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Hunt 13 January 19 - 22 Post-Season Management Hunt
Our final hunt of the 2016 season was noteworthy for several reasons:
1. We hosted the most hunters on one date - eleven. Plus a non-hunter was here, as well.
2. The second largest buck of the season was taken on this final hunt.
3. Thirty-two deer and three javelinas passed through our skinning shed, another record.
Several groups made up the list of clients who came from seven different states. From western Pennsylvania came Bryan Chambers (a one-time former hunter), Joe Nagoda, and Mike Calder. Their amigo, Dan Turkowski, brought his son, Ty (5th grader) and a nephew, Cam O'Brien (a high school senior).
These PA guys hunt regularly in Alabama each January with some Staten Island, NY guys. But only one of those, Robert Mugavero, actually still lives there. The other two have dispersed, you might say. Victor Emovi moved to Foster City, CA and Phillip Roman now lives in Huntersville, NC.
Finally, Jim Mousseau, who used to be a regular January hunter with his father (now deceased), wanted to bring his cousin, Pete from Michigan plus a nephew from Arkansas, Jordan Glick who would be taking his first-ever buck (hopefully). Jim was the non-hunter whose goal was assisting Jordan.
These two post-season discounted hunts were set-up to be only three day affairs. So with additional hunters and less days than our regular hunts, our skinning shed was super busy, as you might guess. The first night, two bucks and one javelina were photoed, and several does were processed. Next morning, four bucks and six does were moved through our skinning shed. Of the four bucks, two belonged to young Ty Turkowski, and herein lies an interesting story.
Ty, the 5th grader, had shot a buck which ran off. He contacted his guide, Jerry Watts, to alert him to this event. Jerry told Ty to wait in the blind, as is our policy, and that he would be there in 30 minutes or so, giving the buck plenty of time to bleed-out. Jerry was almost back to Ty's blind when he heard a shot. Uh-oh. Jerry had severe misgivings about this turn of events, and his suspicions proved accurate. Another buck had come to the feeder and Ty thought it was the same one he had shot at earlier. So he tried this time to down the buck. He did, but it was a different buck. The first buck had run just out of sight and expired. So Ty had two bucks. In addition to that pair, the camp photographer also got to collect pictures the busy morning of Bryan Chambers with a 19" eight and Joe Nagoda with a 17 1/2" seven.
The second night, Cam O'Brien, and Robert "Mugsy" Mugavero got bucks, and Jordan Glick got that first-ever buck he had come to collect, if possible. Jordan had taken a couple of does earlier, as a "dress-rehersal" for the big event, as per the advice he received from Uncle Jim. A very wise policy.
Saturday morning, the weather continued very pleasant. Which was great for Dan Turkowski. The 19 1/4" main-frame eleven pointer had come in close to the feeder, Dan said, but was still hidden behind brush and trees. The buck stood there for 15 minutes, just looking things over, while poor Dan was forced to wait and wait for a shot, his heart rate off the charts. He could see the horns, but that was about all. Finally the old boy took a fatal step forward and Dan had his trophy. As it turned out, Dan's buck was the second-to-last buck of the season and was also the second-best of the season with 148 1/8 inches on that magnificent head.
About two p.m. that Saturday afternoon, here came the wind, which grew progressively worse until we had gusts of 40 mph and more. As you might suspect, hunting that final afternoon wasn't all that good, although several does were taken. And Pete Mousseau finally got a 16" eight point but admitted to turning down several better bucks earlier in the hunt. Such is the continual challenge of Adobe Lodge hunting: "When are you looking at the best buck you will see during the hunt?"
We almost got to claim 100% success for the eleven hunters, but poor Phillip Roman had missed a buck earlier and on this final, super-windy night, his shot was deflected when the bullet hit a wire in the fence which surrounded the feeder. The same thing had happened a hunt or two before. If it weren't for cattle, feral hogs and javelinas, we wouldn't have to construct the fence barriers around the feeders. And they are expensive, too. But Phillip did not go home skunked. He collected a giant of a javelina - 74 lbs, which is about as large as they come.
Shown below are results of that wind which plagued us for 24 hours. If it hadn't been for the inch-and-a-half of rain we'd had just a few days ago, no doubt that gale would have produced a major sand storm. But the wet ground, thankfully, prevented a duster. The eleven hunters collected eleven bucks. Nine got one/each; one got two; one got none, as mentioned above. Twenty-one does were taken; three javelinas were, too. It was a great way to end the season. Complete stats of the 2016 deer harvest will be posted on the deer summary page within a few days.
All the hunters were curious about next January. Would there be more discounted hunts? All depends, they were advised, on the census counts next fall. At this time, it is impossible to tell. Our best guess is that there is less than 20% chance more discounted hunts will be offered. But, we reminded one and all, Adobe Lodge hunters can take advantage of our unique "Trophy Option" pricing. Come hunt with us for $2500. Look for that monster like the one taken on this hunt, or the 158"+ buck taken on Hunt 11 by Charlie Eifert or the impressive drop-tine buck taken by Laura Sensenig on Hunt 10, all late season dates. If you get him, you pay an additional $1500, which is cheap for these kinds of bucks just mentioned. If you do not see one that meets your standards, you can still take the prescribed number of does (at least two, maybe more) and enjoy all the great services provided by Adobe Lodge. It is the next-best thing to a guaranteed hunt.
Hunt 12 January 12 - 15 Post-Season Management Hunt
The census work back in October on a couple of ranches we hunt called for a buck harvest which demanded that we sell additional bucks. So two post-season, three-day hunts, were created for $2500 per hunter. The two dates sold-out in a matter of days as hunters scrambled to get in on the bargain price.
As things happen with low-fence, fair-chase hunting, it is impossible to predict what-will-be-seen-when. The seven hunters on this date collected some mighty fine animals, all of which are shown below. You would hardly describe some of them as "management" bucks. A couple of javelinas were taken, plus a second-buck, plus a couple of javelinas. And a fox, too, come to think of it. And oodles of does made their way to the skinning shed, as well. So the three day hunt was plenty busy from start to finish.
Our old Florida buddy, Ray Hudgens, whom we've not seen since 2009, was on hand for this hunt. Ray has been here countless times, but it's been way too long since he has enlivened our camp with his upbeat spirit and countless funny stories. Ray got himself a tall 17 1/2" eight point the first afternoon of the hunt, then went on to help us try to reach our doe quota. He did good, and we appreciated his help.
Four hunters from Georgia were on hand, two of which hunted with us last season. Joey Vaughn and Matthew O'Kelly were here last January. But back then, their hunt was cut short due to a family emergency back home for Matthew. Since he did not get to collect a buck a year ago, he was invited to return for free to "get-er done" this year, and he did it in spades. Wait till you see his buck below. He has a most unusual rack. "Never seen nothing like that before" was heard from both hunters and guides alike.
Joey Vaughn found a dandy 18" eight he liked on the first morning and came back that afternoon with an even better 16" ten pointer for his second buck.
The other Georgia guys were first-timers with us and we enjoyed getting to know Joey's dad, Kermit Vaughn, and their amigo, Doug Wheeler. Both collected nice bucks. Doug also put three does in the freezer. But uh-oh. With a weather event being predicted, the Georgia guys decided to clock-out early and get ahead of the reported ice-storm which was supposed to be headed our way. They missed the last day-and-a-half of the hunt and could have collected six more does in addition to the six they took home. The good news was that they re-booked for the same mid-January date next season. But it was explained to them that next year's date will not be at a discounted price. No matter. "Book it" they said, and we did.
The final two hunters hunted with us several years ago as "first-ever" whitetail hunters. John Seps, San Jacinto, CA and Curtis Smith, who has now relocated from Southern California to Inkom, ID, both found nice bucks. But poor Curtis. The first buck he shot at got smooth away. Reason: the crime-scene investigation showed that the bullet Curtis had fired hit a wire on the pen which surrounded the feeder. Note: we are forced to fence-off some of our feeders to prevent depredation and molestation by (1) cattle , (2) feral hogs, and (3) javelinas. So Curtis hit a wire. If you tried to shoot one of them, you would miss no-telling-how-many-times. On the second morning, Curtis redeemed himself and brought in a 16 1/2" six pointer, but he vowed the one he had missed was considerably larger. So it goes with hunting.
To sum it up: the seven hunters took home eight bucks and 15 does. Plus Curtis and John both collected good javelinas. Matthew O'Kelly got himself a good gray fox. The weather started out being beautiful, clear shirt-sleeve weather the first day. But clouds and chilly temperatures dominated the second half of the three day hunt. No ice, no snow. Only in the mid-30s to around 50 or so. Five of the seven re-booked for 2017.
JRN Special Hunt January 7 - 11
When our most faithful and long-term client, John R. Newsome, asked if we might create a special hunt for his special people, the answer was easy - why "Heck Yes." We had a block of time that would work between the conclusion of our regular hunts and those final discounted management hunts we had created to help manage deer numbers.
So here came John, his son, Johnny, son-in-law Brian Burke, and John's faithful side-kick, Myron Woomer. We specifically limited the number to just these four hunters so that they would have the entire camp to themselves. In looking into our picture book archives, we found photos of all of them dating back more than 20 years ago to the mid-90s - a treasure trove of history. Yep - John Newsome, his family and his guests have been a dominate part of our camp for a long, long time.
In fact, both Myron and John Jr. have collected our coveted "Buck of the Year" award. Myron's 1996 Top Buck was a 20 3/4" 11 pointer, 132 7/8". In 2010, John Jr. got the best of the season with a 147 7/8" twelve pointer, 17" wide. But of the three, John Senior has collected the best Adobe Lodge buck. Back in 2005, he took a 151-inch buck, a 20" main-frame twelve pointer, but it was only the second-best of that year. John Sr. reveals that son-in-law, Brian Burke, holds the records for the largest buck ever taken off the Newsome farm at Shumway, IL. So all four in camp know what a big buck looks like.
They have been here when it was super cold and when it was mighty hot. On this particular date, it was both, all within the four days. When the hunt kicked-off at noon on Saturday, the overnight low had been 11 degrees. It did not get above freezing until the next afternoon. But by Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, the temperature was right around 80 degrees - mighty warm for mid-January. Global warming? Global cooling? Hell fuzzy. We had both on this hunt date.
Similar to the previous hunt, we asked one and all to bring in all the antlerless deer possible to help us reach our harvest quotas for the season. We even opened it up to spikes, and danged if John Jr. didn't bring in the most unusual spike buck you ever saw. We have tried to tell his story in the photos below. The poor creature's ear was trapped underneath his right antler which had grown kind of backwards across the top of his head. And that ear had a rubbed spot from the antler. Which had to be miserable for the unfortunate little buck.
John Senior almost always collects two bucks on each visit and did so once again this trip. The rest all collected nice bucks, and three javelinas were taken, as well. But they really distinguished themselves by harvesting does. Eighteen were taken by John Jr., Brian, Myron, and their guide, Albert Zapata. Yep, there was a pile of deer meat, too.
Two more hunts remain before the Fat Lady sings. Already we can hear her warming up. So it follows there will be two more of these reports on the season's activities. After that, when all the numbers have been crunched, we'll have a recap on the entire season. So stay tuned for a little while longer.
Hunt 11 January 2 - 6
Most every Home Camp hunt begins at noon on the first day and ends at noon on the final day. If at all possible, we like for all the hunters to be on hand for the kickoff meeting. Unfortunately, that didn't happen on Hunt 11. Three of the troops missed the first full day - the first afternoon and the next morning. They also clocked-out early, missing fully 3/8 of their hunt. But, as with most anything, you have to play the hand you are dealt.
Hunt 11 had eight hunters - six brand new to us and only two veterans. We love first-timers. For them, everything is new and unexpected. The first-timers were Bob Anderson from Massachusetts, plus three amigos from the southeast - Mark Jurnigan, Bubba Tarlton, and Hank Steinhauer. Then, as guests of Rex Bushong mentioned below, we had Clayton Lacey from East Texas and Nelson Ward from New Jersey. Rex and the others are all involved in animal/poultry nutrition.
The two vets were Charlie Eifert, Mason, OH, and Rex Bushong, from - of all places - right here in San Angelo.
Rex has hunted with us during January the past couple of years. Rex likes to collect lots and lots of does on this late-season hunt. Unfortunately, Rex had to postpone his arrival for a full 24 hours, as did his two pards - Clayton and Nelson. And after hunting only one afternoon, poor Rex had to leave due to health issues. Clayton and Nelson missed the first afternoon, first morning and final morning's hunt, too. Nevertheless, both guys collected a couple of does/each while Rex, who hunted only one afternoon, took one doe. Rex missed the last half of the hunt, but he has been offered another date either next January, or later this season if he feels up to hunting.
First-timer, Bob Anderson, from Carver, MA drove down with wife Lana - a heck of a trip all the way from New England. Bob lost no time in collecting a dandy nine pointer, 19" wide. He went on to down a pair of javelinas. Luckily, when Bob and Lana returned to camp with the javelinas, the recipient of all javelina/turkey money, Terry Waller, was on hand in camp and got to meet his new benefactors. All money raised from the harvest of javelinas and turkeys goes to Terry's ministry, "Water for All International," dedicated to drilling inexpensive water wells in many countries - Bolivia, Ethiopia, Uganda, and others. So Bob and Lana got to meet the missionary who will receive their donation - a heck of a deal.
Charlie Eifert, Mason, OH, hunted with us way back in about 2007. Last year, all of a sudden, he booked to come on a deer hunt. Then, in the spring, here he came on a turkey hunt. Next, in September, Charlie called to book this early January deer hunt. It was lucky he did. The buck Charlie took here in early January turns out to be the fifth-best buck we've ever taken since our first season, 1985. Charlie's beauty was a main-frame twelve-pointer, 21 inches wide which had 158 3/8 inches of horns on his handsome head. Wait till you see his photo below. Is this the buck that was photoed on the previous hunt by Laura Sensenig? He was taken at the same blind as was Laura's drop-tine buck back on Hunt 10.
We were encouraging all the hunters in camp to harvest does to help meet our quota-requirements for antlerless deer. Our troops did fair taking a doe or two along, but not near enough. Finally, on that last night - when a cold front blew through making things miserable outside, twelve does found their way to the skinning shed. Plus a dandy buck taken by Bubba Tarlton, Lithia, FL. Poor Bubba. His photo below shows a nice scar across his nose from his scope due to the rifle's recoil.
Mark Jurnigan, Lithia, FL, mentioned a crippled buck he thought ought to be put down. He did, and we got his photo with the unfortunate creature. On the final morning, Mark finally found a buck he judged to be worthy of the trophy fee and got for himself a good 16" ten pointer.
Hank Steinhauer, Rentz, GA got a huge javelina for himself, a 70 pounder. They don't come much bigger than that. But it was Hank's doe harvesting skills that really helped us out. Over the course of the hunt, Hank put nine antlerless does on our tally board.
With seven of the eight hunters in camp hunting under our "Trophy Option" plan, you would expect the buck harvest to be limited, and it was. Only four bucks were taken by the eight hunters. Counting Hank's does, there were 21 total taken by the eight hunters, all of whom took at least two/each, except the unfortunate Rex who got to hunt only a half-day. Three javelinas were taken. You might say it was a busy hunt.
Two of the eight rebooked on the spot before leaving camp, and the Georgia/Florida hunters vowed a return trip next January, as well. So when re-bookings come our way, we know the hunters had a good time.
But it was Charlie Eifert's buck which stole the show. He is truly one magnificent animal. Check out his photo below.
Hunt 10 December 27-31
We always welcome family groups of hunters. We were knee-deep in them on Hunt # 10. In fact, that's all we had.
Father/daughter pair Jim and Taylor Knorr, Bloomsburg, PA have been here numerous times over the years. Kennesaw,Georgia hunters Catharine Cato and Brad Milner were here for last spring's turkey hunting, now here they are for a deer hunt, and danged if we won't see them back for more turkey hunting next April. Rob and Zach McNamara, League City, TX have been here several times, once again accompanied by Aeaw, Rob's wife who was a non-hunter. But it was Cory Sensenig that hadn't hunted with us since way back in 1993. He brought along his two girls, Natalie and Laura, plus wife, Elaine who came as a non-hunter. The Sensenig's live in Denver, PA
So we were knee-deep in family groups on Hunt 10. And when you check out the group photo below, you will see more females in camp than males. This was a first for us.
The very first afternoon of the hunt, Jim Knorr collected a nice doe with an 837 yard shot, confirmed by his range finder. Yes, yes, it took him four shots to get'er done, but hey - how many of us can do something like that? That same night, Laura Sensenig got a bobcat while sister, Natalie, collected a beautiful fox.
Here we are between Christmas and New Years when it is supposed to be cold. But on Wednesday, the first full day of the hunt, it was 68 degrees at daylight and warmed to 84 that afternoon, setting a new record for December 28. Nevertheless, Jim Knorr found a buck he liked and brought him in. That afternoon, Jim - who was now doe-hunting - saw a magnificent trophy buck and resolved to get daughter Taylor on him if possible. Wouldn't you know it? After hunting that stand for three more times, Taylor never saw the one that had melted her dad's butter.
Late in the season and after the rut, you would think that bucks would kind of stay in the same place most of the time. But it seems to be just the opposite. One school of thought has it that the bucks are rambling far and wide as they try to reconnect with their amigos not seen since the rut got underway back in late November. We heard of such traits of whitetails a year ago when a hunter stayed at the very same blind for each morning's and afternoon's outing. He said different bucks came to the feeder every time. What he saw today would not be seen tomorrow.
So Taylor hunted that buck her dad had spotted but never saw the rascal. Taylor did collect a good 17 1/2" eight pointer after giving up on seeing the one touted by dad.
Next morning, a front came through - 35 degrees with a north wind. Did this weather bring out the big'uns? Maybe. Natalie Sensenig got herself a 20" eight point. Laura's buck that same morning was just as wide but we counted 12 points on that rack, one of which was a 6 3/4" drop-tine. Laura's buck taped 136 3/8", in the top five for the year, so far. Amazingly enough, Laura vowed that a couple more bucks she saw that morning were equally big, and she even had photos to prove it. Laura was kind enough to furnish us with her photos which you can see below.
And regarding that drop-tine: no one throughout the entire season had reported seeing such a buck. Where did he come from? Might he have wandered on the next day to some other far-flung location if Laura's bullet hadn't stopped his prowling.
But it wasn't all good luck. Cats Cato thought she had missed a shot the day before, but a return to the scene of the crime uncovered a broken branch off a mesquite bush - no doubt the reason for the missed shot. But Cats redeemed herself by connecting on a super-tall eight pointer. And it got better - as the hunt rocked along, she got a feral hog, a javelina and a raccoon. She was one busy girl.
Zach McNamara collected his first-ever ten pointer - a milestone in anyone's hunting career. His dad, Rob, didn't see much along the way until finally, on the last morning, Rob put his tag on an 18 1/4" eight pointer.
Cory Sensenig also waited until late in the hunt. On the final night, Cory got his picture made with a ten pointer, but it was Cory's girls who stole the show. Those two daughters got the two widest bucks, a gray fox, a bobcat, plus two raccoons. Not to mention the does (two/each) they tagged.
So it was a busy hunt for the nine in camp. Eight bucks, eighteen does, a javelina, a bobcat, a fox, and several raccoons. The best news was that these hunters re-booked four slots for next year, and that is always something to celebrate. The only unsuccessful buck hunter was hunting our unique "Trophy Option" plan and just did not see one he judged to be worthy of the trophy fee.
Hunt 9 December 18 - 22
In this game of hunting, plans have a way of changing in the blink of an eye. Just a couple of weeks ago, we thought the hunt would be full with eight hunters. But all of a sudden, out of the blue, one cancelled. Two others came down with a major case of the "crud." Luckily we were able to find room for the afflicted pair on the next hunt, just after Christmas.
So for Hunt # 9, we only had five players in the game. Despite some brutal, adverse weather right at the start, the troops did mighty good, as you will see below in the photo gallery. As a matter of interest, we hosted two family groups, a party of three and a party of two. Family members are probably the most numerous among our annual list of clients. For sure, this ninth hunt was 100% family folks.
Back for the second year in a row were Tony Vega and his son, Byron. Tony lives in deep south Florida at Homestead. But Tony had told Vita Santiesteben about the wonders of Adobe Lodge hunting. At the kickoff meeting, Vita, a brand-new hunter, was asked why, all of a sudden, she became interested in deer hunting. Her answer could not have been more forthcoming: recently retired, she wanted to accompany Tony on his adventures. So we hosted Vita, a first-ever buck hunter plus Byron Vega who took his first-ever with us just one short year ago. Tony expressed an interest in taking a 2nd buck. So these hunters were here to get down to business right from the start.
Also in camp was Dan Mink, Stewartstown, PA who hunted deer with us last fall and turkeys last spring. Dan was introducing son, James, to Adobe Lodge style hunting. Both will be here this coming April for the spring turkey wars. Dan and James are experienced deer hunters. They waited patiently to finally collect bucks which met their exacting standards and there is nothing wrong with waiting for the "right one." We like for hunters to "look them over" before making their choice. Most Adobe Lodge hunters will tell you that the challenge of hunting deer around here is trying to determine which buck you see will be the largest during the four days.
The hunt began with the coldest weather we have had so far. It was 19 degrees at noon on Sunday with a biting north wind. The Mink's said that is typical deer hunting weather back home in PA. The South Floridians never complained about the chill. That first bitterly cold afternoon, Vita took her first ever deer - a nice doe. Indeed, Tony Vega found a buck he liked the next super-cold morning when it was still in the low-20s. That afternoon, he elected to take a second buck.
Then, as the weather warmed over the next couple of days to finally reach shirt-sleeve temperatures during the afternoons, the hunting slowed down somewhat and bad luck reared its ugly head. Byron had a DNF on a doe; Vita missed a shot or two; both Mink's were seeing nothing of interest. Indeed, in glassing surrounding hill sides and prairies, Dan could see plenty of deer but only a few would come to a corn feeder. Much unlike his experiences a year ago, Dan noted.
But the fortunes turned. Byron Vega got a tall eight point, and James Mink found a handsome eleven pointer, plus both tagged-out on does. James even collected his first-ever javelina.
On the final night, Dan Mink scored with a nine pointer after debating with himself whether or not this was "the one." But Vita still had no buck. Now what? Her guide, Dick Irons, had a plan. He prevailed on Tony to sit with her, thereby changing guides and maybe luck for the final hunt. It worked. Tony's good eyes got Vita on a buck she had not seen. She nailed him. Her first-ever buck. Just as the clock ticked down to zero, too. Well done, Vita and Tony.
So here is the summary for Hunt # 9: five hunters collected six bucks and 9 does plus a javelina. Statistic buffs would make note of several missed shots and a DNF doe. But hey - when all the hunters tag-out on bucks, we will call that a super-great hunt, and never mind the first couple of mighty cold days.
These hunt reports will not be updated until "next year." Reason: Hunt # 10 runs December 27-31, so you will not know the results until the first day of 2017 when your friendly webmaster finally gets everything published.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Hunt 8 December 11- 15
Hunt # 8 seemed to move slowly, but by the time the dust settled at the conclusion of the four days, our troops in the field had harvested some mighty fine bucks and an impressive number of other critters.
In camp for the event were Virginians H.B. Lantz and Warren Widmyer who had stayed over from Hunt 7 to be here for Hunt # 8, as well. They were joined by five guys from the Lancaster area of PA, four of whom have been here before. John Rohrer, who earned "Buck of the Year" honors back in 1994, comes often and it is always great to have him in camp. His long-time amigo, Ken Hess has also hunted here several times in the past, but it has been way-too long since we got to enjoy his company. Same thing could be said about Ken's nephew, Jamie Hess, who has been a former client, but it was years ago. Chris Long hunted here maybe ten years ago. The only true newcomer was Chad Beitler from Gettysburg, PA. So we had six vets and only one rookie. But it was a lively group. Fun and frivolity dominated each day, even though things seemed to happen in slow motion.
The Pennsylvania's all put money into a pot to go to the winner of the largest buck. That first night, Chris Long got his picture taken with a dandy buck that taped in the mid-130s. So the bar was set pretty high. Maybe it was for this reason that the harvest seemed to evolve slowly, as the others were eager to knock Chris out of the # 1 slot. Does were taken right along all throughout the hunt. In fact, five of the seven took our camp limit of two does/each. That helps a bunch - thanks guys.
John Rohrer lost no time in hammering down on feral hogs. The first night he nailed two with one shot and got a bullet into a third hog which was subsequently found the next day. Three up, three down. Well done, John Rohrer, but he wasn't through. John thinks he nailed a fourth hog a day or two later, but it was not located. Who cares? Well done, John, and owe you our thanks for the number of pigs.
Ken Hess, on the second day, found a good eight point, but he didn't quite reach the inches of the Chris Long buck taken earlier. Ken's focus turned to doe hunting and he succeeded in collecting the heaviest antlerless deer of them all at 100 lbs. even.
Warren Widmyer did great by taking a beautiful ten point buck plus a couple of good, mature does. But his real feat was the Rio Grande gobbler. Warren's bird was an 18 pounder with an 8 1/4" beard and 7/8" spurs. Faithful readers will remember that Warren got skunked on his quest for a turkey back on Hunt # 7, so it was great to see him collect his Christmas meal.
Chad Beitler took the heaviest buck of the hunt, a 141 pounder. His 17" eight pointer weighed 141 pounds.
On the night that Chris Long collected his javelina, Chad brought in a couple of varmints - a gray fox and a raccoon - critters that are in abundance around here although you just don't see them all that often. Regarding coons, any hunter who helps diminish the population of such vermin earns our everlasting thanks. They are major pests around feeders of all types and kinds.
On the final night of the hunt, John Rohrer brought in a most unusual buck. Wait until you see his photos below. The gap between the tips of his impressive G-2s was only one inch. Check out his photo below. You just don't get to see bucks like this one very often - a unique and special trophy for John Rohrer.
Going into the final morning, two hunters still lacked bucks. Jamie Hess succeeded in getting a most handsome trophy, the widest of the hunt at 18 inches on his eight point frame. Also, on that last morning, when the temperature was in the mid-30s, Chris Long collected a good gobbler at 20. 4 lbs. His short 7 inch beard might be found on a jake, but Chris' gobbler was nothing of the sort. The proof? That gobbler taken by Chris carried a hair over one-inch spurs on both sides, a sure sign of a three-year old turkey, at least.
Despite the fact that our mid-December weather seemed to be unusually mild (until the final morning), and despite the presence of a full moon coming on Tuesday, right in the middle of the hunt, deer movement seemed to be as good as ever - most of the time. Some hunters would see oodles of deer where they were set-up; others would see fewer mature deer. No doubt, weather affects the sport of deer hunting, but it is difficult to predict beforehand. Some days seem to be perfect, yet few deer are out and about. Other days when the weather is most unpleasant (wind, dust, rain) is when you just might find the best hunting. One thing for sure: if you are back home in your easy-chair, it is a cinch you will see no deer.
So here are the final stats on Hunt # 8: seven hunters collected 6 bucks and ten does. Two hunters found good Rio Grande turkeys. One javelina was taken. A fox and a raccoon were removed from the varmint population. Plus there were those several feral swine taken by John Rohrer.
If hunters do not have room for their limit of one buck and two does for their airline travel, there are numerous things we can do with deer meat. Remember: it is never wasted. There are several charities who are eager to accept donated deer meat, and they are happy to get our venison due to the manner in which we butcher and package all the deer meat. As a matter of interest, we do not butcher feral hogs for a number of reasons. We are eager to rid our pastures of them, however, and just leave them lay.
Our last hunt before Christmas begins on Sunday. Weather forecasts predict super-cold conditions for the first couple of days. Unfortunately, we had 3 last-minute cancellations, so we will only put five players onto the field for the whitetail games. Our report of this Hunt # 9 should be posted by December 23.
Hunt 7 December 6 - 10
We've been having more cloudy weather lately, and the trend continued on this hunt. The good news is that you just don't have the sun in your eye, no matter which way a blind faces. But finally, it got mighty cold, after an extremely mild fall. But never mind the weather - Hunt 7 put up the best collection of bucks we've seen this year. Plus the troops in the field collected the widest variety of critters you ever saw.
Of the nine hunters in camp, five were multi-year veterans, including John R. Newsome, John Newsome, Jr., and Myron Woomer, all from Illinois. Warren Widmyer and H.B. Lantz, Jr. from Virginia were here once again to do their standard back-to-back trick hunting this date and the following Hunt # 8. No telling how many times all these guys have hunted with us, but it's a bunch. And three of them have collected our coveted "Buck of the Year" award - Myron (1996), Warren (1999), and John Jr. (2010).
We were pleased to get to know four newcomers. From upstate New York came Jon de Forest, Rocky Loccisano, and Steve Taszycki. Chris Childress was here, too, from Spring Hill, in middle Tennessee, accompanied by his beautiful wife, Cheri, who was listed as a non-hunter, but she got special treatment the entire time. Why, you might ask? Cheri had given the trip to Chris for his 50th birthday present - a gift that we hope many other wives across the country might consider as special presents for their husbands. It is a wise and loving lady that will do something like that.
On that first night in camp, Myron Woomer brought in a dandy ten-pointer, but it was the red fox he collected that stopped us in our tracks. A red fox around here is a super-special kind of trophy, and if memory serves, it is the first such critter ever collected by an Adobe Lodge hunter. Also that first night, Steve Taszycki brought in a seventeen-inch ten point which Steve admitted was a personal-best for him. That, too, is a memorable trophy.
Next day, the weatherman predicted clear skies, but boy, was he wrong. The clouds and cold that morning didn't affect Chris Childress. His buck was a 7 x 8 (15 measurable points) which taped 137+ inches.
That night, John Jr. brought in a handsome eight pointer plus a couple of does. But it was Jon deForest who found the big deer of the hunt (and the 2nd best of the season so far). Jon's 17" eleven pointer carried 143 5/8" of horns on his noggin.
Next morning, the cold front hit with a spit of rain and sleet. Bad luck found us when John Senior hit a buck that we just could not find. Our inimitable skinner, David Gonzales, has a mighty good track record at such tasks, but this time, he simply ran out of sign and had to call it quits. It got worse when David's rookie helper, Gabriel, our new camp go-fer, got lost himself. David's cell phone reports were discouraging -he could find neither buck nor ranch hand. Gabriel was finally located over a mile away from the search area, headed north toward the lodge, but into the sleet. A bad deal.
Despite the weather, Chris Childress and Steve Taszycki collected javelinas. And Warren Widmyer got a heavy-horned 11 pointer that night. Next morning, with temperatures in the mid-20s, H.B. Lantz found a 19 1/2" ten pointer he liked.
Rocky Loccisano was the final hunter to collect his buck on the last afternoon, but he was worth the wait. Rocky's eight point was mighty tall and heavy, as you will see below. Also that night, Jon got a monster javelina and Steve got a gray fox.
On the last morning, H.B. and Warren hunted turkeys. Poor Warren watched a great flock of hens and a nice ten point buck all morning, plus a half-dozen pesky, frisky squirrels, but saw nary a gobbler. But H.B. collected a ten-inch-bearded dude that weighed 18.4 pounds and had 1 1/8" spurs. Yes, the ground was frozen but it finally warmed to the 50s by the time all left camp.
What a busy hunt. All nine hunters found a buck worth taking, but unfortunately, we had to put the dreaded DNF by John Sr.'s name. Five of them took the camp limit of two does/each. Three others collected a doe/each. So the math adds up to 8 bucks and 13 does. There were three javelinas, one turkey, one red fox and one gray fox. Now that's a hunt to remember.
Hunt 6 December 1 - 5
Our favorite hunters are father/son duos. We were knee-deep in them on Hunt # 6. There were four pairs of them. But the math doesn't add up to eight hunters because there was a grandfather, son, and grandson who get double-counted.
Indeed, the only one who did not fit this category was Craig McMillan from Sante Fe, NM. Craig hunted with us last season and returned once again on this Hunt # 6 as a single hunter.
Bill Knapp, Wethersfield, CT, affectionately known as "The Legend of Adobe Lodge" having taken our coveted "Buck of the Year" title three (count them, three) times, was most interested in seeing his grandson, Dylan, take his first-ever buck. Dylan's dad, Eric (Bill's son), is also a BOTY recipient (Buck of the Year, back in 2009). So Dylan had big shoes to fill. The first night in camp, sitting with his dad, Eric, Dylan nailed a dandy ten pointer for that milestone. Dylan went on to collect a camp-limit of two does (89, 83 lbs), so Grandpa Bill opined that the boy was "hooked" on Adobe Lodge hunting. It's no wonder.
We are always uplifted when a hunter takes a "First-Ever" buck with us. Reason: No one, repeat- NO One - ever forgets that first-ever buck. So we know we will be a part of that hunter's memory forever.
As Hunt 6 kicked-off on Thursday afternoon, the weather could not have been better. But things were about to change, big time. On Friday morning, Craig McMillan got his buck before the rain got underway. So did Ray Reynolds who has hunted here more times than we can count. That Friday afternoon, the rain set-in and didn't ever really quit until after the hunt had ended on Monday. That Friday afternoon, Andy Reynolds (Ray's son), wounded a buck which guide Bill Scott simply could not find with the super-wet conditions. Wisely, Bill elected to postpone the search until the next morning. It worked. The buck was quickly found, but uh-oh, the coyotes had found him first. They tore into his paunch, as you will see in the gristly photo below. But what a buck Andy took!!!!. The rascal had no eye-guard points, but, instead, had one long tine coming on his left antler just above the hair-line. It's not a drop-tine, but instead, is a most unusual kicker - about 4-5 inches long, too. Thank goodness Bill Scott and his crew of scouts found this good buck.
But the rain continued. When this happens, the main effect is this: we simply cannot get to many of our blinds and feeders. Landowners do not want us to tear-up their roads, and we don't. But our mobility is severely affected. Despite these burdens, guides and hunters soldiered-on to do mighty good. You can see the results in the photos below.
Ray Reynolds collected a hundred pound (estimated) feral hog. Ray also put his tag on a 97 lb. doe. But that wasn't the largest one. Eric Knapp is firmly in the lead for doe weights this season by collecting the largest doe - a 118 lb. beauty. It has been a long time since we have seen a doe of this weight in our skinning shed. Bill Knapp was right behind with a 107 lb. female. Indeed, all the hunters did great in bringing in big, mature does weighing in the 80s and 90s.
The rains we have had recently will surely help the winter forage for the deer. Farmers are known to complain about rain when they can't get into their fields for work. But ranchers and hunters always welcome the moisture because it is good for domestic animals and wildlife, too, here on the edge of the desert.
The final tally showed the following:
1. Eight hunters collected eight bucks. 2. Twelve does were taken. 3. One feral hog was taken. 4. Six of the seven hunters in the Knapp group re-booked and will be bringing other hunters next year. Brian McPherson wants to bring his daughter. Eric has another son who will be here in 2017.
Bill Knapp first hunted with us back in 1997 and has been here every year since. A couple of years later, he was accompanied by Ray Reynolds who has similarly not missed a year since the first trip. Next was Eric Knapp; then Mac McPherson, all from the Wethersfield, CT area. Although Ray has now relocated up to New Hampshire where the snow gets deep and stays long. The tradition continues as the following generations of these pioneer Adobe Lodge hunters continue to bring offspring to the fall rendezvous for classic West Texas deer hunting at its finest.
Hunt 5 November 27 - 30
JBS Packing, a shrimp company in Port Arthur, TX headed by Trey Pearson, has been taking all the slots our first after-Thanksgiving hunt for the past several years now. Four or five of the group remain the same each year, and it is always great to see the guys from down on the Gulf Coast. Best part of the deal is the seafood delights they bring. This year was no different.
Brent Zirlott and his son own an oyster business at Murder Point, AL. Recently, their oysters won first place in a national contest among those who raise and propagate oysters. Brent showed up in camp with a sack-full of these dudes. Every night before supper, the hunters and guides were treated to as many oysters as they could hold. Brent was kept busy with that knife and gloved hand as each shucked treat was taken as quickly as he could get them done. What a deal, eh?
The weather was mostly good during the entire hunt except for the strong southwest wind on a couple of days. Buck are still running does, but the wind affected the effectiveness of rattling. The rest of the time was downright pleasant and shirt-sleeve conditions even after dark each night.
Seven of the eight hunters in camp were multi-year Adobe Lodge veterans. Indeed, they all have many, many years of West Texas hunting experience. The only first-timer was Boaty Campbell who delighted all of us with his stories. Jerry Clower would have powerful competition with this guy. Boaty was paired up with Brent Zirlott and both collected bucks that were well over the 20" mark.
It is not unusual to hear a hunter bemoan the fact that he didn't get the buck he thought he was taking. It has already happened back on Hunt 3, come to think of it. But Jimi Stringfellow's "mistake" buck, being a 19 1/2" eight point, only makes us want to know what the other one looked like that got away. Holy Smokes. He must have been a monster. Maybe someone will bring him in before the season concludes.
But it wasn't just all deer and seafood on this date with the shrimpers. Brent Zirlott collected a good bobcat; Chip Volz got himself a big javelina. Jimi Stringfellow did us a favor by taking out a feral hog. The doe harvest went well, too, except for the fact that there seemed to be some kind of gambling among the hunters on the weight of the does. When a "doe pool" is underway, hunters will be extremely selective in taking antlerless deer. Indeed, weights were noted on the skinning shed tally board down to a tenth of a pound. The heaviest was taken by Chip Volz at 105 lbs, but close behind was Lance Stringfellow with a 102.8 lb. doe.
The final tally went like this: eight hunters took six first bucks; one took a 2nd buck. Two hunters failed to find a buck they liked. Ten does plus a DNF doe were taken. Also there was a bobcat, a javelina and a feral hog. And don't forget the dozens and dozens of oysters plus the scores of shrimp found in gumbo or grilled or chilled.
The best news was that Trey Pearson and his JBS guests will all be back for another hunt and shrimp fest in 2017.
Hunt 4 November 19 - 23
The night before Hunt 4 began at noon, our area had the first freeze of the fall. Maybe that event had something to do with the rut getting underway, hot and heavy. Several of us saw bucks running does that cold morning.
But the following four days were quite pleasant with temperatures around 40 at night and 75 or so during the day. And the wind wasn't strong either. So it was glorious fall weather, and as you might expect, our hunters did plenty good. Six of the eight in camp were veterans; only two were first-timers.
Returning for the 13th time was Lyle Olson, but his old buddy, Ed McFarland has hunted with us around ten times. So has Mike Kramer who remembered his first Adobe Lodge trip was back in 1995. He now hunts both fall deer and spring turkeys with us every year. Other long-time regulars were the father/son duo Frank and Scott Kramer.
Jim Davis, a guest of Ed McFarland last year, brought along his buddy Richard Anderson all the way from Minnesota for his first hunt with us. The other first-timer was a solo hunter, Scott Murdoff from Plano, TX. Remarkably, all eight hunters re-booked for 2017 before they left camp.
First to collect a buck was Ed McFarland on the very first night, and a dandy he was - a 20 3/4" eight pointer. Ed kept looking for a second-buck but never found one he judged worthy of the 2nd buck fee. But Ed did collect a pair of fine does plus a javelina.
Scott Murdoff similarly didn't wait too long. The next morning, Scott put his tag on a tall 8 point weighing 158 lbs, the heaviest buck of the hunt. Scott took a pair of does, as well.
Indeed for the first time this season, every hunter in camp collected his limit of two does, except two of them had to be classified "DNF." Jim Davis hit both antlerless deer right smack in the shoulder, drawing blood both times. And yet neither doe was found. Clearly something was wrong with those bullets he was using in his .243. With two lost deer to his credit, Jim did the wise thing and reached for another gun to get his buck and was, thankfully, successful this time. Nothing wrong with his shooting - it was the bullets. All this caused, as you might expect, much conversation and post-event analysis among the pundits back at the skinning shed.
Jim and Richard Anderson both took their bucks on the second night.
Going into the 2nd half of play, we were four-for-four on bucks. But, as always, those still trying to find a buck they wanted were seeing nothing but does. The four doe hunters saw numerous bucks. So what else is new? It wasn't until the third night that Lyle Olson finally found one he liked - an 18 1/2" eleven point. At this point, Lyle morphed into a hunter of swine and when the dust settled, he could claim both a feral hog and a javelina by the conclusion of the hunt.
That same night, Mike Kramer, acting on the scouting tips from Ed McFarland, found a keeper buck that Ed had captured on his camera - an 18" nine pointer that had over 136 inches of bone on his head - one of the top five of the season so far.
The Kollars both collected good, big does with the four weights being 86, 87, 98 and 107.8. Admittedly, neither of the pair would taken a buck unless he would be a candidate for "Buck of the Decade." But Frank's most memorable moment came when he saw a genuine buck fight and got the event on film. He furnished us with a photo of the contest which is shown below.
So six bucks were taken by the eight hunters and fourteen does were butchered and hauled home. There were two javelinas taken and one feral hog.
On a personal note: the next hunt report will be a while in being posted. On the day Hunt # 5 ends, my wife, Jeri, is having surgery out of town to correct her reflux problem. So your friendly webmaster will be A.W.O.L. for a few days.
Hunt 3 November 14 - 18
What a hunt this one was!!! A strong contender for the coveted "Buck of the Year" honors was brought into camp. Another buck taken on this hunt was the widest of the season so far. Three javelinas were taken. And six of the nine in camp collected their two-doe limit.
In camp were two father/son pairs, a husband/wife team, a couple of long-time amigos and a single hunter. And they arrived from all over the place. All the way from New Hampshire, Frank Daley comes every-other-year, this time bringing son, Ed, who lives in Charles Town, WV. Pat Keough, Rye, NY, brought son, Don, who works just off of Wall Street in downtown NYC. The amigos are a bit of an odd couple consisting of Lee Wilson, Gulf Shores, AL and Ken Carter from Pulaski, WI.
The husband/wife duo was long time Adobe Lodge favorites Craig and Marie Boehler from Amsterdam, NY. As it turned out, Craig morphed into a hunting guide when one of our regular guides had to clock-out to deal with an urgent problem. So Craig Boehler guided both his wife and the single hunter, Craig Nowell, from St. Martinsville, LA, deep in the heart of Cajun country. Craig Boehler, having hunted with us countless times now, has acted as an Adobe Lodge guide in the past and it wasn't his first rodeo. At the kickoff meeting, it was announced to those assembled that Mr. Boehler would both guide and hunt himself. However, as it turned out, Craig did precious little hunting as his focus was on his two hunting clients. Craig admitted that trying to guide and hunt all at the same time was an unrewarding and pert-near impossible task. As it turned out, Craig got bucks for both his hunters but nothing for himself.
But everyone else in camp took good bucks and several wasted no time in doing so. Pat Keough, Craig Nowell, and Frank Daley all bucked-out the first afternoon. The next morning, Don Keough and Ed Daley had their photos made with bucks. Don's trophy, when we finally got around to putting a tape measure to him, turned out to be the season's widest, so far, at 20 1/2". But it gets better. Don and his dad also brought in three javelinas. They said we should credit one to Pat and two to Don. If this wasn't enough, with the three does taken by the group, the skinning shed was hopping with activity. So at the end of the first quarter of play, five of the nine already had bucks.
That night, Ken Carter, who could claim only one buck to his lifetime credit, brought in a super-buck. We counted 16 points with 13 of them being an inch-long or more on the 18" wide rack. He was taped to have 147 1/8 inches of horns on his head. At an initial glance, Ken's buck appeared to be a three-year-old, but a second, closer look had many of us wondering about the true age of the old boy. Muscles in his neck were pretty thick, but he weighed only 128 lbs. Could he be a much older whitetail - say six or seven years old? He had a bit of a Roman nose, and quite a few white hairs on his head.
Lee Wilson, who will hunt the McManus Camp in a couple of weeks, committed a classic error on his hunt. A super-buck appeared and Lee immediately knew he was "THE ONE." But he momentarily disappeared as Lee got his gun out the window of the blind. When "THE ONE" reappeared, Lee put a bullet in him. But the downed buck wasn't the one Lee had thought he was taking. This tragedy happens almost every season, and Lee took it with characteristic good humor.
Finally, Marie Boehler found a good buck and took him down with one shot. In getting her photo made with her husband/guide, Craig together with her hunting partner, Craig Nowell, Marie claimed she felt like a "Craig Sandwich." You can see this photo below.
Weather-wise, it hardly seemed like fall hunting weather. Down to maybe 50 at night - and up to the low 80s during mid-afternoon and little to no wind. Reports from the field told of bucks beginning to run does, but not yet all that seriously. Six of the nine hunters took two does each; eight of the nine took bucks. But can we really count Craig Boehler who hardly hunted for himself taking neither a buck or does? Three javelinas were taken at 50, 45 and 50 pounds. Two hunters re-booked before leaving camp while others promised to check their schedules and call back.
Hunt 2 November 9 - 13
For the second hunt in a row, we had wet, rainy, cloudy weather until the final day anyway. Did the weather affect the hunting? Well, maybe a little.
For one thing, three of the hunters were delayed by slick highways. And the 1 1/2 inches of rain that fell on the first night of the hunt hampered our mobility. Some of our blinds are impossible to reach when it is super muddy. But you know what: not one complaint was heard from hunters or guides. All soldiered on and did their best despite the damp conditions.
Seven of the nine in camp have been here before. But Dude Phelan, from Ocala, FL had waited a powerful long time for his second visit. He was last here back in 1994 - a 22 year hiatus, a record pause for sure. Dude brought along his lovely wife, Stephanie, as a non-hunting companion. Other veterans were the Pattersons - Lynn, brother Scott and Scott's son, Ryan. Lynn is addicted to bow hunting and introduced nephew Ryan to the sport on this date.
More veterans were Californian Peter Ruseski who drives up to camp in his Porsche for the second year in a row, giving our parking lot a huge lift in class. Finally, Jim and Carole Christopher were here for the 3rd time. Jim holds the distinction of being our oldest hunter this season, being 90 years-young. Carole got her first-ever buck with us back on that initial hunt. The Christopher's introduced us to a new hunter, Dave Montgomery, a nearby neighbor in Hot Springs Village, AR.
The other newcomer was Jim Murray, another Arkansas hunter who came as a single but promised to return with his wife and grandkids. Jim, come to find out, has extensive hunting experience not only in Texas and other western states, but in Africa, as well. Jim collected an impressive 19" eight pointer plus a couple of good, mature does. Having tagged out early, Jim departed camp on the third morning.
As he did a year ago, Peter Ruseski asked if, instead of a buck, might he take four does instead. Heck yes, and we are glad he got it all done. Interestingly, on the final morning as Peter was packing all that meat (plus a couple of left-over shoulders from the previous hunt) in that Porsche of his, it was noted that probably never in history has anyone crammed that much venison into a Porsche.
Scott Patterson was the first to put his tag on a buck and succeeded in collecting a pair of does, too. But as Ryan's dad, Scott had a range of emotions from high to low in watching his son hunt deer. Ryan, using his rifle, lost his buck. Despite guide Jerry Watts' extensive, day-long searching, trailing the victim for hundreds of yards in the mud, they finally had to post the dreaded DNF on our tally board. But Ryan redeemed himself in a huge way the next day by taking his first-ever deer with a bow. That doe was only the first. That afternoon, danged if he didn't take a second doe with the same arrow. Uncle Lynn was mighty proud of the boy. Just to be sure he would definitely take home some venison, Lynn put aside his own bow the final day to collect a couple of great does with his gun.
Jim and Carole Christopher had heck the first day or so. Neither felt comfortable trying those hundred yard shots. So some extra blinds were moved much closer to other feeders. But it didn't work too good. Nothing worthwhile was seen. Finally, on the 3rd day, Jim, using an old-faithful 22.250 borrowed camp gun, got'er done and collected his buck. With this success under his belt, he was skunked the next day when he saw nothing but a wide collection of bucks and nary a doe. Carole, meanwhile, had problems with the scope on her gun and was unable to find an image while in the field. Frustrating. Their pal, Dave Montgomery, however, got himself an eight-pointer and a nice doe. So their cooler had three deer on their trip back to Arkansas.
Dude Phelan's buck had fishhook eyeguards on his nine-point frame. Wait till you see this unusual rack in the photos below. Dude also took a good, big doe.
So we had a wide range of hunters on this date, from a 90 year-old to a sophomore in high school. Three of them were lawyers. We had hunters from both California and Florida. We had three from Texas and four from Arkansas. And given the inclement weather conditions, they all did pretty darn good. Only two - Lynn Patterson and Carole Christopher failed to take bucks. Remember that Peter Ruseski had no intention of taking a buck and we had that DNF on a buck, too, but five were taken. The nine hunters took 14 does. It wasn't until the 3rd night in camp that we were able to build a campfire. It was just too wet and damp. The final morning, the temperature at daylight was 41 degrees, but due to the lack of wind, it didn't even seem cold. It later warmed to the mid-seventies here in mid-November.
Hunt 1 November 4 - 8
Finally all the waiting is over. Our first hunt of the season arrived and a good one it was.
Early in October, we were blessed with a wee-bit of rain. Since then, the weather has been dry and unusually warm. But the day before our first 2016 hunt started, we got a half-inch or so just as our wheat farmer arrived with his giant rig to plant. The small amount of moisture settled the dust, for which we were thankful. With all eight hunters arriving by vehicle, the road into the Home Camp would have been mighty dusty. But it wasn't.
Seven of the eight were veterans, some of many, many years. Most senior was John Newsome, followed closely by Myron Woomer who has been here almost as many times as John since way back in 1995. They often come several times per season; in fact, the Illinois pair will be back in early December. Next in line would be Tom and Hunter Biehl from the Reading area of Pennsylvania. They drive down for the kickoff hunt each season, and this time, their truck needed overload springs for all the pranks and tricks they had planned for all of us. Each successive year, they endeavor to top their previous schemes with evermore clever stings.
Joe Ivey, driving up from the Houston area, came alone year-before-last. In 2015, he brought his son, Russell. Now in 2016, he brought another son, Tony, as well. The good news is that not only did all three collect great bucks, they re-booked three slots in 2017 before they left camp.
Matt Shubert was the eighth hunter, driving all the way from Mims, Florida, on the east coast. Matt comes almost every year. Last year he hunted the McManus Camp. Matt has hunted more of our camps than anyone.
Some say that large caliber guns are more likely to put a deer on the ground. Maybe not. The first night of the hunt, John Newsome shot at a buck, apparently missing him completely. Most unusual for John since he rarely misses with that .338 canon. His guide, Dick Irons, found not one speck of blood. The next morning, hunting from the same blind, John redeemed himself and brought in a good 10 pointer. When our inimitable skinner, David Gonzales, peeled the hide from the carcass, low-and-behold, there was another bullet hole low through the buck's neck. John admitted trying for a neck shot the night before. Yes, he had hit him, but no, the buck was not brought down and had not bled at all. This underscores what we always tell our hunters: "Bullet placement is far more important that is the caliber of the gun." As a matter of interest, John Newsome has, historically, been one of the best marksman we've ever had. Back before his advancing age and physical limitations took their toll on John, he used to make some incredible shots. Now, having lost the sight in his right eye, he is forced to shoot with his left hand. But he still connects most all of the time.
John even took a 2nd buck, and since Myron had a good'un early, the pair clocked-out early on Sunday for the drive back to central Illinois. That morning, Joe Ivey found a heavy-horned eight point, but with the small bumps here and there, some might have called him a ten - or ever better. Russell Ivey had been successful that first afternoon with a dandy 9-pointer.
Hunter Biehl claimed to have shot Rudolph, making a bleak outlook for Christmas for all the kiddies in these parts. Sure enough, his buck had a huge, red nose, as you will see below. No telling what the penalty for this crime will be. Maybe Hunter will get out of jail in time to be back next season.
For almost the entire run of the hunt, the sky was cloudy with temperatures very mild, mostly in the 60s both day and night. However, at daylight on Sunday, a huge rain came - just hours after the farmer got all that wheat in the ground. You talk about lucky. By noon, our rain gauge showed over an inch. Tony Ivey collected a ten point, but most reports had few deer moving during the deluge. As always, those tagged-out and hunting females only saw nothing but bucks; the buck hunters saw only girls. How many times has this happened?
By Monday morning, only Tom Biehl and Matt Shubert lacked bucks, but they brought in a pair that could have been twins. Matt's was an 18" ten; Tom's was a 19" nine. But laying there on the tailgates of the respective trucks, any hunter would have to flip a coin to say which was best.
Tom and Hunter Biehl wasted no time in getting started on their mischief. Tom had brought along a special "cowboy" hat for Jerry Watts, who has guided the pair for years now. Tom also presented David Gonzales with an official "lab coat" worn by those who do post-mortems on cadavers. Hunter Biehl got into the act by draping a covering over one of his does which was painted with the word "kow." And finally, on the last night, another doe's udder (and yes, she still had milk) was fitted with a giant bra that might be too large for Dolly Parton. Hunter has promised to be back next fall, but Tom at the age of 81 hesitates to make plans. He says he no longer buys green bananas. At least we will have a year to recover from their devilment and to prepare for whatever they cook-up for 2017.
So the hunt ended with great, tremendous news. No, it wasn't the almost full tally board - it was that wonderful rain with lightening and thunder. The little winter weeds have already jumped an inch or two. The eight hunters all took good bucks, and John got a 2nd buck, making nine for the eight. John and Myron rarely ever take a doe. Nine does were brought into the skinning shed, and we tabulated one DNF doe (did not find). But the best news was that four of the eight already made firm plans to return in 2017 - and that is the best news of all.