Hunting in the Texas Hill Country
Just another Day in Paradise
It was hot, with the drought still in full swing. It was also only my third visit to the new lease, and the first day to hunt. My husband knew the property better than I at this point. After looking around things on my previous visits, I decided to hunt by the only tank with water still in it. I had fished the tank before and liked the terrain, and figured that would be a good place, it was loaded with deer tracks, turkey tracks and scat. Considering the drought, I thought how can I go wrong here? We didn’t have a stand set up yet, but there was a good tree that I could use for cover, sitting in a small chair surrounded by natural brush. I settled in about 2pm and was glad for the shade from the tree. I watched everything, listening and wishing the birds in the nearby brush weren’t so loud, noting the family of cardinals that reminded me of Missouri. I watched turtles in the tank, and almost wished I had my rod as the bass chomped bugs on the surface. The tank was so low they were feeding even in the heat. I could hear turkey in the distance, I called and even got a couple of responses, but they came no closer. I was getting a bit drowsy, so carefully opened my water bottle and poured some to wipe on my face. While I was doing that I heard loud racket in the brush to the left across the tank and my heart started to beat faster, then I had to laugh at myself and the fat little covey of quail that came out for a drink and to peck around for food. I watched them for the longest time, trying to stay awake. My thoughts weren’t very positive at this point, I hadn’t seen any deer at all. I watched a hawk fly over and birds dive for cover……
I kept thinking ‘just a few minutes and I’ll open my eyes. Those darn quail sure are noisy.’ Something made me realize that the noise I was hearing was the crunch of dead leaves that littered the whole area, produced early by the drought, and it was from the wrong direction. I opened my eyes, and there was a beauty (to me) of an 8 point buck coming around from behind the hill only 25 or so feet away from me! Well my heart went into overdrive at that, and I could have cried when I realized My gun was leaning against a big limb next to me. I had forgotten to lay it back across my lap when I got water. That buck was very nervous, looking and sniffing, but at least the wind was in my favor! I was trembling as I moved ever so slowly, reaching for my Ruger .223 ranch rifle. The buck made it to the tank, and when he moved, I moved. When he stopped and looked up, I froze. He drank. I gripped my rifle. He looked up and I had to freeze, he was looking straight at me. He lowered his head to drink, long slurping pulls of water and I was able to get my rifle to me and start to raise it. Another freeze as he looked up; I thought I was going to explode! He again drank, and I got my rifle to my shoulder. I was sighting through the scope, just getting my bead, when he had had enough and jumped so abruptly that I could do nothing. He was gone behind that hill like I’d never even seen him.
Was it a bad day? I thought so then, but not now. He was beautiful, and I’d never been so close to such an animal before. I could see his nostrils when he took a breath, see the muscles under his hide, the rack that crowned his head, and see the depth of dark eyes.
Nope, not a bad day at all.