Making memories with friendsBy JEFF NORTH,
The content of many of my articles is usually born from an actual experience that leads to further thought and investigation. It is only then that the words, combined with emotion, come together to form a union worthy of sharing. My ultimate goal is to bring enjoyment to your dens and fireside with maybe a little lagniappe for you to hold on to. Seldom do I just put a play by play together and relay some event or scenario to you. Then I thought, why not share a real experience with several characters to just create a hopefully entertaining tale. So here goes.
Five amigos, loaded with enough gear and food to supply an army, left for the high plains of Texas in high hopes of collecting venison and memories. Half of the fun is the travel itself and the anticipation of what would hopefully take place in the canyons and the flats along the Canadian River. Spirits were high, as they usually are, when you are just beginning an excursion that has been anticipated all summer. Here are the actual events in sequence as they occurred.
JH was up to bat first. His guide, Mr. Eddie, is quite the character. Maybe that’s why they took a shine to each other. Texas cattle rancher by trade, with a few oil and gas wells on a 30-section parcel of land to help fund the cattle operation, he and JH hit the road. Their game plan was pretty simple. They glassed as much country as possible and if something sparked their interest, they made a sneak. Both whitetail and mule deer bucks were encountered. I’ll admit, listening to JH tell the story was quite entertaining as Mr. Eddie would say “shoot that mule deer.” Then before they could get a better look, he would change his mind and say. “C’mon, let’s go find a bigger one. Four hours into the hunt, JH wrapped his tag around a nice whitetail. One down, several to go.
My agenda on this hunt was to just look at country and cook for the rest of our crew. When JH tagged out, I thought “now what are we going to do for the next five days?” My obsession got the better of me so a tag and license I did purchase. It didn’t take long as several of us eased up to a bluff to peer over. Our timing was perfect as a nice buck was making his way down the canyon. I wish I could say it was duck soup, but sending the first shot into the red dirt over the buck just created more drama. To make a long story long, the buck gave us another opportunity 20 minutes later and somehow I made the grade. Tags were 40 percent filled now.
Chris was next. He booked his hunt later than the rest of us. He had listened enough about us going and proceeded to write a check. Several bucks made an appearance right at sundown the second day. We’re not really sure why he passed the first one and the second one was silhouetted against the west Texas skies. Without a backstop he didn’t shoot. No worries, for the next morning he caught a buck dogging a doe in another deep canyon. Nothing is prettier than a big buck running flat out with his ears laid back in hot pursuit. Good shot, Chris, and another tag was filled.
Daylight found our outfitter and Sam glassing a wheat field along the river. The buck standing in the frost-laden grain crop looked good. Five hundred yards is a long shot but technology has taken some of the guess work out of it. I guess Sam didn’t want me to feel bad about what I did, so out of courtesy, he sent his shot right over the top of his buck too. His buck skedaddled for the thick brush along the river bank not to be seen again. No worries, for redemption was in the cards for Sambo.
Chris, JH, and I enjoyed cruising the country looking at deer, ducks, and turkeys. We pulled into a wheat field where Sam was hunting to watch the show unfold from a distance. We weren’t there long when we heard the distinct crack of his rifle. One of the outfitters also heard it and joined us. Larry and Sam were already preparing to take pictures of the buck when we arrived. A beautiful buck with the longest brow tines I have ever seen filled tag number four.
The evenings are fun around the fire when everyone has been successful. We had to cognizant though and not stay up too late as “Weevil” still had his tag in his pocket. The turkeys around his stand were driving him crazy and that night Larry asked him if he would be interested in a nice mule deer buck that made a habit of coming into a wheat field each evening. The stage was set and once again the opportunity unfolded. I guess the third time is the charm as Weevil repeated the follies of Sam and me. The first shot sizzled right over the buck. As a matter of fact the second one did too. Now is when it gets interesting as a hunter tries to calm himself in the midst of a possible debacle. Several deep breaths with a calming demeanor from our outfitter did the trick. Weevil filled out the group as he punched his tag on the nice muley.
Five good friends, five good days of hunting, and five nice bucks tagged made for a trip that we will talk about for years to come. I’m sure those missed shots will also be brought up again. I did quote Teddy Roosevelt as we prepared to leave that country in regard to our shooting. “No possible repetitiveness of fire can atone for the habitual carelessness of the first shot.” No truer words have ever been spoken.
I encourage you to put a group of friends together and make trips like this. I assure you, the time spent together enjoying what we cherish so much makes life worth living.
Until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.