My buck scored 150 Pope & Young points and was taken at 17 steps in a travel corridor heavily pre-scouted with trail cameras by outfitter Steve Rortvert (left).
Texas is anything but flat, corn-feeder country like much of South Texas
different story. Though much of it
is flat, there are plenty of hills, gullies, creek bottoms lined with tall
cottonwoods, and a wide variety of flora. There isn?t the cactus found further
south, but the sand spurs will grab every piece of clothing you have and hang
on for dear life. One other distinguishing feature is the fact that here the
wind never quits. A ?calm? day sees winds of 10 mph, and it?s been known to
blow over 50 quite often.
Steve Rortvert and Magnum Guides is my kind of outfitter. A small
family-run operation, Magnum Guides has been open for business since 2003.
Today Steve has exclusive hunting rights on about 14,000 acres of prime
farmland in parts of three counties. A former paratrooper and army medic, Steve
has put in lots of time on his leases doing habitat management, installing
feeders, shooting houses, tree stands, and ground blinds, as well as planting a
number of food plots ranging in size from 32 acres to 200 acres. He plants
these plots primarily in rye and wheat. He offers hunts for whitetails,
turkeys, bobwhite quail, mule deer, pronghorn, doves, and predators.
Hunters stay in the same comfortable ranch house that Steve and wife Angela live in.
?This is true fair chase hunting, with no guarantees of
success,? Rortvert said. ?Still, you see lots of deer of all ages and sizes.
What I do guarantee all my clients is that we will not over-hunt the land, and
that you?ll be placed in stands that have not been hunted to death.? Steve
limits the number of hunters he takes each season both because he is very
concerned about the quality and quantity of the deer herd, but also so that his
clients will be able to see lots of deer that are not ?psycho? deer, but
instead act like deer that have not been scared to death. He is also a
proponent of doe control as a large part of his quality deer management
program. Thus, all clients are both permitted and encouraged to harvest two
does each on their hunt.
in late October, the deer were not showing much in the way of the frenetic rut
activity they would exhibit in early to mid November. We saw a little scraping
and rubbing, but for the most part the bucks were still in small bachelor
groups. This meant we would be dependent on hunting travel corridors and pinch
points Steve had pre-scouted.
In this country locating suitable stand locations for
bowhunting is problematic in and of itself simply because there are few trees
ideally suited for setting a tree stand. Add to that the fact that I had a
cameraman in tow and now we had to hide two of us in a spot where the chances
of seeing a mature buck pass by in bow range during legal shooting hours.
four we set up along a wooded ridge that ran along the edge of a harvested crop
field, then horseshoed around a large expanse of overgrown CRP ground. A couple
of four-inch trees were freshly rubbed. There was a shooting house — perfect
for my cameraman, Chris Douglas — but what was I to do? Simple. We took Steve?s
ranch truck to another part of the ranch, took down a 12-foot tripod stand,
loaded it up, and brought it back to the main ranch house. There we did some
quick repair work finished off by wrapping the four open sides in camouflage
burlap. We then loaded it back up and, after some maneuvering, we set it up so
it was right up against the house, then brushed it in. It looked hokey, but the
wind was right and we thought, whattheheck, let?s give her a go.
afternoon Chris and I were tucked away in our new setup and it wasn?t long
before we wondered if we were in Saskatchewan, not Texas. The air temperature
was in the high 40?s but the wind was blowing a solid 20-30, and with nothing
to block it in no time I realized I was about two layers short on the clothing.
I also realized that if a deer did come through I was going to have to do some
fancy maneuvering to get a shot off over the sides of my funky blind.
they came there were two bucks together, both 10-pointers, through the tall
grass, spotted feeding doe, and in a classic display of pre-rut frenzy, came in
behind her for a smell. She would have none of it and led them up through the
little 40-yard wide tree line to the edge of the field directly across from us.
Once they figured out she wasn?t ready for any serious courting, the bucks
spent a few moments scraping and working over a licking branch. Only 75 yards
away, they may as well have been on the moon.
for some reason, the largest of the two came down through the trees, snaking
his way back to the main trail. With the filming light fading fast, I was able
to lean over the edge of my blind, come to full draw, settle my top pin on the
buck?s chest, and hit the release trigger without getting busted. At the shot
the buck whirled and raced back into the trees, where he staggered briefly,
then walked to the top of the hill, where we saw him collapse.
rolled the dice and come with a 7. He scores right at 150 Pope & Young
Who says Texas is nothing but high
fences and corn feeders?