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Hunt 1 November 4 - 7
Our brochure says that we cater to corporate groups, families, friends, and solo hunters. It was families which dominated this hunt date - a dad from Houston with three children, a dad from southern California with his son, and a father from PA with his son. All, save one female, are multi-year veterans. In fact, Tom and Hunter Biehl can date their first trip with us back to the early 2000s.
Once again, our early November weather was near perfect, bordering on being too hot for hunting whitetails. That would change to cold rain and wind the final morning, but by then, we had an empty camp: all had departed, having tagged-out early.
Joe Ivey found us at the Texas Trophy Hunters show in Houston several years ago and now comes every year to host his three grown children. Daughter Narie was to have been here last year but couldn't make it. She made up for lost time this year by taking a mighty good nine-pointer plus three does. Joe and son Russell took nine and eight points,respectively, but it was Tony Ivey who collected a most unique 14 pointer, 19 1/2" wide. If memory serves, Tony's buck is the first we've ever had in camp that lacked a tail. Can you then call him a "no-tail white tail?" But he made up for that deficiency by growing one heck of a set of antlers, as you will see below.
John Seps and son, Sam, from San Jacinto, CA knocked the ball out of the park by taking two bucks plus six does to fill their limit. But it didn't stop there. John got himself a turkey and a coon at one sitting. After downing one of his does, sometime later a buck shows up and John got a fatal bullet into him, as well. Just to be sure the buck was, in fact, dead, John went for a look. Yep, he was dead alright. Upon returning to his blind, he checks the field of view once more. Uh-oh. Something was perched atop his doe, staring at him. What was it? Wisely, he put his scope instead of his binoculars to his eyes. He was therefore instantly ready to shoot whatever. Turned out to be a beautiful bobcat. A 28 lb. male, he was, with exceptionally defined spots on his hide. What a mount he will make.
Not to be outdone in taking critters, Sam Seps got a limit of javelinas, 42 and 60 pounds.
Finally, it was the Pennsylvania Biehl's - Tom from Fleetwood and Hunter from Wyomissing, who each collected their lifetime best Adobe Lodge bucks after hunting with us for the past 15-20 years. Hunter's buck sported such spectacular antlers that it was impossible to properly capture all 12 points on that 21 inch frame with just one photo. So below, you will see a couple of views of this magnificent trophy. By an even one-half inch, Hunter moves into the lead in this year's list of top bucks with the 147 7/8 inches on that beautiful buck's head.
Father Tom, having been a regular with us for almost 20 years now, knows what one of our good ones looks like. But he had a huge challenge in his effort to best his son's buck going into the final hours of the hunt. Arriving back in camp on the final night, Tom admitted he was forced to take a "last-day buck. Just an eight-pointer," he moaned. Some eight pointer. Wait till you see the photo below. The 21-inch monster taped out at 137 3/8 inches. After supper, we reviewed our recently reorganized bookshelf of photo books. Tom's previous best buck with us was an eighth-inch smaller. So now at the age 84 years-young, Tom has taken his lifetime Adobe Lodge best with that incredible eight-point rack. An eight point with that many inches is a trophy for sure.
All eight hunters collected bucks. All but one took a limit of three does. Let's not forget the bobcat, the turkey, the javelinas and the raccoon, either. And they all left camp with a half-day yet to go. But the most important news was this: they all re-booked for the 2020 season. It will be great to see these three family groups again next year.
We are indebted to John Seps for sending the two final photos in the collection below. With his camera, he captured an image of a buck he found after taking his buck, doe, and bobcat earlier in the hunt as described above.
October 27 - 31
The weather could not have been more perfect at the kickoff of Hunt A. The next day, it got worse. Misty rain and low 40s for three days. The final morning saw clear skies but 19 degrees on the camp thermometer - our first freeze of the fall and a full two weeks earlier than normal. Often hunters ask: "what weather can I expect on my hunt?" Who the heck knows? Our advice: check accu-weather to know what clothes to bring.
Five first-timers and three veterans gave us our first look at what this 2019 season might bring. Judging by the bucks they took and the numbers written on our tally board, things will be much different and better than a year ago.
John R. Newsome and his faithful amigo, Myron Woomer, both from central Illinois, have been here more times than we can count - 2 or 3 times each season for 25 years.
Driving in from Southern California and here for his third time with us was Jim Gillard.
Adobe Lodge rookies were Chris Coffin plus his son, Grayson, and nephew, J.D - all from Austin, TX. Jim West, originally from northern California but now living at Wimberly, TX, near Austin, came as a single. The 8th hunter was Freddy McCall, from Pollock, LA. He brought along his lovely wife, Kathleen, as a non-hunter.
From the pre-hunt information sheet returned to us by each hunter, we learned that many of them had taken only a few bucks. So, at the kickoff meeting following the introduction event where we all learn everyone's name, home town, occupation, etc., all were encouraged to pass on bucks that first afternoon to prevent anyone taking a lower-end animal. You will see plenty of bucks, we assured the group, so wait until you know what's out there. Even though one hunter passed on what his cell phone photo told us was surely an exceptional shooter, most waited patiently and finally took great bucks. Indeed, two of them were better than the Home Camp's "Buck of the Year" in 2018.
Myron Woomer, who collected our season's best back in 1996 (just to show you how long he and Mr. Newsome have been coming) knew better than to pass on what he saw that first afternoon. Myron got himself a drop-tine dude, 19" wide with ten points. John Newsome took a 22-incher with ten points the next morning. But John is always more interested in the shot presented to him than what might be the size of a buck. Shooting through a small opening in the heavy brush, John's 2nd buck was a 16" ten pointer, as well.
That second night, Jim West's buck amazed us all. The 20" ten pointer put an impressive 188 pounds on our super-accurate scale (provided to us by Craig and Marie Boehler who sell all kinds of measuring devices in upstate NY). That is the heaviest buck we have weighed in years, and with 142+ inches on his head, he topped last season's best at the Home Camp. Not to be outdone however, next morning the other Jim in camp, Mr. Gillard, found an 11 point whopper with even five more inches of antlers. Already, we had two bucks larger than last season's best.
By noon on the third day, with the weather still somewhere around 40 and super damp, all the other hunters had collected bucks. Chris Coffin's ten pointer had split G-1s (eye guards) to give him 12 points. All the rest were ten's except for one nine. Remarkably, Grayson Coffin's 16 1/2" ten moved into # 1, size-wise, with 191 pounds. And speaking of weight, all but one of the 18 does taken by the group put 80+, 90+ and even 100+ pounds on our board. Jim Gillard's first doe topped out at 122 pounds, but Freddy McCall, Jim West, and all three Coffin's collected does in excess of 100 pounds. Yep, they took home lots and lots of venison.
Freddy McCall elected to take a 2nd buck on the final night as a second cold front dropped temperatures to the low 30s. Although he was the only 8 point taken on the hunt, the 18 1/4" monster topped all weights at 193.8 pounds.
The final statistics on Hunt A are mighty good. Eight hunters took ten bucks and 18 does. They set the bar pretty doggone high for the rest of the season. Especially in the weight category. Yes, range conditions from late 2018 to July 4, 2019 were the best in memory. From here on, now that dry weather has its clammy fingers looped around our necks, and with the rut just around the corner, buck weights are sure to drop by 10-20%. And with no green forage, to be found no-where, all the rest of our ruminant animals will struggle.
But the harsh range conditions make for extra-lively activity around the corn feeders. Lots of deer are being seen, unlike the strange and unlikely situation a year ago. The fall of 2019 compared to 2018 is 180 degrees different.
The best news of all: every single hunter re-booked for 2020 before leaving camp, including the first-timers. Already we are eager to see them all once again.