McManus Camp 2017 Hunt Reports and Photos of All Bucks
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Please note: Hunts are posted in reverse order with the most recent hunt at the top of the page. To follow the season in order, scroll to the bottom of the page and work your way to the top.
Hunt 4 December 13 - 16
An email came from California wanting to know if we could move the date of the McManus Camp's fourth hunt a bit for a party of four. We could and we did. So here they came in a huge motor home fit for a country music star.
The group consisted of father Steve Petrucci and his sons Kris and Nick. All are from Sebastopol, in the wine country up north of San Francisco. The fourth hunter was their amigo and long time hunting buddy, Carl Nommsen, from Santa Rosa.
The group's only previous deer hunting in Texas was a couple hundred miles to the north of here. What a disappointing experience. Only two bucks were seen the entire time, and they managed to collect only one of them. Not much of a hunt compared to the McManus Camp which has enjoyed a 100% success on bucks for the last dozen or more years. No telling how many bucks were seen by the Californians during their stay with Beaver.
The dude taken by Carl Nommsen on his second outing at the McManus Camp just might wind up as our "Buck of the Year." For sure, he moves into the lead by a bunch. Check out that first photo below showing both Carl and Beaver. He's a 13 pointer with 152 inches of antlers. Were it not for that broken-off G-4, he would be almost a 155. What a buck.
And if that wasn't enough, on the afternoon of that same day, Nick Petrucci collected a 146- incher, the second largest McManus buck of the season. So: Numbers One and Two were taken on the final hunt. Never let it be said that late-season hunts are inferior to the earlier ones. Nick's beautiful trophy whitetail was a classic 18" ten pointer. He, too, lost almost two inches to a broken eye-guard.
Carl and Nick had set the bar mighty high for Steve and Kris Petrucci. Both were looking at lots of bucks, trying to find something to beat the first two. Kris got close with a tall ten pointer. He was 16 1/4 inches wide, a handsome Texas whitetail.
Steve's buck had an unusual set of antlers which confirmed an old adage concerning damage to a buck's hind leg. It is said that a significant injury will cause a deformed antler on the opposite side. In other words: damage to a left hind leg will cause the right antler to be deformed. Steve's buck certainly proved this. Steve said the buck had a noticeable limp on his left side. Sure enough - check out that right antler in the photos below.
So the McManus Camp's 2017 season closes on a most positive note. As noted above, once again - 100% success on bucks. And perhaps the Adobe Lodge's coveted "Buck of the Year" honors. Time will tell. But it will take one heck of a buck to move Carl Nommsen out of the lead.
In the collection of photos below, many deer are shown which hang-out right in camp. All those photos were taken just a few steps from the front steps to the bunkhouse.
Hunt 3 November 29 - December 2
There is one thing to keep in mind about low-fence, fair-chase hunting: you just never know when you are looking at the largest buck you will see during a hunt. It might be the first 15 minutes of the first afternoon, or it could be a story-book climax where you take the largest buck of the year only 5 minutes before the curtain falls on your adventure.
And so it was on Hunt 3 at the McManus Camp. Several of Beaver's hunters said they had seen much larger bucks on that first afternoon's hunt than what they finally collected. As so many Adobe Lodge hunters have noted over the years- they didn't want their hunt to end so quickly that early in the hunt. And to their regret, they never saw a better trophy during the following days than that first one on the first afternoon.
But that is not to say that the hunters on Hunt 3 took inferior bucks. Indeed, all four of them are mighty handsome. Take a look at the entire collection below.
First to tag-out was Tim Williams, Salem, NJ with a 14 1/2" eight point. But Tim had waited until just after the half-way point in the hunt to make his selection on Friday morning.
That night, it was Kenny McKelvey's turn to get lucky. Kenny was the only hunter in camp with previous McManus Camp experience. Kenny had been here a year ago with Drew Hoglen and his grandfather, Ellsworth Harris, all of whom live in Elmer, NJ. Kenny's buck was a 16" eight pointer.
On the morning of the final day, David Zeck from Monroeville, NJ put his tag on a 14 1/4" eight pointer. David barely got to make the hunt. He scrambled to make plans with only about 48 hours to get plane reservations, etc. in place. It was a photo finish if there ever was one.
The final buck, another eight pointer, was taken by Larry Lore on that last afternoon of the hunt. The Bridgeton, NJ hunter's buck was almost a ten, as you will see in the photo below, but you couldn't quite "hang a ring" on what almost were G-4s.
Kenny McKelvey got to see a rare sight. A bobcat had slipped into the area near a corn feeder to watch several deer nibble at the free food. Kenny's shot at the feline missed, dad-gummit.
And the same thing happened to Larry Lore after he had successfully taken his buck. Here came a large gray fox to inspect the activity around the feeder. Another missed shot at a lucky varmint. So the score was: Varmints - 2; Hunters - 0. Oh well, the contests will continue, no doubt because of the proliferation of bobcats and foxes, the evidence of which is the severely diminished population of jack rabbits. You hardly see any of the bunnies anymore.
The weather continues to be exceptionally mild. Here in early December, it hasn't even been cold enough so far to completely rid the mesquite trees of all their leaves. And the dry weather has brought almost zero winter weeds, hence the activity around the corn feeders is almost always robust with hungry deer. The rut is quite active now, but hungry bucks are keeping does away from the corn feeders, if the females are not in heat, that is. If she is, a buck will still run her away, but for an altogether different purpose - romance out in the brush.
Hunt 2 November 13 - 16
It didn't take long for the action to get hot and heavy on the second hunt at the McManus Camp. That first afternoon, a long-time veteran hunter and a first-ever whitetail hunter connected on dandy bucks.
The veteran was Dave Hitchner from Bridgeton, NJ. who has hunted with Beaver McManus almost every year since 2010. Dave tagged a tall 16 1/2" eight pointer.
Although very experienced hunting elk and mule deer, Steve Berkley from El Paso, TX was here to see if he could collect a whitetail to add to his collection of trophy animals. And he did not stop with that first one - a 16" eight - he also took a ten point. Plus a couple of does. So, it is now a fact. Steve Berkley is a sho-nuff hunter of whitetails.
We have not seen Simon Bailey, from Marietta, GA at the McManus Camp since way back in 2002. But Simon made up for lost time by taking a pair of ten-pointers on the first morning's hunt (after that busy first afternoon.) How often does a hunter have the chance to collect two tens on the same hunt? Well done, Simon, well done.
Bucks were reported to be running does. The weather was seasonally decent - neither hot nor cold and not too windy. A dry cold front with some wind arrived after the hunt ended.
Hunt 1 November 8 - 11
For several years now, the same hunters have been together at the McManus Camp. Darl Hospelhorn, Waynesboro, PA and Jeff Hastings, Hagerstown, MD wouldn't think of missing the first hunt with Beaver. They were joined once again by Bill Wurfel, Robbinsville, NJ. Sadly, the fourth regular in the group, Ed Miller, wasn't on hand for the 2017 kickoff. Maybe next year - we hope so anyway.
You might say that unusual weapons are easy to find among this group. Jeff Hastings collected his buck with a .375 Thompson Contender pistol. And if this wasn't enough, Jeff also took a javelina with the same weapon. Jeff's buck was an 18" ten pointer, too.
Bill Wurfel loves to bring his .50 caliber black powder muzzle-loader. Bill took two bucks and a javelina with the smoke-pole. Bill's second buck was a dandy, too, with 132 inches of horn on his 18", nine-point rack.
On the first afternoon of the hunt, Darl Hospelhorn saw that 2nd buck taken by Bill Wurfel but because it was so early in the hunt, Darl passed on the dude. Interestingly, Jeff then saw that same buck but could just never get the right kind of shot he wanted. A wise move by an experienced and disciplined hunter. No one wants to wound and lose such a trophy. So after both Darl and Jeff had seen the buck, Bill Wurfel was lucky enough to get his own look and got him with that primitive weapon of his. Well done.
All three want to return next year, but only Darl and Jeff will be on the first hunt. Bill is juggling his busy fall hunting schedule and has to look at a later hunt with the McManus Camp.
Wet weather dominated the first day of the hunt, but it was followed by decent conditions for hunting - not too cold/not too hot. Reports of bucks running does were heard. Such behavior is at least two weeks early. The three hunters took four bucks and two javelinas in the 3 1/2 days of hunting.