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Hunt 14 January 25 - 28
The final hunt of the 2017 season found most of the hunters who were here on the same deal a year ago. There were only a few new faces. The core players come from both western Pennsylvania and Staten Island, having become amigos and hunting partners over several years of hunting in Alabama. It takes a while to sort it all out. Only one of the Staten Island guys still lives there, the other two having dispersed to San Francisco and to Charlotte, NC.
Of the Pennsylvanian's, it was Bryan Chambers who, having hunted with us way back in 2009, told the rest of the guys about us when we offered the discounted hunt a year ago. When deer numbers during the 2017 fall count foretold the need to remove deer from the inventory for the sake of the health of the herd, all it took was one email to Bryan and within a couple of hours, he had gathered the crew for another Texas trip.
But this time, Bryan asked if he might include Ryan Trabucco. Yep, bring him. Then, Joe Nagoda asked if he might bring his dad, John, and his son, Joey. All of a sudden, we were hosting eleven hunters.
And to approach those harvest goals, each hunter would be asked to take three does, too. Mathematically, it would be a challenge to take 44 deer in only three days. They almost did it. The final tally showed 11 bucks and 23 does.
Many first-timers at Adobe Lodge take almost the first decent buck they see. So it was on the first afternoon with John Nagoda, who admitted if he had just waited a bit, he could have taken a buck twice as large. The next day, Dan Turkowski, who collected the second-largest buck of the 2016 season on that final hunt a year ago, took a tall, eighteen inch 8 point. Meanwhile, Joey Nagoda, a fifth-grader back home in Export, PA but an experienced buck hunter, collected a 14 3/4" five point. While all this was happening, many does were being unloaded for processing in our skinning shed.
But there was a problem. As we learned a couple of hunts ago, bucks around here are already beginning to lose their antlers. A young, immature buck, having already shed his antlers, looks remarkably like a doe. Sometimes a couple of white patches can be seen where the antlers used to be. Admittedly, this is difficult to do, depending, maybe, on how long-ago the shedding was done.
Why antlers are being shed much earlier than normal is a riddle. Our guides, in discussing the issue, remember the rut coming in earlier than normal back last November. So has the entire ritual for whitetail deer been moved earlier? Or could it be the extraordinary dry weather. Are bucks getting so nutritionally stressed that they shed their antlers? And once shedded, of course, an observer has no idea how large those antlers might have been? Were they spikes or forked-horns? Maybe super-small 6s or 8s? Is it only the young bucks, or are older bucks also shedding.
So, at the pre-hunt orientation meeting, this group of hunters was cautioned about this situation. They did a good job, although, we'd have to say, some of the antler-less deer brought in were not does, but, in fact were bucks.
The second night of the hunt was the busiest with bucks being taken by Phil Roman, Robert Mugavero, and Ryan Trabucco. The next day, we learned that Ryan had taken that buck on his birthday, January 26 - a first-ever feat. Ryan had never even hunted deer on his birthday before. We should have had a cake with candles.
That same busy night, Joe Nagoda got himself two bucks. Our camp photographer almost burned up the battery in our Canon Rebel taking photos of all those bucks. Joe didn't intend to take two bucks, but when Buck # 1 disappeared after the shot, and when Buck # 2 reappeared moments later, seemingly limping, Joe misread the deal and intended to finish off Buck # 1. But # 1 had already expired out of sight. Both were good whitetails with one having eleven points and you could almost add a 12th if you wanted to.
At noon on Day Two, Zac Turkowski, Irwin, PA and Dan's son, got his photo made with a tall 18" eight pointer, a handsome buck. But it was Mike Calder, Sewickley, PA who collected his first-ever bobcat. As with most all successful bobcat encounters, Mike said he had just mere seconds to make his shot. The felines surely don't stay in one spot too long. And that night, danged if Mike didn't bring in a pair of foxes. Two canines and a feline all in one day. If that has ever happened before, we don't remember it.
Going into the final morning, only three hunters lacked bucks. Bryan Chambers elected to clock-out early for the trip back home with the caravan of big pickups. That left two of the troops afield: Victor Emovi, Foster City, CA and Mike Calder. Both were successful. Victor got a 9; Mike got an eight. On that final, cold morning, it was 20 degrees at daylight but was 70 by 2 p.m. when we had to run the air-conditioner taking hunters to the airport.
The eleven hunters collected eleven bucks with one taking two bucks and one taking zero. Twenty-three does were taken with six getting 3 (one being a DNF); two taking two/each; two taking one/each; and one taking no does. Two foxes were taken and one bobcat. Feral hogs and javelinas were eagerly sought by some but remained elusive.
Thus ends the 2017 season. Final statistics will be tabulated over the next few days and posted to this website. Stay tuned.
Hunt 13 January 18 - 21
Following the deer census last fall, it became clear that we would be offering post-season discounted hunts to help us reach our harvest goals on several of the MLD ranches we hunt. MLD = Managed Lands - Deer, and we are allowed to hunt after the close of the regular season. Several of the groups from last year requested a similar deal if it was to be offered. It was, and here they came.
On hand were mostly veteran hunters with two of them having been here earlier in the season. Pete Mousseau, Hunt # 2 and Marie Boehler, Hunt # 7 doubled-back. This time Marie was accompanied by son, Justin and his wife, Amanda, here to attempt to take her first-ever buck. Marie's husband, Craig Boehler, no longer hunts but, instead, mostly enjoys guiding, helping Marie, and then Amanda and finally, son Justin. Craig admits that it was a much cheaper deal when he was the only one in his family coming to Texas. Oh, well. The Boehler's live in upstate New York and were glad to get out of the snow for a while. Pete Mousseau lives in Macomb, Michigan, so we had several snow-birds coming south for a break from the cold. Pete brought along his wife, Vicki, as a non-hunter so she could see the Texas hunting drama for herself. Vicki got to accompany Pete on several of his outings and was with him when he took his buck.
Long-time clients Frank and Scott Kollar were here, as well. Frank now makes his home in Pueblo, CO while Scott lives in Austin, TX.
On the previous hunt, when it once appeared we would have a house-full, we asked Rex Bushong, who lives right here in San Angelo, if he could possible move his hunt to the following one. He could and he did. Rex has plenty of experience hunting Texas whitetails and is only after a 14-pointer, so he says. In the past few years we have been hosting Rex, we have yet to show him such a buck. Meanwhile, Rex loves to collect does to share venison with various friends. Rex is an accomplished cook. The first afternoon of the hunt, Rex spotted a cull buck and called to ask if he could take him out. You betcha, and he got'er done, as you will see in the photo below. Rex went on to collect his full quota of does, as was his quest to begin with.
Marie Boehler hunted her first-ever buck here a few years ago, and since then, she has turned into a dedicated and skillful hunter. The evidence: she spotted a good buck with both an attitude and a busted-up rack. Marie wanted him, but the rascal wouldn't stand still enough for a decent shot. Finally, he appeared to be leaving, but stopped in his tracks when Marie grunted at him. She used no tube, only her natural sound which, admittedly, was a bit feminine. But it worked. She got the shot she wanted and put him on the ground for good. This warrior had been in plenty of scrapes this fall, and you might call him "Bad, bad, LeRoy Brown. Baddest dude in the whole damn town."
Daughter-in-law, Amanda, was urged to take a doe as a dress-rehersal before attempting that first-ever buck. But as the hunt unfolded, she took a colorful feral pig, instead, for her first-ever prize. Then, she went on to put her tag on a dandy ten-pointer. How many first-ever buck hunters get to do that? And on the last morning, Amanda outdid herself by collecting a 75 lb. doe with a 300 yard shot. What a deal, eh? When the Communists come, you'll want Amanda in your fox hole.
The Kollar's waited patiently for bucks to meet their goals, meanwhile taking their three does/each, along the way. Scott got a good ten pointer, and on the final night, his dad, Frank, got himself an eight. The Kollar's car was loaded down with eight deer on the trip back home.
Also on the final night, Pete Mousseau brought in a 19 3/4" ten pointer. He was a good one, but not quite as good as the one Pete collected back in November. But gosh - two good bucks in the same season - not bad at all, Pete. Pete will be bringing his daughter to collect her first-ever buck just after Christmas next season.
When the hunt ended at noon on Sunday, everyone departed except the Boehlers who were staying over to help us work cattle the next day. Justin asked if he might continue his quest for a buck? Yes, of course. And it worked. Justin downed a good eight point that night, but unfortunately, we had to do without the incomparable services of David Gonzales, our World-Class skinner. Justin and Craig Boehler did a mighty fine job in butchering Justin's buck - but it just wasn't quite as fast as David might have done it.
The weather was plenty cold the day before the hunt began, barely getting above freezing. But by Saturday, the temperature dial in my truck said 78. Earlier in the week, just five days ago, we were seeing Facebook pictures of car thermometers in the single digits here around San Angelo. So it was a wild week with extreme changes. But no moisture. Which is badly needed. But the forecasts for the next week says nothing is headed our way. We'll all have to tighten our belts a notch. Or two.
Here are the final stats for the seven hunters in camp: all seven hunters collected bucks, but the one taken by Rex really should not count since he was a cull and not a trophy. Seventeen does were harvested by the group. Three foxes were taken, and one feral hog wound up on our tally board.
Hunt 12 January 10 - 14
There is one thing about fair-chase, low-fence hunting: you can just never predict what is going to happen. This is true early-season, mid-season, and late season. Boy Howdy. Were we in for some surprises on Hunt 12.
There were two groups of hunters - some Georgia boys from way up north in the mountains, plus a couple of their guests from western Tennessee. And a father/son pair from California was here.
The Georgians are headed by Matthew O'Kelley and Joey Vaughn, both here for the third year in a row. Back for the second year was Doug Wheeler, Trenton, GA. As we came to learn, Matthew had been hunting turkeys up in South Dakota and he encouraged two of the guides up there (who also guide their deer hunts in the fall) to come along on this Texas hunt to see what it might all be about here in the Lone Star State. Kevin Beaver and Brandon Johnson live near Memphis. Gosh. We were hosting professional guides. We had to clean up our act.
John Seps, from San Jacinto, CA came on a first-ever buck hunt three years ago. He returned last year, and now this year, John brings his son, Sam, to take his first-ever buck. Sam and John are both in the real estate business there in Southern California. Initially uncertain about whether Sam would like the sport, John finally had no worries. He saw Sam morph into a dedicated harvester of deer with blood in his eye and an itchy trigger finger.
In hunting a dozen or more ranches, we simply must maintain a running inventory of where we stand at any given time. It was on this Hunt 12 that hunting could only take place on the "MLD" ranches, the regular season having closed back on January 7. On the MLD ranches, we have strict harvest goals for both bucks and does. As this hunt got underway, our numbers showed 25 more hunters yet to go this season with exactly 100 does to be harvested. A monumental challenge, as you might imagine.
And for the second hunt in a row, we wound up with fewer hunters than the schedule had said. Around a hunting camp, nothing is ever carved in stone and sometimes, you have to play the hand you are dealt.
The Seps pair wasted no time and went right to work. Sam's "First-Ever" buck was a 17" ten pointer, a superb trophy for a rookie hunter. John got a good buck early, too, then the pair went on to put three additional deer/each into the freezer. On two occasions, John got into swarms of javelinas and collected a good one each time, filling his limit of the desert swine.
The Georgia and Tennessee troops were putting some good bucks on our tally board, as you will see below. But it was Brandon Johnson who earned not one but two special feathers for his hunting cap. The second morning of the hunt, Brandon brought in a good feral hog, his first-ever porker. Next morning, he outdid himself by bringing in another one that seemed to be twice as large. Our mechanic, Eduardo Flores asked if he could have the meat, and when he was butchering the enormous sow, 12 unborn piglets were found, almost ripe for birthing. So here's the question. Should we credit Brandon with just two feral pigs? Or does he get to count another dozen?
Matthew O'Kelley asked if he could take a second buck. Because, as mentioned above, we have recently lost several hunters from our anticipated inventory, we said, "Yes." Earlier hunters who had made such a request were turned-down, which we now regret with the diminished numbers of hunters. Anyway, wait until you see Matthew's second buck below. Here we are in mid-January, only two weeks from the end of our hunting, and Matthew's buck winds up as No. Two on the Home Camp's Best List. And although we credited the buck with nine points, he is basically an eight and has 142 inches on his head. Anytime you get an eight over 140, you have a tip-top special trophy on your hands. One of the ways he did it was the sheer mass of the antlers which carried all the way out to the tips of his main beams. Rarely do you see such an animal.
And finally, we come to Joey Vaughn, the only buck-less hunter going into the final afternoon. Joey was in his blind, watching carefully. Here came a buck and he was a good one. No doubt about this old boy - at least 20 inches wide. So Joey shot. The buck ran just out of sight. After a while, Joey went for a look. There lay a buck, but it surely wasn't the one he had shot. Why, this buck has only one horn. Joey was 100% certain his buck had a nice pair of them. His buck, the one he shot, must have run off somewhere. But where did this one-horned imposter come from, anyway? Joey was in agony for the better part of an hour until his guide came. By now, you are surely way ahead of the story. A dedicated search of the area found a matching antler stuck in a mass of prickly pear, heretofore unnoticed by the distraught Joey. Brandon Johnson, who is a taxidermist back home in Eads, TX, assured Joey that re-attaching the antler to a head-mount would be no trick at all.
The best news was that Matthew O'Kelley re-booked the six remaining slots on this same date next year. But we cautioned Matthew not to expect a similar heavy-horned buck next year. Matthew just grinned. The seven hunters collected eight bucks and 19 does plus two javelinas and either two or fourteen feral hogs, depending on how you want to count them. The weather was mostly decent, but seasonable cold early in the morning. Most days, you still needed a jacket at mid-day. No rain came, sadly, and it is badly needed. Our wheat can't last much longer without it.
Hunt 11 January 3 - 7, 2018
Back in 1996, Howard Seigfreid, Berwick, PA was attending one of those sportsman show auctions where Adobe Lodge had donated a hunt. With the auction in full progress, Howard excused himself to visit the men's room. Upon his return, he was startled to learn that his companions bought the hunt and charged it to his name.
Thus began over two decades of delightful times with a great group of guys from the Bloomsberg area, up north of Harrisburg. I even attended their small hunting show a week before the other legendary event a hundred miles down the Susquehanna River. And, of course, Howard was a great host and introduced me to scads of people. No telling how may hunts could be traced to that one donation. To be sure, some donated hunts end with only the buyer coming the one time, but not this one.
So it was over a year ago when Howard called to announce he was bringing a son and a couple of grandsons plus some friends. A couple of them would be taking their "First-Ever" buck under the special pricing we offer during the late season - a thousand dollars off the regular price. Back when the idea was first conceived, i assumed most first-timers would be young hunters, out of school for the Christmas holidays. Not so, I have come to understand. There are many mature hunters - both male and female - who fit the program. If you have never taken a forked-antlered whitetail or better buck (spikes don't count), you qualify. It is as simple as that.
But I was shocked to learn that Gary Seigfreid, Howard's son, was being treated to the first-ever hunt by his son, Kevin - an experienced hunter who would be accompanying his dad to capture the milestone event on his video camera. Exactly how a son of Howard's lived so long without ever killing a buck to produce a mature son of his own who had, in fact, already taken a buck, was never made clear. I had just assumed that anybody in that part of the world named Seigfreid was a born-again hunter since Howard has regaled me with stories over the years of his hunting raccoons, squirrels, and anything where a dog would be useful. Yep, Howard is a dog-man, and a darn good one I have come to learn.
A couple of years ago, Howard's friend, Terry (Butch) Probst was introduced to Adobe Lodge hunting by Howard. Now it was time for Butch to bring his son, Terry, to try to take his first-ever buck, so naturally, the whole kit-and-kaboodle threw in together and here they came - some flying, some driving. As our last hunt ended, cold weather came, and we were concerned that the Seigfreid and Probst groups might not get here. But they did, right on time and had no icy roads or delayed planes - what a deal. Actually, the weather turned out to be quite nice - around freezing at daylight but warmed to the mid-50 or 60s by mid-afternoon.
As an aside here, your bumbling webmaster missed attending any part of the hunt. Yes, I got to see Howard, his side-kick Dave Schalles, and others on the Tuesday before the hunt began at noon on Wednesday. And most of them stopped by to see me as they were leaving town on Sunday. The reason for my absence: on Wednesday, the day the hunt began, I had hip-replacement surgery and was confined to the hospital. I had intended to wait until the hunting season ended to get the surgery done, but the pain and my lack of mobility and effectiveness did not need to wait another month. So I had to learn about the hunt from de-briefing our guides and by reading the tally board. It was easy to tell it was an outstanding event.
For one thing, both First-Ever hunters, Gary Seigfreid and Terry Probst, collected dandy bucks as their initiation into the sport. Most of us, me included, didn't come anywhere close to their feats with our first buck. See if you don't agree when you see their photos below.
Secondly, all the hunters - except Howard and Dave Schalles who were holding out to the last minute - collected three does/each, as we have been asking each hunter to do this season. The doe harvest is the only tool in our box to manage the deer herd, and we simply must have the help of our hunters to accomplish the task.
Thirdly, Gary Seigfreid collected a nice gobbler, but the only useable photo shows son Kevin holding the bird. No matter. It will be Terry Waller and his "Water for All" ministry who gets the $300 trophy fee.
But the take away message for all the hunters is that it is mighty difficult to beat Howard Seigfreid when it comes to hunting. Just look at the beauty Howard got on the final afternoon. What a prize he is - the 18" ten pointer taped 133.75 inches.
Altogether, the six hunters collected six bucks, fifteen does and one turkey.
I will be lucky to get out to the camp for Hunt 12. I hope I can, but I don't know what my mobility might be. It is a day-by-day deal, and I certainly do not want to push things to do too much too soon. I'm not much help around camp anyway. I'm going to get a t-shirt to wear that says "O.A.I.T.W." That stands for: "Old And In The Way."
Hunt 10 December 27 - 31
Finally cold weather found Adobe Lodge. It was much too chilly to have our kickoff meeting outside, and it never warmed up much the entire four days. Some of the hunters from "up-north" actually admitted to being super cold one foggy morning - unusual from northerners. Then, on the final morning, freezing drizzle forced some to leave early or to change their departure route back home to avoid the icy roads. At this point, it is uncertain if planes will be delayed. We hope not, but as the old saying goes: if you have time to spare, go by air.
We had a diverse group for the after-Christmas hunt. A couple of them have years of Adobe Lodge experience - Brad Milner since the late 1990s; H.B. Lantz since the early 2000s. Brad is from Georgia while H.B. hails from Virginia. Brad was accompanied by his fiancé, Catharine Cato. He had introduced her to Adobe Lodge hunting back in 2014 when "Cat" took her first-ever buck with us. Admittedly, Cat now has the "hunting bug" and has been coming both fall and spring (for turkey) ever since. She appears to be incurable of the affliction. She tagged a good ten pointer on the first morning. And what a shot she made on a doe - right smack in the shoulder as per our counsel. She now concurs that aiming at the shoulder is the right thing to do.
Jim Knorr from Bloomsberg, PA has been here a half-dozen times at least, and this year, he introduced us to Brian Ormsby, another Pennsylvanian and business associate. Jim was to stay-over for the next hunt but some health concerns sent him home early.
Back for the second year in a row (and already re-booked for next year) was Bob Anderson who lives away up north in Carver, Massachusetts. Accompanied once again by his wife, Lana, who formerly filled the role of "non-hunting companion." This time she asked if she could maybe harvest a doe or two? You-betcha, if you have a hunting license, we said. She did, and wound up taking three big does.
Last year's "Buck of the Year" winner, Charlie Eifert, Mason, OH, was here, as well. Charlie, who returned here to hunt a couple of years ago after an absence of a decade or more, comes both spring and fall now. Indeed, Charlie has two back-to-back turkey hunts scheduled next April.
Texas brothers David Price (Ft. Worth) and Kevin Price (Cypress) were here to try to take their "first-ever" buck. Immediately upon returning home, both sent flattering emails bragging on our camp, staff and operation. My hat will no longer fit. Kevin put his tag on a dandy 17" eight point, one heck of a "first-ever" buck. Sadly and unfortunately, David's deer left blood and bone but was unquestionably not-recoverable. What a bummer, and one of the worst things to befall a first-ever hunter. The brother's guide, Charles Westbrook (ex-game warden; ex-border patrolman) performed an examination of the scene of David's misfortune. Result: unseen branches and twigs surely deflected David's shot. Both brothers promise to return soon. We hope so.
Bob Anderson was the first hunter to collect his buck, a handsome ten pointer. He went on to put two does in the freezer while Lana was dedicated to collecting her three. They had a busy hunt.
Charlie Eifert's buck, as you will see in the photos below, had a distinct "acorn" on the tip of his right G-3. What causes such abnormalities anyway? Never-mind the weird point - Charlie's buck was a good one, for sure, being a 17" ten pointer, and at 135 lbs. was the heaviest buck taken. As you might suspect, buck weights are falling off now, post-rut, during this mostly dry winter.
On the last full day of the hunt, Brian Ormsby found a tall 8 pointer he liked. That night, Brad Milner connected on a good ten. Only Jim Knorr and H.B. Lantz failed to put bucks on our tally board, but both were hunting our "Trophy Option" plan and admittedly were after only the best of the best. For sure, both hunters know a good one when they see him and were content to play the waiting game, hoping for something spectacular. At the conclusion of the hunt, H.B. said he had seen over 70 bucks during the four days. Back home in Virginia H.B. has taken a couple of 200" inch whoppers. He just could not find the right shot at either of the two candidates he spotted on this hunt. Faithful readers might remember H.B.'s 130-plus-class buck taken back on Hunt 3 earlier this season.
Hunt # 10 produced six bucks plus that DNF for the nine buck hunters. With some of the veterans by-passing does in their quest for exceptional bucks, only 21 does were taken, but Lana helped out by putting three of her own on the tally board. With next year's hunting plans up in the air at this time, only two re-booked for next year. This hunt between Christmas and New Year's works great for some but not for others.
The super-cold spell which befell us as Hunt # 10 came to a close is predicted to get worse over the next couple of days. Hunt # 11 is to begin at noon, January 3, but if the hunters (who are all a part of the same group coming from Pennsylvania) can't get here due to icy roads or delayed planes, we might have to start the hunt a day late - on
Thursday. But the hunt can extend another day or two until Monday or Tuesday since the following hunt doesn't begin until noon, Wednesday. With our schedule now a bit more "spread-out," it is handy to be flexible.
All this means that the date of our next hunt report is problematic, to say the least. Once it concludes, the results will be posted.
Hunt 9 December 18 - 22
For the past several years, we have been offering "First-Ever Buck" hunts later in the season to those who have never taken a whitetail buck with forked antlers. (Spikes don't count). This final hunt before the Christmas break is scheduled to accommodate school-age hunters. Six of the ten hunters on this date were First-Ever hunters. But guess what? Not a one of the half-dozen was anything close to school age. But that's o.k. We do not discriminate against older hunters. If their check clears the bank, they're in. And the price is a full thousand dollars discount. What a deal, eh?
Furthermore, we came to learn that we had a couple of foreign hunters on this date. Kevin Devlin, now living in Phoenix, is originally from Ireland. He even treated us to a taste of whisky from that country. And then there was Gord Kruppert, now living up near Dallas. Gord is originally from Ontario, Canada. Both were first-ever deer hunters. So we truly had an international group on Hunt 8.
We have come to learn there are a surprising number of mature men who have never taken a whitetail. We are delighted to introduce them to this adrenalin-producing sport.
But we hosted four veteran hunters, as well - with, moreover, all four having Adobe Lodge experience. So we had, so to speak, six rookies and four veterans.
As you might predict, first-ever hunters tagged-out fairly early. Three bucks were taken the very first afternoon, and good ones they were. Check out their photos below. Jim Gillard, Gary Ghio, and Rob Wallace wasted no time in putting bucks on the ground. And with all three being "first-ever," one could marvel at the quality of these first-time bucks. There wasn't a bad one in the bunch. Those of us who remember our first-ever bucks (and who doesn't recall every detail of the event?) are jealous.
By noon the next day, both Gord Kruppert and Kevin Devlin could claim first-ever honors, as well. The final first-buck, taken by Wes Wooldridge, came in that night. Having now drawn blood, all the rookies turned their attention to doe hunting and did a mighty good job at it. When the dust settled, all six of them had three does apiece. Pounds and pounds of quality venison will help them make it through the rest of the winter.
The veteran hunters took their time. Three were Texans - Bruce Worsham and son Bruce II, plus grandson Matt Casassa - all from the Houston area. All were here four years ago. Matt was the first to tag out with a good eight point, but unfortunately Matt got the crud the next day and forsook hunting for while. Bruce the younger collected the largest buck of the hunt with a 17" eleven pointer. Finally, on the third day, Bruce the elder got a ten pointer, but he, too, had to deal with flu-like symptoms. Probably it was these health issues that kept them from harvesting any does.
The hunter in camp with the most Adobe Lodge experience, both for deer and turkey, was Dan Mink, from Stewartstown, PA. But, except on the shooting range before the hunt got underway, he never fired his gun. Hunting under our unique "Trophy Option" plan, Dan was naturally looking for a tip-top buck. Dan says he saw one the first day, but the wily old rascal never presented Dan with the kind of shot he wanted. And as you might guess, for the rest of the four days, Dan saw neither that buck nor anything to compare to him. And Dan harvested no does, either. The preceeding words were written before your humble webmaster checked his phone and remembered that Dan had, indeed, shot his gun in the field. In fact, he collected not only a genuine feral hog, he took photos of the feat. And when asked, he generously agreed to furnish his photos for the website, both of which can be found below.
But what is interesting here is that Dan was the only one of the ten hunters to re-book for 2018 before he left camp. And, of course, Dan already has a spot on one of our turkey hunts this spring. We were encouraged from Dan's reports of what he saw regarding the feathered prey. Among a group of twenty or so bearded birds, Dan actually found four jakes. Whereas there are now these few, for the most part, jakes are a virtual endangered species around here. Why the hatch last spring was so poor is a "riddle wrapped in a conundrum, inside an enigma." Discussions on the subject around a camp fire could go on for hours.
Until the final day when a spit of rain came and the temperature dropped to the 30s, the weather on Hunt 9 was quite good. By then, of course, all the hunting had concluded, so it wasn't a factor. The tally board showed ten hunters collecting nine bucks and eighteen does. Plus, it was Jim Gillard who downed a dandy javelina. And Dan Mink took-out that feral hog. For a bunch of mostly first-ever hunters, they knocked the ball out of the park.
Hunt 8 December 10 - 14
John R.Newsome, Effingham, IL, our all-time best-ever, most faithful client, played host to family, friends and employees on this hunt. Unfortunately, illness kept John from coming. But his son, John A. (Johnny) and grandson John IV (Quatro) took over and did a most credible job.
At our traditional kickoff meeting and orientation, we tell hunters to be prepared on that very first afternoon to put a bullet into a buck that "melts their butter." Some are hesitant, not wanting their buck hunt to conclude so soon. But all hunts do not have a story-book ending where, during the last ten minutes of his final day, a hunter collects the largest buck he has seen. Indeed, already a couple of times this year, the largest buck of the hunt was taken the first afternoon. And we remember years where the largest of the season came on the first afternoon of a hunt.
And so it was on Hunt 8. Josh Kerr, Alvin, TX, an amigo of Quatro Newsome, on that very first afternoon of the hunt brought in a buck which now moves well into the lead as the largest buck taken so far in 2017. The 19" 5x5 taped 146 2/8 inches and weighed 170. A broken-off eye guard kept him from hitting the 150-inch milestone.
So Josh and his buck set the bar mighty high for the rest of the troops in the field. And a credible bunch of hunters they were. They included three who had taken our top buck of the year honors on four previous occasions - Tom Rentfro 2013, 2014; John A. Newsome 2010; and Myron Woomer 1996.
But that first night, other good bucks came in, as well. David Marrow, Magnolia, TX and Brian Burke, Naperville, IL, both kinsmen to the Newsomes by marriage, were the lucky hunters. Next morning, Johnny found a buck with a most unusual set of points on his antlers. We called him an 8 x 6 on his 18" rack.
That night, Tom Rentfro harvested a main-frame 12 pointer - a superb trophy, but unfortunately, an eyeguard was broken smooth off. Broken antlers here in mid-December with the rut beginning to taper-off somewhat are to be expected. But frankly, some observers had predicted much worse breakage back before the season got underway.
We had asked all eleven hunters to do their best to collect three does/each. They almost did it. When the final shot was fired on the last morning, we counted 31 does on our tally board. Plus, Quatro collected a dandy javelina and David Marrow had himself a nice fox. And Brian Burke elected to take a second buck, a tall ten pointer.
A long, long time guest of the Newsomes is Tom Anderson, now from Coal City, IL. Tom's ten pointer hit the 130-inch mark and was the second best of the hunt.
All eleven hunters collected bucks with one second buck harvested. Four were 4 x 4's. Four were 5 x 5's. Two were nine pointers. Then there was that 8 x 6 and the 6 x 6. That's a pretty good set of whitetail bucks any way you look at it.
The weather continues to be super-stable. Lows at night run from 25-35 at daylight (yes, there is frost on the windshields) to 65-75 during the afternoon. So you need a heavy coat early in the morning, but only shirt-sleeves during the afternoon. There has been some, but not much wind. Dry weather continues. The half-inch of rain last week has already disappeared. The wheat is hanging on by a whisker where deer are abundant even during mid-day. At sundown, scores of deer can be seen in the fields.
Our next hunt runs December 18-22. The one after that is December 27-31. Four hunts are scheduled for January. Hunt reports should follow the conclusion of each hunt by a day or so.
Hunt 7 December 5 - 9
The mild weather we've had since the first hunt back in early November came to a halt. Hunt 7 was cold almost from start to finish. And we got a bit of moisture, too - maybe a grand total of a half-inch over three days. Not much, but it will surely help our wheat and winter weeds.
In camp to experience all this was the most diverse group of the season. Three of the eight in camp were first-time visitors to the Adobe Lodge Home Camp. They were Tom Tekavec and Ken Shipley from WV and PA respectively, plus Tom Peterson, Odessa, FL. Two were long-timers with a dozen or more hunts at Adobe Lodge. They were Ray Hudgens, Jupiter, FL and Marie Boehler, Amsterdam, NY. And three had 2-4 years Adobe Lodge experience. They were Craig Nowell, St. Martinville, LA; Aaron Roberts, Corpus Christi, TX; and Mike Dellis, Ahwahnee, CA. Actually, Mike had never hunted our Home Camp, but had been with us when we hunted the F-Ranch many years ago.
So if you have kept track of the domiciles mentioned above, only two came from the same state, but they came as singles from the east and west sides of Florida. Speaking of singles, all came alone except two - Tekavec and Shipley were together, but they live in different states. Mercy - my head is already spinning. Forget all these mindless statistics. How did they do?
As mentioned earlier, it was cold almost the entire time. Since the rut is hot and heavy now, and with this being the first real cold spell of the season, one would think the deer hunting would have been fast and furious. As things happen in this crazy sport, the hunt evolved slowly over the four days. When the hunt kicked-off on Tuesday afternoon with a chilly north wind, the hunters brought in several does and reported seeing plenty of small bucks but no large ones. And only a few does. Tom Peterson, however, collected a beautiful 28 lb. bobcat that blustery afternoon.
Wednesday, it rained all day. Actually, it would be best described as a drizzle. It fell so slowly that our roads hardly got muddy. Temperatures during all this time were around 35 or so. A few does got harvested, of the few that were seen. Observers speculated that with the rut hot and heavy, the smaller bucks hang-out at the feeders while the larger bucks are out chasing does. But not always. That night, Tom Tekavec collected the largest buck of the hunt - a whopping 19 1/2" ten pointer.
Thursday, it was even colder with some "almost flurries" of snow. As you might imagine, the wind chill was disagreeable, but the troops kept up the good work by continuing to collect does despite few opportunities to do so. The rain came to an end, but Aaron Roberts, from Corpus Christi down on the Texas coast, was getting photos from his family of a snow in that normally balmy city. They wound up with maybe 3 inches or so, something which happens less often than once per decade.
Now it's Friday morning, the last full day of the hunt and our eager troops have only one buck on our tally board. But Mike Dellis doubled our buck harvest on this particular hunt that cold morning by taking a good eight pointer with a most unusual eye guard point. Check out his photo below. The others finally accumulated a respectable number of does as they continued to accommodate their outfitter's wishes by hammering down on the anterless deer. And never mind the brutal hunting conditions. Finally, Friday afternoon, some of the choosy hunters made good shots on their selections.
Aaron Roberts found a good nine pointer he liked. Craig Nowell found a buck with kickers all over the place. We counted twelve altogether. And Ken Shipley got an 18 1/4" eight but says he turned down a monster five pointer. When shown the photo of a giant six point taken back in 2010 with a 24" spread, Ken declared the five point to be much wider and taller. Maybe someone will tag him before the fat lady sings in late January.
On the final morning with the temperature in the mid-20s, all three of the buck-less hunters rose to the challenge but came in empty-handed. Craig Boehler, formerly a hunter who has now converted to an Adobe Lodge guide for his beautiful wife, Marie plus Craig Nowell from south Louisiana, announced he was ready to quit. His Adobe Lodge guiding job was getting him down. Why? What could have happened? Craig Boehler, the guide, had put Craig Nowell in a blind where javelinas are known to roam since Mr. Nowell wanted one to hang on his wall. He located Marie where he thought she'd have the best chance at her goal - a big, mature buck.
As things so often happen around here, Mr. Nowell (who already had his buck) sees a possible candidate for Boone and Crockett. And wouldn't you know it? Marie sees nothing but javelinas. We hope Craig Boehler will recover from all this stress - actually he is one fine guide.
Here's the final tally for the eight hunters: of the five who took bucks, one was hunting under the "Trophy Option" while four were regular price. Of the three who failed to take bucks, two were "Trophy Option" and one was a regular price hunter. Seven took three does/each; one took two does making a total of 23 does for the group. And don't forget that bobcat.
We still have three slots open on our January 18-21 date. Remember, the price on that hunt is discounted to $2500.
Hunt 6 November 30 - December 4
This sixth hunt of 2017 is dedicated to the memory of Bill Knapp - whose obituary and story appear elsewhere on this website. For the first time since way back in 1997, Bill wasn't here. But no doubt he was here in spirit to join his offspring and friends.
Last year, Bill set up his annual trip to Adobe Lodge to include grandson, Dylan Knapp. This year, Bill had asked to include another grandson, Andrew, Dylan's year-younger brother. The goal both years was for the boys to take their first-ever buck. Since Bill had collected our coveted "Buck of the Year" honors three times and son Eric, the boy's father had also won this annual award, Bill's goal was to "pass the torch" to the next generation of hunters.
One of Bill's long-time amigos, Wendell (Mac) McPherson last year brought HIS son, Brian, along on their annual trek to West Texas. This year, Brian, in turn, brought along his daughter to hopefully take her first-ever buck.
After Bill's initial trip here way back in 1997, he has been accompanied ever since by Ray Reynolds. And a couple/three years ago, Ray's son, Andy, came along with Dad.
So you might say the entire hunt consisted of family and friends introduced to the delights of Adobe Lodge hunting by Bill Knapp. Indeed, Bill had told friend Ray after that first visit that he had found a place they could both go until they got too old to hunt. Ray, now 85, will try to make it back next year but must cope first with some health issues for his wife and himself.
The only "outsider" in camp was our old amigo, Mike Kramer, Lake Villa, IL who had to move his date due to complications with his schedule. Bill Knapp, when contacted, had graciously accepted Mike onto this special hunt. Sadly, Bill didn't quite live to see it all come together, but had it not been for him, none of us would have ever come to know the rest of the Knapp family, the Reynolds family and the McPhersons. To all of us at Adobe Lodge, that is the real blessing of the hunting camp. We get to know people from all across this nation whom we would never had met without this deer hunting business.
With this being said, it is difficult to see how the hunt could have unfolded any better. For one thing, the weather was extremely mild with modest temperatures and winds. That first night, Andy Reynolds drew blood from a buck, but on-the-spot analysis by his guide, Bill Scott, called for a halt to the search until the next morning. It worked. Andy's buck was a dandy - a 21" ten pointer. If that wasn't enough, his dad, Ray, that very same morning of the search, collected a beauty of his own. You would think that a buck the size of Andy's would best all the rest, but it wasn't to be.
Andrew Knapp downed a magnificent 12 pointer, 20" wide. Actually, he's a main-frame ten with a pair of twin kickers on his G-2s. No, Andrew's first-ever buck can't win Buck of the Year honors but he comes close. He's only a mere eighth of an inch behind the 140-inch buck taken by Lee Wilson back on Hunt 3. But Andrew has clearly started down the trail to replace his grandfather as "Legend of Adobe Lodge."
The hunters were encouraged to take lots of does, and they did their best. The skinning shed was busy; our freezers were jam-packed; and we had to send to town for more butcher paper.
Next day, Dylan Knapp got a buck, a 9 pointer with an unusual configuration on his left beam. Then, on the third morning, things real got busy when Mac McPherson, Mike Kramer and Eric Knapp all tagged out on good bucks.
But Brian McPherson, guiding daughter Renae, a senior in high school, were having heck. After easily collecting a nice doe on the first afternoon for her "first-ever deer" as a proper "dress rehearsal" for the big event should an acceptable buck come along, poor Renae's luck had gone south. And the entire camp was pulling for her to get that first buck. Finally, on the last night, she did it. A 19" eight pointer. Yep, dad Brian was one happy camper, but his relentless guiding for his daughter had prevented his own quest for a buck. Brian was the only hunter without a buck, but did manage to collect a couple of good does with one of them, at 105 lbs., the heaviest of all the does taken over the four days.
Also on that last night, Mike Kramer fulfilled one of his goals by collected an impressive javelina with a set of the most wicked teeth we've seen in a while. Check the photo of these dentures below.
So eight for nine with two "First-Evers" on bucks; twenty three does; and one javelina. Dylan Knapp also hit two prickly pear cactus pads with one shot, as confirmed by his guide, Tony Kieffer which cost him that third doe. Very minor bad news for an otherwise super-successful hunt and tribute to Bill Knapp.
Hunt 5 November 25 - 29
Each year beginning back in 2009, our Adobe Lodge compound has been invaded by seafood people, hosted by Trey Pearson and JBS Packing Company, Port Arthur, TX.
Despite being mightily impacted by the Harvey storm (and you should have heard some of the stories told by those on the front lines), here they came in force. In addition to Trey, Jimmi Stringfellow has made every trip. Others in the group - Lance Stringfellow, Clinton Jones, Brent Zirlott, and Don Savely - are frequent guests. Boaty Campbell was back for the second year. The only first-timer was Ryan Ancelet. But in order to accurately understand the results of this hunt, here are a couple of important facts:
1. As a whole, these guys have much experience hunting the San Angelo area.
2. They are mighty competitive, both on bucks and does.
There were rumors of "a pot" for the largest doe. So with everyone's "selectivity factor" dialed up to the max, the harvest went mighty slow. At the kickoff meeting, the group had been urged to take lots of does. But unless a particular doe was a candidate to win that pot, she was given a pass. Only one or two were brought in for butchering each half-day. At the half-way point in the four day hunt, we could tabulate only 13 does. Four had two; one had three; and two had one/each. And no bucks.
But during the first half of the game, Brent Zirlott, did manage to collect a nice gray fox. Brent's main contribution was, however, treating one and all to all the raw oysters they could eat. Brent and his son operate an impressive oyster farm off Murder Point, AL. Some of our guides, unused to such bounty here on the edge of the desert, pigged out on the treats. Shrimp - the business of almost all the hunters - were featured every meal except breakfast.
Finally, on the third night, a couple of dandy bucks were photoed. Clinton Jones, Irvington, AL, who has won our "Buck of the Year" honors twice, brought in the widest buck of the year so far with an outside spread of 23 1/2 inches on his eight point frame. Brent Zirlott collected a super-high horned eight, as well. No telling how long those G-2s were - we forgot to measure them.
Next day at noon, Boaty Campbell brought in another eight point that topped the 20-inch mark. And thus ended the buck harvest, even with an evening and a morning hunt yet to go. When it was finally over, 19 does had been harvested, the heaviest of which at 107 lbs. was taken by Boaty. Other hundred-plus pound does were taken by Ryan Ancelet, Clinton Jones, Jimmi and Lance Stringfellow, and Brent Zirlott.
The weather continues to be seasonally mild. Temperatures at daybreak are in the 30s when it's cold; in the high 40s when it's not. Daytime temperatures are similar: high 60s on a "cold day" to almost 80 when it's warm. Rain is badly needed but refuses to come. The rut is hot and heavy now, no doubt about it. Bucks are hungry and keep the does away from the corn feeders. Many, many dead deer and varmints are seen on area highways.
Hunt 4 November 18 - 22
Once again, a magnificent buck was taken by an experienced hunter on the first night of the hunt. Lyle Olson was the lucky guy. His super-heavy horned ten pointer showed all the rest of the hunters in camp just what the potential was, and sure enough, the buck harvest was slow and deliberate as everyone patiently waited for a butter-melter. Lyle's dandy buck had raised the boiling-point for them all. Lyle, from Chapin, SC, reminded us this was his 14th trip in a row to our camp.
But just because the buck hunting was slow, that doesn't mean the doe harvest was too. Remember we are leaning on all the hunters to bear down on the antlerless deer this year. And they did, probably averaging 5-7 does per half day. Which kept our skinning shed hopping. Although the weather was super decent and typical for this time of year (30s early; 60s-70s late afternoon), the reports of buck sightings were sporadic with some seeing a dozen or more while others saw only one -or two - or none. And there were reports of bucks running does, but maybe not quite in earnest yet. It's hard to tell.
On the second afternoon, Pat Keough, Rye, NY connected with a 17" eight pointer during a perfectly beautiful afternoon. Five does were butchered, as well. So after three outings, the picky hunters had found only two bucks they liked. Next morning, Jim Davis, St. Louis Park, MN got a ten pointer. Jim, on his third trip to Adobe Lodge, was introducing Ralph Anderson from Minnetonka to our Texas-style hunting. Finally, on the third night, not only Ralph, but three others tagged great bucks. Four in one night - mercy.
In addition to Ralph's eight pointer which weighed 161 lbs, the heaviest of the hunt, Adobe Lodge multi-year veteran Ed McFarland, Lyle Olson's amigo from Anderson, SC collected a heavy-horned eight, 17 1/2" wide. The photo crew was super busy that night with Donald Keough, Pat's son, taking a 16 1/2" eleven pointer with a kicker on a G2. Last but not least, Scott Murdoff, on his 2nd Adobe Lodge adventure, got his photo made with a high-horned main-frame eleven pointer. Scott hails from Plano, TX up near Dallas.
Bringing up the rear of the photo session that busy night, Pat Keough showed us his 55 lb. javelina which he is getting shoulder-mounted to display back home in New York. That will keep the bad guys away.
Headed into the home stretch then, six of the eight hunters had filled every slot on our tally board and clocked-out early. That left only Scott Murdoff who needed a couple of does and Dude Phelan, Ocala, FL still hunting. Dude, who had stayed over from Hunt 3 reported seeing plenty of bucks. Mostly. But every now and then, Dude's pickings were poor. But he was after a good'un. Hunting under our unique "Trophy Option" plan, Dude was content to be choosy, waiting for one he judged to be worth the trophy fee. Sadly, it didn't happen. Dude, accompanied by his lovely wife, Stephanie, for both hunt dates, returned home with a cooler jam-packed with deer meat from the five does he harvested during his stay, but no buck. Dude wasn't a bit disappointed - he re-booked for another pair of back-to-back hunts for 2018.
If you have managed to keep up with this rambling narrative, you will have counted seven bucks and twenty-four does plus one javelina for the eight hunters in camp. And they took all available slots for 2018. Can't do better than that.
Happy Thanksgiving to all. Indeed, we have much for which to give thanks. There is not room enough on this web page to list all our blessings. But we are thankful.
Hunt 3 November 13 - 17
Six Adobe Lodge veterans and two newcomers were in camp for our third hunt of the season. Alabama sent two, Georgia had two, Florida had a couple of single hunters, and one each came from New Jersey and from Virginia. By supper on the first night, everyone knew everyone but the talk was all about that buck taken the first afternoon of the hunt.
Lee Wilson has been at our Home Camp five times but has also hunted the McManus Camp and a no-frills ranch in our group, plus several other places in Texas before he found us. So Lee, who hails from Gulf Shores, AL, knows a good'un when he sees him. No doubt, his 20 1/2" ten pointer takes the lead as the season's best so far with an even 140 inches of horns on his head. Lee had set the bar mighty high for the rest in camp.
Lee's hunting amigo, Ken Carter, who now lives also in Alabama, was similarly in the lead for Biggest Buck honors last season until a couple of whoppers were tagged after Christmas. Speculation among the guides had it that the hunt would proceed slowly as the rest of the troops would hold out waiting for something spectacular. That failed to come to pass. Bucks were taken right along, about one per half-day.
Next to claim a buck was first-timer, Kevin Yeater, Snellville, GA. Unfortunately, a missed shot cost another hunter (who insists on remaining un-named) a near-contender to Lee's buck. That afternoon, Matt Shubert, who took the final slot on this hunt date only a couple weeks ago, found some G-2s and 3s on a buck that appeared to be almost ten inches long. But dad-gummit, one main beam was broken off a few inches back of the tip. So the lucky buck got a pass from Matt.
That same second afternoon, good news and bad news came to camp. The good? Ben Yeater who is Kevin's son from Monroe, GA, collected a heavy-horned 11 pointer with kickers off both G-2s. The bad? Dude Phelan, Ocala, FL who hunted with us last year for the first time since the early 1990s, hit one that could not be found that night.
Next morning, Dude and guide Buryl Williams searched high and low finding only one small drop of blood. No telling how far they walked. Because Dude was certain the buck would be found and because Buryl had heard the shot make that distinctive "Whop" when a deer's body is hit, the pair used our Polaris Ranger to more thoroughly cover the large, hilly area. They looked under every bush and rock that afternoon. Still no buck. What a bummer!!! And if that wasn't enough, there were reports of yet another missed shot by yet another hunter.
That third night, finally good news returned. Ken Carter tagged a tall-horned dude. Ken was the only hunter to collect his limit of three does, too, earning our profound gratitude. Speaking of does, only eight were taken by the eight hunters with two DNF does posted on the tally board.
On the third morning, H.B. Lantz got a 17 1/2" ten pointer that had the end of his left main beam missing. Was this the same buck seen by Matt Shubert? Even with the missing tines, H.B.'s buck lacked only an eighth of an inch hitting the magical 130 number. Had those antlers been intact, he was easily a mid-130s type, for sure.
As an aside here, our taxidermist says such missing tines or pieces of main beams can be restored so that even the buck's mother would suspect nothing artificial whatsoever to her darling baby boy. Lesson: don't let missing antler parts stop you from getting a good buck. Only your taxidermist will know for sure, and he ain't telling.
On the last night, Matt Shubert and Bill Wurfel collected a pair of ten-pointers that looked like twins. Nothing like a photo-finish to set an outfitter's heart to racing. Bill collected his buck with his .50 cal. muzzle loader, too, just as he did at the McManus Camp last week. He loves that polution-causing weapon.
Nevertheless, counting that DNF on the buck, all were successful, and the best news was the fact that five of the eight re-booked for 2018. Dude Phelan, and his lovely wife, Stephanie who is here as a non-hunter, will be staying over for Hunt 4, the last hunt before Thanksgiving. The weather was mostly decent for the entire hunt, but a bit warm at times. It is supposed to get cooler for a day or two, but nothing super cold, thank goodness.
Hunt 2 November 8 - 12
We have been praying for rain. On the day Hunt 2 got underway, here it came. Thank You Jesus. And we will deal with wet weather and muddy roads the best we can. As it turned out, only the first afternoon of the hunt was affected.
The hunt kicked off two-shy of the eight on our list. Scott Patterson and son Ryan were late getting here due to Ryan's school schedule down in Houston. Scott's brother, Lynn, from Kingsland, TX was here for the kickoff. He had introduced both kinsmen to the delights of Adobe Lodge hunting several years ago. Lynn, originally from Odessa, TX, has been here 10-12 times. He is a proud uncle who is coaching his nephew on the finer points of bow hunting.
Jim Mousseau put together a group of four - his sister, Cheryl and her husband Stephen Moon from Freeland, MI, plus their cousin Pete Mousseau from Macomb, MI. Jim, who now lives in Golden, CO and Pete were both here on our final hunt of 2016. Interestingly, all four re-booked for 2018 before leaving camp.
The eighth hunter was Peter Ruseski from San Diego, CA. Faithful readers will recall seeing Peter's Porsche in camp last year. Danged if he didn't come in that same rig once again. You have to admit there are precious few hunting camps with a Porsche in the parking lot. And that sleek vehicle sped back to California loaded down with healthy venison. No other vehicle of that make has transported as much deer meat. Ever.
No doubt, many more deer were out and about during the cooler weather on this hunt compared to the near-record heat days of the previous hunt. And, for sure, many does were taken as we had asked the hunters to do. But of the eight hunters in camp, only four of them took bucks. That might be alarming to those who don't know this bunch as well as we do. Actually, the four bucks were about what we had projected. Here is the deal:
Peter Ruseski comes to harvest does for his freezer back home in southern California where few people eat meat of any kind. Peter does, and loves it, especially venison. Peter wasn't going to shoot even at our fabled "Buck of the Year."
You could almost say the same thing about Scott Patterson, Lynn Patterson, and Jim Mousseau. To be sure, all three would probably have shot at a super-monster, but none was seen by any of them. All were hunting under our unique "Trophy Option" price, and all were perfectly content to take their quota of does and to bypass bucks which failed to meet their high standards.
The four bucks taken by the others were good ones, as you will see in the photos below. Ryan Patterson took his buck that first morning he was in camp. That same busy day, Stephen Moon got a pair of javelinas, the first he'd ever seen. But Stephen's gun was off. His guide loaned him a gun - the defective weapon could be dealt with later on back home.
Pete Mousseau, on the second afternoon, reported "missing" a buck. Guide Jerry Watts, who has been here longer than anyone and who has heard this tale before, insists that when a report comes in of a "missed" shot, you had better dang sure check it out. Sure enough, the next morning, the search party found Pete's missing buck. And when you see Pete's photo below, you will agree it would be a crying shame to lose a buck such as this one. The rascal had almost 133 inches on his 18", nine-point frame.
Using that borrowed gun, Stephen Moon collected his buck, yet another eighteen-incher, on Thursday afternoon. So finally things were going our way.
But uh-oh. On Friday afternoon, Cheryl Moon also reported a missed shot. Were we about to see the same thing, once again? Not quite. After much discussion and game strategy, Cheryl told her guide, Tony Kieffer, that she wanted to see if that same buck might return once again. With split G-2s on both sides, he would be easily recognizable. And that's exactly what happened. He returned; this time she didn't miss. Way to go, Cheryl. Never mind that some of his points had already broken off. We called him a nine, but he was once a ten. And at 162 lbs. was the largest buck of the hunt.
So eight hunters collected four bucks and 24 does. Plus Jim Mousseau got himself a nice fox; Stephen Moon took those two javelinas; and Pete Mousseau removed a couple of feral hogs earning our everlasting gratitude. Altogether it was a great hunt with five re-bookings. The three Patterson's promised to return once Ryan's school schedule next fall comes into focus. As it stands now, there are three slots open for 2018.
Hunt 1 November 3 - 7
The calendar said it was hunting season, but it surely didn't seem like it. Except when we looked around camp. We could count seven of the eight hunters were veterans and have been here many times. They were raring to go. Yep, it was time to hunt alright.
Take John R. Newsome, for example. He has been coming three-five times each season since 1995. John was accompanied as usual by his faithful sidekick, Myron Woomer. Both are from the Effingham area of Illinois. Tom Biehl, from Fleetwood, PA, is another with many years of continual Adobe Lodge experience going back to 2001. That's seventeen years in a row for those who are mathematically challenged. Tom's son, Hunter, has been coming almost as many years. We love father/son groups.
And we had another batch of them, too - Joe Ivey with sons Russell and Tony were here once again. All are from the Houston area. Joe, who first hunted alone with us about five years ago, is now bringing both offspring along for the great and glorious good times they have hunting whitetails.
The only first-timer was Melvin Ellington from Hyattsville, MD. Melvin says he lives only six minutes from downtown D.C. - mighty close to the swamp, if you ask me.
So how did they do, you ask? Mighty good, we claim, especially given the weather conditions and the full moon. Indeed, until the final morning, we had record temperatures almost to the 90s every day. At daybreak, it would be all the way down to the low 70s. And no wind to speak of. And then on the third morning, it was so foggy you couldn't distinguish the sex of a deer at 100 yards. Despite these challenges, the hunters collected almost a full tally board of deer. We had asked them to take three does apiece if possible. They almost did it.
Tony Ivey collected a dandy 3x4, but in doing so, he got to see something mighty rare. His buck had been in a "fight-to-the-death" with another evenly matched combatant. No telling how long the battle lasted, but with all the warfare in motion, Tony had heck finding a decent shot. Most hunters, including me, have never seen a sho'nuff fight - just a little sparring around a feeder, and that's about it. Having a ring-side seat for such an event is a priceless added treasure you get from being out in the woods hunting whitetails. That's the good news.
The bad news was the DNF (did not find) posted on the tally board next to Melvin Ellington's name. We were all pulling for him, too, since he is undergoing chemo for lung cancer and was supported on this hunt by his sister, Donna Reynonds back home. His treatments over the past year or so have interfered with his strength and abilities, but he soldiered on and did manage to collect a couple of antlerless deer along the way. Melvin re-booked for next year, even though his doctors give him less than a year. What do they know, he insists - they were saying that a couple of years ago. What an attitude!!!
The stats of the hunt, despite the heat, were as follows: eight hunters collected seven bucks plus that DNF. Eighteen does were butchered, but there were a few DNF's on them, as well. Four collected three/each; two had two plus a DNF each; one took two; one elected to take none. So that makes 25 deer butchered in our skinning shed. It was a busy place, for sure. Hunter Biehl, on the final morning of the hunt, accompanied his dad who was keen on collecting a buck he had seen earlier. Hunter got a nice gray fox, his first-ever. Tom settled for a lesser buck than what he was after - all a part of the sport.
Joe Ivey re-booked their party of three even before they got to camp. So did Melvin. Tom Biehl, eighty two now, hates to make a firm commitment, and Hunter will let us know later. As it stands now, four slots are open for the 2018 season.
A cold front moves through our area as the next hunt kicks off. So maybe that will make the deer move even better.