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Hunt 14 January 22 - 26
(Season's final. Scroll down to see all the hunts.)
Our final hunt of the 2019 season was conducted over the days of the new moon. Even so, with mostly good weather, things ran hot and cold. Some half days, many bucks were seen; other outings found zip, zero, nada. One hunter would see oodles; another some distance away elsewhere found almost nothing. For sure, doe activity is close to non-existent. Reason: they are chasing green winter plants instead of yellow corn. Bucks, particularly the young ones, predominate around the feeders. Older bucks and does tend to avoid them. Result - the kind-of-tough hunting experienced by our last group of the season.
Were we to suffer a repeat of the infamous Hunt 6 from back in 2018 when only one hunter among the eight collected a buck? To make things even more ominous, four of those hunters back then were here for this final go-round. They were Georgia hunters, Henry Cooper, Steve Ruckel and Bill Cooper plus H.B. Lantz from up Virginia way.
Rounding out the tally board, all the rest in camp were Adobe Lodge veterans. This year, the Georgia delegation was joined by Jimmy Walker, here way back in 2010. Plus there was Lee Wilson, here earlier on Hunt 4. Finally, father/son Adobe Lodge veterans Pat and Donald Keough from Rye, NY helped us end the season.
Despite the slow start and exasperating lack of deer here and there, as the final few bucks of 2019 were harvested, there were still some mighty good ones, and reports of even better ones. So yes, the prediction is for a great seed crop next fall.
With Hunt 14 beginning at noon on Wednesday, it wasn't until mid-day on Thursday that the first buck got his picture made. Steve Ruckel took a mighty handsome eight point. Unfortunately, Steve got word of family health issues back home and had to fly-out early, missing half the hunt. The rest of the troops soldiered on, seeing varying numbers of whitetails for their efforts.
It wasn't until noon on Friday that the news began to improve. Henry Cooper collected a sho-nuff trophy, a 20 1/2" ten pointer. Pat Keough found a heavy eight, while son Donald's 18 1/4" ten taped 138 1/2", the tenth-best of the year. Not bad for the final hunt, eh? Our spirits were improving.
That night H.B. Lantz and Lee Wilson tagged bucks. So we had six-of-eight with a full day-and-a-half to go. The focus had turned to doe hunting as we urged our troops to fill that tally board with the antlerless whitetails. Pat and Don Keough took our admonition to heart and did exactly that.
Along toward the end, it was H.B. Lantz who revealed he had seen "the largest buck ever," after being here countless times since 2004, often more than once per season. H.B. description of the behemoth would have him close to, if not surpassing, the season's best. Pat Keough, on the final morning, described a buck he'd seen that was clearly superior to his son's trophy.
So what is the take-home message from these sightings of spectacular bucks? As we say countless times, over and over, to anyone who will listen: our low-fence, fair-chase, carefully-managed herd of whitetails might produce, any where, any time of the season, an exceptional monster - a buck of a lifetime. No, we don't have "trailer-loads" of such animals. They are few and far between. That is what makes them "Trophies" in the truest sense of the word. But the very fact that such exceptional animals were seen on our final hunt of the season is the reason fair-chase hunters have us booked full already for next season.
Quickly, here's the stats from # 14: eight hunters, seven bucks, 16 does, one javelina.
Hunt 13 January 15 - 19
A year ago on this same hunt, a couple of Utah mule deer/elk hunters decided to try whitetail hunting for a change. They took us up on our "First-Ever" offer and had such a good time, Dustin Bennett had the entire camp booked full for this season before he even arrived back home.
Several noteworthy items of interest about this year's hunt and the participants:
1. Hunters from "out west" have much more experience shooting at distant targets than do those of us who must deal with brush and trees. Most all said they were confident with distances of 300-400 yards. Come to find out, they were right. We are now believers; these guys can SHOOT. Out of the 32 whitetails harvested by the Utah gang, there wasn't one DNF on our tally board.
2. Our January hunts might be viewed skeptically by those who insist on hunting the rut. Or perhaps earlier in a season before the bucks have been "picked-over." Remembering the 2016 season, two January bucks made our All-Time Best chart with total inches of 158 3/8 and 148 1/8. On this hunt, a 157 2/8" buck assumes 8th place on that list which dates back to 1991. The lesson: January hunting can be just as good as any other time of the year. Two January bucks have earned our "Buck of the Year" title, as well.
3. In this normally dry country, we don't have very many wet hunts. But this one was. Up to an inch fell over the 2nd and 3rd day hampering guide's mobility and choice of blinds to use. But the rain will be a game-changer. The small, green plants were in bad need of a drink. Green feed here in the dead of winter will be of enormous benefit to bucks recovering from the stress of the rut.
4. As is typical of so many of our hunts, families on Hunt 13 dominated. Indeed, seven of the nine were with family members. It is wholesome and it's All American. May it ever be thus.
5. Here in our 35th year, we finally hosted a professional athlete. Caleb Bennett, Dustin's brother, has been to the NFR a half-dozen times competing in bareback riding. He wound up sixth last year in winnings. But the tale doesn't end there. It was Caleb who took that beautiful, perfect 19 1/4" ten pointer with 157 2/8 inches, our eighth best-ever. Are champions born under a lucky star, or what? Not so. Find this You Tube video on Caleb: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PU5F3Z10egw. There is another of him entitled "Do Whatever It Takes." And finally, just after Dustin booked Caleb on his hunt last year, Caleb won the Bareback Riding event here at our San Angelo Rodeo, marking an arena record for the best score ever.
As we've often told first-time hunters with us on our fair-chase, low-fence hunts, that exceptional buck might show up any time, even on the first afternoon. Shad Heiner took it to heart and on the first, balmy afternoon before the moisture arrived, he collected an exceptional buck that would be a keeper for most of our hunters any time during the season. To do him justice, we had to post two different views of this 22" nine pointer, antlers still intact. Interestingly, few damaged antlers were found on any of the nine bucks taken this late in the season.
The next damp morning, Tyler Jensen, Kelly Crozier, and Hank Stevenson all brought good bucks into camp. Interestingly, Kelly's buck showed an old injury to his lower jaw up in the front, causing his lip to hang down noticeably. Could this the be buck we have heard about all season that must throw his head up to swallow corn? Could be.
That night, Weston Crozier got his own First-Ever whitetail plus a javelina, to boot. Now, that mini-swine wasn't all that big, but when our devious camp photographer got the photo, he looked to be as large as any taken all season.
Friday the rain came in earnest. Jake Stevenson admitted his unloaded rifle was leaned into the corner of his blind while he was checking his phone. He had decided the hunt was about done. As on the previous hunt, he might have crumpled his empty water bottle. Maybe. He wasn't sure of the exact time or details, but glancing out the window, an 18" eight was passing by. Jake wouldn't claim the bottle was responsible, but he wouldn't deny it, either. Quickly, Jake gets a bullet out of his pocket and into his gun. Now his potential prize is moving (running?) away, 150 yards out. Jake's only target is the back of the buck's neck. He lets that lone bullet fly. You'll see the result of his amazing shot below.
Not to be outdone in shooting skills, almost the same thing happened to the rodeo cowboy, Caleb Bennett. Sitting in a blind in the rain next to an open sendero underneath a giant power line, Caleb spotted the buck and had no doubts on his credentials. He, too, was moving away. His last check of his range finder before his shot showed 247 yards. Experienced distance shooters simply must know a close approximate range to make adjustments in their sighting. Caleb, too, hit the buck square in the back of the neck. For sure, bucks tagged in such a manner do not have to be trailed any distance whatsoever.
To complete the tally board, Brendon Crozier tagged a 15 3/4" twelve pointer; Dustin Bennett got a 19 1/2" six pointer, both trophies for sure, despite the antler point differences. One of the main goals of the group was to haul venison back to Utah in someone's large cargo van, and they did a mighty fine job filling the thing. No telling how many pounds of venison they hauled. Seven of the nine took their limit of three/each. Two took only one. So the math tells us they harvested 23 does. We mustn't forget Weston Crozier's giant javelina, either.
Dustin intends to stake Utah's claim on this date for next season, too. He did a fine job this time, and we are already looking forward to seeing what happens next year. It will be hard to top this one.
Hunt 12 January 8 - 12
Just when you think you've seen all there is to see in one hunting season, along comes a string of events that no one could have predicted (and few will even believe):
1. A buck was taken with three antlers.
2. A buck, rattled-in with a plastic bottle, was on the ground with one shot from a very excited hunter.
3. One javelina will produce two separate mounts.
4. A shooting tip proved to be super effective.
5. The doe that won the "Heaviest Doe" contest outweighed the buck with the largest antlers.
6. The entire affair was captured on numerous cameras to be edited for a YouTube video.
7. The doe harvest has become so challenging, one hunter was moved to poetry.
Staying over from the previous hunt was Dude Phelan, accompanied by his lovely non-hunting wife, Stephanie. No, Dude didn't find anything to beat the exceptional buck he collected earlier. But his total for his three hunts with us this season was two bucks and ten does, and yes, he re-booked for 2020, to boot. As did all the others.
Bob and Lana Anderson, from Carver, MA, as they have done since 2016, drive the farthest of any of our clients to hunt whitetails, their goal being to take coolers full of venison back home to supplement their diet of lobsters caught by Bob and his traps. After a misplaced shot or two from his .300 mag, Bob's guide, Mike Thomson, a former lieutenant with the highway patrol and super-experienced shooting instructor (both pistols and rifles), got both Bob and Lana dialed-in on the sweet-spot for bullet placement on whitetails. One of his numerous tips, shown in a photo below, reminded his student to squeeze the trigger. The positive result on a doe carcass is shown in another photo.
Matthew O'Kelley from Chickamauga, GA, accompanied as always since 2015 by Joey Vaughn, Trenton, GA once again hosted Dusty Nelson, Chattanooga, TN, and Brandon Johnson, a taxidermist from Eads, TN plus a couple of newcomers, Scott Thomason, Chickamauga and Jacob Bradley, Ringgold, GA. Brandon and Matthew were here, there and everywhere with those video cameras.
Of prime interest to them was the spectacular genius of our skinner, David Gonzales, who, since 1995, has peeled hides from thousands of whitetails. He will have the primary cuts of venison (hams, backstraps, tenders and shoulders) in a five-gallon bucket in about four minutes (when he is not in a hurry.) We have always wanted to film David's incredible work. Now, hopefully, Matthew and Brandon will get'er done. When the YouTube address comes to us, it will be passed along to one and all.
As first-timers are prone to do, both Scott Thomason and Jacob Bradley brought bucks to camp that first night. Both were good ones. Scott's 16 1/2" eight won their group's contest for antler's with the most inches (119 7/8"), but the rascal weighed only 107 lbs. Matthew O'Kelley's doe captured first place in the doe weight contest with 111 pounds. No doubt feminists will celebrate this news.
But it was Jacob Bradley's 15 1/2" ten pointer that first night that got all the attention. He had, it seemed, three antlers - one on the right and two (kind-of) on the left. Check out the photo below, although you would have to see it in person to appreciate the details of the unusual antler(s).
Both Lana Anderson and Brandon Johnson collected 57 and 55 pound javelinas, respectively. But Brandon, who makes his living as a taxidermist, plans two separate mounts for his trophy - a regular shoulder mount using the hide plus yet another, a Euro, using the skull, jaws and teeth. What a clever idea, eh? Just think: taxidermists everywhere can get double the business, and hunters can hang twice the mounts while paying the outfitter for only one trophy. What a deal, eh?. Brandon also collected a 19 1/2" seven pointer that will make a spectacular mount. Check him out below. Many a ten pointer is not nearly so impressive.
But the top story of the hunt (which will rank in the Top Three of the year) will be Matthew O'Kelley and the buck he rattled-in using an empty plastic water bottle. For whatever reason, Matthew asked his guide, Albert Zapata, to not come for him until 11 a.m. Matthew had been watching a smaller buck near the feeder, but with time about up, with his water now long-gone, and with nothing better to do, Matthew crushed-up the bottle to, as instructed, haul his trash out of the blind. The noise attracted a heretofore unseen buck. And he came on the run, seeking the source of that noise, which sounds remarkably like antlers being rattled. Try it yourself sometime, but it must be with those thinner kind of bottles to get the right sound.
Matthew's heart rate immediately spiked to unknown levels as he reached for his gun, still, all the while, crinkling that empty bottle. Finally the buck stopped. Forget the points or width, it was the first buck Matthew had ever rattled-in, and he cared not about the size of those antlers. He touched the trigger and down the old fighter went, lights out.
Finally back at camp, Matthew continued to amaze all who listened to every detail of the adventure. There was no doubt Mr. O'Kelley could have passed any polygraph test ever invented. He was still on an adrenalin-high with goose-bumps up both arms. So we took his photo of that buck with the famous bottle, which would have been impossible to pry out of Matthew's hands anyway. He will probably sleep with it for the next month.
Taking a closer look at those antlers, you will notice that the ten-point rack has only five un-damaged points. So can we therefore conclude this dude was a scrapper, hoping for just one more good fight before the season closes?
Amazingly, Jacob Bradley, sitting in a blind exactly six-tenths of a mile away (as measured on Google Earth), captured this very buck on his camera just prior to his exodus to Matthew's "fight." As we have said for years, rattling bucks is not necessarily the best way to collect the largest buck, but it is the most exciting way to hunt one. Just ask Matthew. When his pulse returns to normal, that is. By Easter.
The eight hunters took home six bucks. Unfortunately, we had to record a DNF. And one hunter didn't find one to suit him, but thankfully he was on our "Trophy Option." Five took three does, one took two does while two collected only one doe despite an all-out effort to put three/each on our tally board. And let's not omit the two javelinas. The first afternoon was mighty windy, but even so, those two bucks were taken. The cold front the next day didn't amount to much, but sadly there was no moisture. It all went to the Dallas area.
No doubt, the doe harvest has increased in difficulty. Reason: the old biddies are simply not being seen. Especially around the corn feeders. Scott Thomason remembered that back home in Georgia, he typically sees 6-8 does all day with nary a buck. Here at Adobe Lodge, it's a flip-flop: up to a dozen bucks each half-day without a doe in sight.
The sad dilemma moved Lana Anderson to poetry:
"T'was another stand of hunting, always searching high and low,
Not a creature was stirring, especially a doe."
Hunt 11 January 2 - 6
Returning veterans dominated on Hunt 11. But for some, their primary goal was to introduce whitetail hunting to their kids and to be a part of their "First-Ever" buck experience. Yep, with our incredible population of bucks, young hunters get to see plenty of antlered bucks during the four days.
Travis Rawe, originally from California but now a Texan, hunted with us way back in 2008. He has since hunted many places including Africa. But our outfit was chosen by him for his son, Jason, to get that first buck.
Similarly, our long-time client-turned-hunting guide, Craig Boehler from upstate New York, had a similar goal for his son-in-law, Tim Adams and Tim's 13-year-old daughter, Angelina. Craig was going to guide them to the goal. But Justin, Craig's son, also got in on the deal, as well. Justin has hunted here numerous times and knows our drill as well as anyone.
Another father/son pair, Scott and Ryan Patterson from Houston, were also on hand, as they have been the past several years. Ryan, now a freshman at Texas Tech, took his first-ever buck here a half-dozen years ago. We were knee-deep in veterans.
Single hunters were Charlie Eifert, Mason, OH who collected our fabled "Buck of the Year" back in 2016 and who also hunts turkeys with us each spring. Dude Phelan, here earlier this season on Hunt 4, and who will be staying over to hunt our next hunt (does Dude have an addiction to Adobe Lodge hunting, or what?) was the ninth hunter on this date. If you have kept track so far, you can count six veterans plus three first-timers, coming because the vets said Adobe Lodge is the place to go.
As mentioned on the previous report, at the kickoff meeting the first afternoon in camp, we remind one and all to not hesitate to take a buck that "melts their butter" even on the first day of the hunt. Justin Boehler and Charlie Eifert did exactly that. Both will tell you they didn't see a better buck for the rest of the four days. So their experience in knowing what to look for paid off. Justin got a super 19 incher with eight points. Charlie took a mighty good nine pointer.
The First-Timers all scored big-time. Angelina, guided by granddad, Craig, claimed a dandy ten pointer for her initiation prize. Jason Rawe, guided by his dad tagged another ten. And Tim Adams, helped by bro.-in-law Justin, collected a super nine pointer. What an introduction to the sport, eh? But they may be a bit spoiled. Most of us whitetail addicts had nowhere near that much luck with our first one, did we?
The low point of the hunt came the second night when Ryan Patterson drew blood but failed to find the buck that night. His guide, Albert Zapata, directed the search party next morning. DNF (did not find) are the most dreaded three letters to appear on our tally board. It was a long night for Ryan. The next-morning's search was not initially successful. But our old "hound dog" and skinner, David Gonzales, finally spotted Ryan's buck. So the story had a happy ending, for which we were all super thankful.
Ryan's dad, Scott had to wait until the tail-end of the event to finally find one he judged to be worthy to wear his tag. The 16 1/4" ten point was certainly worth the wait, as you will see in the photo collection below.
Dude Phelan found himself a 19" eight with exceptional eye guards, which always makes a rack more impressive. Wait till you see them below. Dude, who first hunted with us way back around 1995, knows a good one and will wait until he sees him. But he has set the bar mighty high for himself on this next hunt. This one will be tough to top.
Travis Rawe hunted a buck seen and photoed by Craig Boehler. Surely he would reappear. Surely. But he did not. So goes fair-chase hunting. May it ever be thus.
During the final morning's efforts, Travis saw little or nothing from a blind which normally has "muchos" deer. Not so this time. Snake bit? Maybe. It's always better to be lucky than good. Fortunately, Travis was hunting our special "Trophy Option" price, the best deal going if your sport is hunting top-end fair-chase whitetails.
Summary: nine hunters took eight bucks. All the first-timers scored on the bucks. Doe harvest was mediocre with only thirteen being taken. No critters, no javelinas, no turkeys, no runs, no hits, no errors.
The weather here in early January, as it has been since we started hunting in late October, is incredibly, amazingly stable. Mornings are now cold; afternoons are warm; not much wind; precious few clouds and/or moisture. Deer are now kind of ignoring the corn but are instead chasing the modest amount of green growth which came from rains awhile back. They haven't seen anything this color since back in early July.
Re-bookings for 2020 filled the date for next year. It just don't get no better than that.
Hunt 10 December 27 - 31
On this hunt between the holidays, we hosted our largest number of guests for the season. We counted eight hunters plus four non-hunters. Of the hunters, three were first-timers with us. The rest had all been here on this same date a year ago, so it was like a reunion of sorts. Right from the git-go, you knew it was going to be a fun time.
Weather was super mild that first afternoon. Our standard admonition to all Adobe Lodge rookies is to "wait till you see one that melts your butter." Captain Vince Pierleoni, who runs charter boats in Lake Ontario and who has plenty of deer hunting experience up north in the cold country of New York and Canada, found him that very first afternoon. And what a good one he was - a 21 1/4" nine pointer. A broken eye guard sadly cost him some inches and a place in our Top Ten list.
The next morning about daylight, a front moved through the area bringing brief heavy rain, hail and gusty winds. Despite the weather conditions, hunters reported decent deer movement, and several does were collected. Capt. Vince also got his first-ever javelina. The half-inch of rain will really help the wheat and winter plants which germinated a month ago but were needing some moisture. Will the deer now chase green plants instead of coming to our corn feeders? Having nothing green to eat since back in July, that is their main goal just now.
Pete Mousseau, who has become a frequent hunter the past few years, tried to bring his daughter, Amber, a year ago on this date to take her first-ever buck. Weather back home in Michigan kept planes on the ground, so we agreed to postpone the big event for an entire year. Sure enough, this time they made it. With Pete as her spotter, Amber got a great doe as a dress rehearsal. A couple of days later, she hit the jackpot with a 17" ten pointer. How many of us can claim such a specimen for our first-ever buck? Well done, Amber.
Brian Ormsby, Petersburg, PA was here a year ago with his daughter, Madisyn. Back then, it was Madisyn who collected a 20-inch whopper while Brian went home empty. This year, it was dad's turn to score. Boy, did he ever!!! Brian's buck wasn't all that wide - only 15 1/2". But he sported the longest set of G-1s or eyeguard points we have measured in a while. Wait till you see them below. Eight-plus inches. It takes two photos of Brian's beauty to do him justice. When taped, he actually showed more total inches than did that wide one taken by Capt. Vince. So it's not always width that makes one score. It is the total inches.
Nick Glosser, who works with Vince on the charter boats, took our Home Camp Buck of the Year last season. Naturally, Nick wanted to repeat. But along the way, he managed to collect both a bobcat and a fox. Late in the hunt and with the clock ticking, Nick tagged a mighty handsome buck.
Don Trimer, a very experienced whitetail hunter, came with the Ormsby's. He, too, looked all them over carefully before finally getting tall 16 1/2" eight pointer.
And yet another hunter, Chris Dexter, passed on many bucks before selecting another tall eight point. The focus for Chris, however, was his son, Josh. On the final morning, the one they'd been looking for showed up behind the protective fence which surrounds the corn feeder and prevents depredation by livestock. Wisely, wisely, Chris cautioned young Josh to pass on the shot because that bullet might hit the wire and be deflected. Worse case scenario: a wounded buck. We always appreciate hunters who have such an attitude. True sportsmen. That's what they are.
What was noteworthy about this hunt was the size of the does taken. Of the 15 taken by the eight hunters, nine of them exceeded 100 lbs. The first doe taken by Capt. Vince weighed 132 lbs., the heaviest of the entire season so far. As is to be expected now that the rut is mostly behind us, buck weights are 20 - 30 pounds lighter than what they were back in early November.
The eight hunters tagged six bucks, two of which were in the 130s. A bobcat, a fox, and a javelina also made our photo album. After that storm, the weather turned decent during the afternoon with temperatures in the 50s. But mornings now are mighty chilly, down in the low 20s. Thankfully, there has not been much wind. Four more hunts are scheduled for January. Check back often to learn important Adobe Lodge news.
Hunt 9 December 16 - 20
Our final hunt before the Christmas break found seven hunters in camp plus a couple of non-hunters, one of whom, Theresa Todd, invited three of her all-time best customers as her guests. It was a first for all of us and things turned out mighty well, indeed. The three newcomers were Don DiPietro, Flowery Branch, GA, Mark Chapman, Ona, WV and Tim Hodges, Cleveland, MS. Theresa lives in Richmond, TX, down near Houston.
All the rest in camp were multi-year veterans, the most senior of which was John Newsome from Shumway, IL and his faithful employee, Myron Woomer. Both have been here countless times since back in the mid-1990s, even as recently as back on Hunt A as this 2019 season kicked-off in October.
The other non-hunter was John Sanders who brought son, Jack, from Greenville, SC. Jack, now 20 years old, first hunted here with his dad as a twelve year old. John hopes to find a date next year to once again bring Jack's brother, Mack, who is still in high school.
The single hunter, Dan Mink from Stewartstown, PA leaves his trunk-full of hunting gear in our barn to save the airplane luggage hassle since he comes both fall and spring for deer and turkey. Two more hunters in John Newsome's party had cancelled so we simply played the team of seven. They did mighty good.
The three newcomers all had much experience hunting whitetails east of the Mississippi, but on their first look at our West Texas deer, they marveled at the sheer numbers of bucks they were seeing. Tim Hodges lead the list by tabulating 24 different bucks one afternoon. Don and Mark were similarly impressed. But all played the waiting game and were content to continue to look for a "butter-melter." Tim found him on the second afternoon but missed the shot and was almost sick with regret for a whole day. Next morning, Mark tagged an 18" eight pointer. Poor Tim saw the one he had missed but had no decent shot.
That night Don DiPietro brought in his ten pointer. Just as soon as that buck was processed, Don and Mark loaded their two bucks and three does and left camp just before supper was put on the table. Poor guys missed one heck of a meal. But Theresa got text messages all the next day about what a great time they had. For sure, they were talking about how to re-book this date for 2020.
The night they left was a busy one in the skinning shed. After Don's buck, three more were photoed, processed, wrapped and frozen by our World Champion team. Jack Sanders got himself a handsome 18" eight pointer. Myron Woomer tagged a 17 1/2" seven, and John Newsome found a heavy-horned nine pointer.
John and Myron then left the next day at noon leaving only Dan Mink and Tim to hunt bucks. Jack Sanders tried to find a javelina but had no luck. Those swine-like critters are most difficult to locate when you really want one. A javelina hunt is an opportunistic quest if there ever was one. They are impossible to pattern.
The third morning, Tim Hodges collected an 18 1/2 inch ten pointer to go along with the does he had been taking along the way. When he left camp before daylight the final morning, Tim was the only hunter in the entire group to have collected three does.
Meanwhile, our old buddy, Dan Mink got skunked almost every outing. While others were seeing oodles of bucks, poor Dan would see only three or four small ones. Wisely, Dan had chosen to hunt under our unique "Trophy Option" plan since his quest is always something extraordinary, maybe a "Top-Five" candidate. Certainly he never saw the one he judged to be worth the trophy fee. But he will continue again next year because like the others, he re-booked before leaving camp.
Theresa Todd, the non-hunter spent her time in the lodge catching up with work on her computer. Morning and night, when the lodge feeder would dispense corn, Theresa collected some mighty impressive videos showing upwards of twenty deer, a couple of which were definitely top-enders. If only your no-skill webmaster could get Theresa's pictures on this site.
Weather-wise, our troops endured the coldest mornings of the season with 18 and 16 degrees just after daylight. The insulation in the "Barndominium" had to be increased, too, just like the barn door was repaired after the horse escaped. Maybe we will have no more frozen pipes over there. Afternoons were sunny but a bit chilly on the shady side of the lodge. The recent moisture has brought along a smattering of miniscule green here and there which really draws the deer's attention. For the first time all season long, we are beginning to see deer in the wheat fields which surround the lodge. No doubt, "green" is preferable to "corn" just now.
With the early departure of some of the hunters together with a lack of interest in taking does by others, there were plenty of blank spots on the tally board. Six of the seven took bucks. Mr. Newsome was granted permission to take a 2nd buck in thanks for his fifty-plus trips to hunt with us, often accompanied by a lodge-full of guests he had paid for. Only eight does were logged onto the record book.
Our next hunt, # 10, will conclude December 31, so that report won't be posted until next year, now less than ten days away.
Hunt 8 December 10 - 14
You talk about a diverse group of hunters. From young to old, from experienced veteran to first-time rookie, from rifle to muzzle loader - we had almost any kind of hunter you might want on # 8. They got a lot done too, as you will see. We had two parties of three and a couple of single hunters. Plus, Bobbie Widmyer and Aeaw McNamara were here as non-hunting companions with their husbands.
Rob McNamara first hunted with us back in 2014. Since then, he's been here several times, but his main goal this year was to introduce his son, Gage, to the sport of hunting whitetails. Gage, still in high school and having to abide by their rules, arrived here too late to participate in our kickoff meeting. But he pulled off a magnificent dress rehersal the next day by taking two does to get himself dialed-in to deal with that hunter's devil - Buck Fever. With Rob as his coach/guide/spotter in charge of quality evaluation, next day of the hunt the father/son pair found a dandy 17 1/2" nine pointer which Gage put down with one well-placed bullet. It is fair to say that the First-Ever buck for most of us was no match for the beauty taken by Gage.
Sadly, neither Rob nor his other, more experienced son, Zach, ever found the keeper they sought. But admittedly, both were after a top-end whitetail. That's the bad news. The good news is that both were hunting our Trophy Option and saved plenty of money by doing so.
We are endebted to Aeaw, Rob's beautiful wife, for furnishing us with a couple of photos she collected while accompanying the hunting party. A great sunset (sunrise?) and a mighty pretty buck, which shows you the kind Rob was seeing on his adventures.
The other party of three all collected mighty good bucks, their limit of three does, and some javelinas to boot. Scott Murdoff, Plano, TX here for the past few years now, was the first to tag out. Last year, he brought along Jack Jones from Flowood, MS who, in turn, similarly this year brought along Russ Ogburn from Madison, MS. (Please note: Word-of-Mouth advertising is our best friend.) Both Jack and Russ collected fine ten-pointers. Plus, Russ got himself a pair of javelinas while Jack took a single javelina. Both big ones weighed exactly the same - 58 pounds. They will make excellent Euro mounts for Russ and Jack.
Warren Widmyer, Orange, VA first hunted with us way back in 1999 when in that first year, he collected our fabled "Buck of the Year" with a spectacular 22 1/4" twelve pointer with 157 inches. This year, Warren shot a 19" eight point buck and a doe even before his feeder went off that morning. Warren called his guide, Tony Kieffer, who wasn't all that far away. Tony says that as they were loading the pair of whitetails, the feeder went off. Incredibly, here came more deer even with Tony's truck on sight. Tony put Warren back into the blind where he was able to take another doe. Unbelievable. Does such behavior suggest the deer are mighty hungry? It would seem certainly so, wouldn't it?
Admittedly, Warren is equally keen on hunting squirrels as whitetails. He's been here most every year since 1999, but we've never been able to get him on one of the black squirrels that are seen occasionally along our river. After taking that broken-up 19" eight point on the third day, Warren hunted a feeder with plenty of turkey sign. Yep, he got one and his Christmas meal. But nope, nary a squirrel showed up. The word must be out about Warren and his predilection for that species.
Regular readers of this website are probably familiar with Bill Wurfel from Robbinsville, NJ who hunted the McManus Camp a week ago to take two mighty fine bucks. And those with keen memories will recall that Bill's weapon of choice is always his beloved muzzle loader. Just to be sure you understand his devotion to that smoke pole, scroll down to see Bill's tattoo of "Old Betsy" on his right forearm.
Without delving too deeply into the regulations regarding airline travel with muzzleloader ammunition, the facts are these: after expending two bullets last week at the McManus Camp on the two bucks, poor Bill arrived at our Home Camp with only two bullets for his gun. Understandably, he was allowed a pass on the obligatory sighting-in on our gun range when he arrived in camp.
The second night of the hunt, Mr. Wurfel cast one of his two bullets at a fox, 100 yards-plus away. Yes, he got him. But now, he was down to his last, and final bullet. On the second night, just as shooting light was fading away, Bill found a buck he liked and touched the trigger on that lone missle. Abundant smoke and the forest of broom weeds obscurred his view. When guide Tony Kieffer arrived on the scene, the viewing had improved hardly any. He located the buck not by sight nor by blood-trailing him in all that clutter. He used his ears. Luckily, he was able to hear the "death-rattle" of the tall 16 1/2" eight pointer. Thank goodness for the lack of wind that evening.
So older hunters did well. First-timers did well. Returning hunters did well. Top trophy hunters (Rob and Zach) never found that special buck, but late in the hunt, those already tagged out were seeing racks larger than what they had taken. Such is hunting. May it ever be thus.
Final stats show these numbers: six of eight took bucks. Fifteen does were taken. Three javelinas and one fox bit the dust. Five of the eight got three does; three took no does. The night before the hunt began, our area got a good rain, the first since way back in June. Our wheat, planted just before Thanksgiving, is now coming up and will make grazing for the deer in another couple of weeks. Winter grass and weeds will also benefit. Much for which to be thankful. Including the fact that all the hunters on # 8 rebooked for 2020.
Hunt 7 December 5 - 9
Hunt 7 began with a party of five and three singles. About half way through the event, a ninth hunter was added to the group, as will be discussed shortly.
The single hunters had all been here before. Mike Kramer, Lake Villa, IL has hunted here both for spring turkeys and for deer since way back in 1998. H.B. Lantz, Troy, VA was on his 20th deer hunt with us, beginning in 2004. So the math tells us he has come more than once a year several times, and will do so again when we'll see him back here in January. Larche Watters, Benton, LA, who was first here in 2010 and has been back several times since, made up for lost time by taking two bucks on this date.
The party of five was headed by James Brogan, Athens, WV who, along with son-in-law Guy Pavleck from Frisco, TX first visited as spring turkey hunters several years ago. Their deer hunt here a year ago convinced Brogan to bring others from back home, one of whom, Mike Dorsey, has since relocated to Rhode Island, a state that rarely sends hunters our way. The others from WV were Ron Musick and James Bennett. Coming as an observer was Niam Pavleck, Guy's daughter, who played hooky from her fourth grade class to sample Grandpa Brogan's favorite pastime. Maybe she might take a shine to sport, dad and Grandpa wondered/hoped?
All throughout the four days, the weather was mostly mild with only a little bit of wind. Early in the hunt, a familiar refrain was heard: "Boy, I saw a good one tonight I might should have taken." The doe harvest was regular and steady. It wasn't until the second night that a buck came in, taken by Ron Musick, and a good one he was - an 18" thirteen pointer. That was the good news. A possible DNF on another buck was the bad. Sadly, the next morning, the search party found blood in the forest of broom weeds for 400 yards, but no carcass. Such an event always pours cold water on the spirit of the camp. But all at the same time, Mike Dorsey collected his buck to go along with his three does, the first of the group to tag out. At the half-way point, the tally board showed two bucks, a DNF, and 15 does. You might say they were being choosy.
That night, our ninth hunter came to be. It was suggested that the "observer" Niam might take a doe. She did much better than that. Her "First-Ever" deer was a tall eight pointer, almost 16 inches wide. To say Grandpa Brogan and dad Guy were elated was the understatement of the hunt. If you had a quarter for every photo taken of Niam that night, you could buy a case of premium beer. While all that revelry was going on, Mike Kramer brought in a pair of javelinas at 53 and 27 pounds.
The last full day was a busy one with Mike Kramer (11 points) and Larche Watters (9 points) collecting bucks that were 17 inches wide. Five of the hunters were now "doe'd-out.)
The final night, as things seem to happen when the cook is getting the rib eye steaks ready, four bucks showed up in our photo studio before their last, long ride to the skinning shed. Guy Pavleck (17" 11) and Brogan (16 1/4" 8) tagged bucks, as did H.B. Lantz with his 17" eight. But the buck of the night was that second buck taken by Larche Watters. That 17 3/4" nine pointer was a real keeper and the heaviest buck taken on the hunt. Super-heavy bucks are now history, this far into the rut.
The tally board had but few blank spots with nine bucks, 22 does, and a pair of javelinas. Six of the hunters collected three does, two got two, and one got zero. Don't forget to log that DNF, as well. The best news came when all re-booked for 2020 before clocking out of camp. The consistent story from one and all: many, many bucks are being seen. H.B. Lantz tabulated over 50 different bucks over the four days. And he has videos on his phone to make you a believer. Yes, the rut may be winding down, but the crew at the skinning shed watched a buck running a doe for several minutes out in the wheat field next to the lodge. Remember Yogi's admonition: it ain't over till it's over. Wise advice.
The eternal question at Adobe Lodge is this: when are you looking at the largest buck you will see during your stay?
Hunt 6 November 30 - December 4
Preliminary reports from several credentialed biologists back before the season predicted an "above average" year, but not much more. We are almost to our half-way point, and already it seems fair to lay claim to a GREAT season here at Adobe Lodge.
Why, you ask? Back on Hunt # 2, Jacqui Hunter collected a buck that ties the # 4 in our All Time Best list. Here on Hunt 6, Ken Austad's buck moves into the slot just below her with a 160 3/8" whopper. Want more proof? Cheryl Moon on this Hunt 6 collected a picture-perfect 20 3/4" ten pointer that taped 147+ inches, joining eight other bucks this year which exceed the best taken a year ago at our Home Camp. So it's fair to say that some of those early predictions were way-too conservative. Maybe giant whitetails have learned to hide their antlers from helicopters and census takers?
All but two hunters on this date were here together on an earlier date a year ago. Those six wanted to move to this after-Thanksgiving date. Interestingly, they were a party of three, a party of two, and a party of one, all of whom came together a year ago as certified hunting amigos. A father/son pair, formerly here back in 2017, joined-in enthusiastically, and before the hunt even concluded, they all re-booked for 2020 and will be bringing a couple of others, as well.
The single hunter, Raymond Jordan from North Carrollton, MS, was back for his second year. He collected the hunt's first buck, a 17" ten, plus three does. Indeed, Raymond wasted no time and was tagged out across the board by noon, Sunday, only a quarter-way into the event.
Stephen and Cheryl Moon, from Freeland, MI plus their cousin, Pete Mousseau, Macomb, MI made-up the party of three. Remember Pete's name: he will be returning in three weeks as a non-hunter as he accompanies his daughter, Amber, on her first-ever buck hunt. Stephen was the second to tag a buck, a 15 1/2" nine pointer on Sunday night. Next morning, Cheryl got her whopper. Similar to Jacqui Hunter earlier, it was impossible to get a photo of Cheryl without a giant, huge, beautiful smile spread across her attractive face. "Them good looking bucks have that effect on them good looking girls."
Pete Mousseau just never found the one he was looking for, which can happen on low-fence, fair-chase hunts. That's the real benefit of our Trophy Option price. If you don't see him, you have saved plenty of money. Pete did, indeed, collect his quota of three does.
Californians Peter Ruseski and Ken Austad first hunted here way back in 1996. They returned annually after that long ago visit. But somehow neither of them were seen until a few seasons ago when Peter showed up driving a Porsche, of all things, with doe hunting on his mind. Ken was left back home in San Diego for the next few years to care for an ailing parent. But last year, he returned to join Peter in that doe harvest quest. Both were interested in meat, not antlers.
As aside here, when Peter managed to somehow get five boned-out does into that little sports Porsche, he should have qualified for some kind of record. How many of those cars have ever been loaded down with that much deer meat? No doubt, his is the only one.
Once again, Ken was only in quest of does. Hunting our "Trophy Option" plan, he vowed to forego any buck unless he found a true monster. Boy, did he ever do just that. We had to show two photos of him below just so you can see how truly tall that rack is. The only such height ever seen here was back in 1991 when Donald Harris from Cary, MS took a 19 1/4" 15 pointer that was similarly tall. He taped just shy of 150. Ken's 160 class buck had main beams at 26 and 25.75", the longest ever measured in our camp, if memory serves. Peter Ruseski held true to his goal. He turned down one "almost" as good as Ken's, he said, preferring to take another doe instead. For sure, Peter, a former naval aviator, can target them correctly. Shown below are two of his shots, right smack into that sweet spot on the shoulder.
Veteran hunters live for the highs but must endure and suffer the lows. We've all "been there and done that." And so it was for both Kevin Yeater, Snellville, GA and his son, Ben, who lives in Monroe. As said earlier, they were here back in 2017 but had a conflict for the following season. Now here they were to join the lively group which had formed back in 2018. Kevin and Ben patiently waited for a butter-melter. Seeing Cheryl's and Ken's outstanding trophies was sufficient motivation. But, as things happen in our world of hunting whitetails, both men lost bucks which could not be found despite exceptional efforts by their guide, Bill Scott, a retired game warden from Illinois, plus others, as well. Father and son had to be logged-in as DNFs on their bucks. A real, sho'nuff bummer, that's what it is. But their spirit is strong. Both will return next fall.
Here, then, is the summary: eight hunters tagged four bucks. There were those two DNF bucks. Two hunters failed to take a buck. Five hunters took three does, one took two does, two took only one doe. Critters, javelinas, and turkeys did not appear on our tally board. Oh, one more thing. The weather was perfect: 35-75 and no wind.
Hunt 5 November 23 - 27
Up until now anyway, what bad weather we have had so far this fall has been between our hunt dates. And so it was on Hunt 5. The mild days all during the hunt dates lasted until the very last morning when the temperature dropped with a bit of rain falling. By then, the Fat Lady had begun to sing. Hunters found 30s in the morning and almost 80s in the afternoon. Thankfully, there was not an abundance of wind. Of note: this hunt overlapped the date of the new moon.
Of the eight hunters booked on # 5, all but one had been here numerous times. Steve Thompson, the newcomer, and a very experienced hunter, joined South Carolinians Lyle Olson and Ed McFarland with 15-18 Adobe Lodge trips under their camo belts. Both Steve and Lyle chose to hunt under our unique "Trophy Option." Neither found that special buck he was looking for, but that will happen when your goal is something extraordinary.
Georgia hunters, Brad Milner and wife, Catharine (Cat) Cato have relocated to the mountains of North Carolina. There's no telling how many times Brad has been here, both for deer and spring turkey. Back in 2014, he introduced Cat to hunting and now she is addicted, as well. Wait until you see the 19" ten-pointer 140 class buck below collected by Cat. Brad got himself a good 19 incher, too, that had nine points. Brad chose the Trophy Option; Cat hunted under the regular price.
Frank Kollar, now living in Colorado and his son, Scott, presently from Austin, but soon to be moving to Dallas, both chose the Trophy Option, vowing to harvest only does unless something melted either's butter. Scott never found him, but Frank did. And when you see his photo below, you'll see why. Frank's buck, a 17" nine pointer, was the heaviest of the hunt at 148 pounds. This far into the rut and with a dry fall staring us in the face, the 150 pound-plus bucks will be few and far between from now on.
The friendship between Jim Davis, from St. Louis Park, MN and Ed McFarland, Anderson, SC goes way, way back. Ed introduced us to Jim a few years ago. Ed collected his buck on the second night of the hunt, a dandy ten pointer that was 17 1/2" wide. Jim held out looking for something to rival Ed's buck. But he just couldn't find him. It was time to take action.
Finally, late in the hunt, Jim, along with his guide, Charles Westbrook, spotted a "last-minute" candidate. Unfortunately, he was plenty far out there. Jim found a comfortable rest and touched one off. The buck disappeared in the waist-high broom weeds which have infested all of West Texas this fall. Did he go down? If he was hit, conventional wisdom says it's best to let him bleed awhile. So while Charles went to pick up his other hunter, Steve Thompson, Jim kept his eye on the far-away location where the buck had been. Anyone who's been there and done that knows how difficult it is to locate a distant spot once you are actually "over yonder."
Finally arriving on the scene of the crime, Charles methodically worked the blood trail, a time consuming and laborious task. When the story finally came to an end, Jim's buck hadn't traveled more than 25 yards. Without that maze of broom weeds, the search party could have seen him easily. It was later determined that Jim's shot was 240 yards. Well done, Jim. Very well done.
Seems like each Adobe Lodge hunt has something unique and special. Lyle Olson provided us all with a delicacy rarely found here in the wilds of West Texas. Recently, Lyle collected an alligator back home in South Carolina that taped 12' 8", less than a foot shy of the state record. Lyle treated all in camp to several samples of alligator meats, summer sausages and other delights harvested from that monster. Best of all was his account of the catch. Lyle and his two amigos worked the gator seven hours to finally get him alongside of the boat to ensnare him in a loop before the execution by gun as dictated by the game laws of that state. The adventure was a wild one. To give you an idea of Lyle's feat, of the 1200 available alligator permits drawn in SC, only about 300 gators are finally taken.
We are glad our odds on whitetails are a bit better. Here is what we got done on this hunt: Of the five Trophy Option hunters, two found bucks they liked; three did not. All three of the regular hunters took bucks. Twenty-one does were tabulated with one hunter taking zero females while another took only two. Six collected the limit of three does. No critters were taken.
All eight slots on this hunt date are now taken for 2020, but three slots have opened on the previous date, Hunt 4. See details on the "Deer Dates - 2020" page, left menu.
Hunt 4 November 18 - 22
For the first 3 1/2 days of Hunt 4, the weather was plenty mild - in the 30s at daylight going up to almost hot a couple of times. One day saw a bit of wind, and only one brief shower consisted of a few drops here and there. Deer movement ran from very active to not-so-active. On the final morning, a cold front moved through just after daylight. Sure enough, two bucks and a doe arrived back at camp. Trying to predict deer movement by studying weather is a futile effort.
Both guides and hunters affirm that the rut is most definitely here. But like the weather, it runs hot and cold from day to day. The singer John Denver must have been a deer hunter when he sang about some days being diamonds, some being stones.
Six of the seven hunters on hand for Hunt 4 were multi-year veterans. Only two of the bunch came as a pair, the rest being singles. Three Floridians drove here all by themselves (maybe one flew part of the way), two drove from Alabama, the lone rookie drove in from Nevada, but only one arrived by plane at our local airport from New Jersey. Are we now properly politically correct from all this diversity?
To make things even more complicated, a couple of my old and dear friends from up Ft. Worth way joined us for the first day. If you had all the quail taken by Ron Norman, Smiley Irvin and me on our collective quail hunts back 30-40 years ago, you could feed the entire Dallas Cowboy organization, and another couple of teams, as well. These cherished amigos wanted to see what I'm up to these days, now that quail numbers have dwindled to un-huntable numbers. The stories and laughter during their stay were endless.
Adding to the group at the kickoff meeting was my associate, Beaver McManus who dropped by to see three of his former hunters, Lee Wilson, Matt Shubert, and Dave Hitchner. So that first day or so was a busy and exceptionally fun time, as is the norm around the old camp. It only got better each minute.
Tom Peterson, accompanied by his non-hunting wife, Diane, and who has hunted on every continent around the world, was back for his third hunt with us. Unfortunately, Tom did not see the buck he wanted. But he did collect the largest female bobcat ever taken by an Adobe Lodge hunter. That obese hussy weighed, get this, 32 lbs. With another nearby whitetail hunt in our area set to begin, Tom had to forego the last day of his stay with us. But he re-booked again for 2020. Having gifted that beautiful cat to us, he will get to see her mounted on our lodge wall when he returns next fall.
Taking bucks early in the hunt were Dave Hitchner, Bridgeton, NJ who collected a good 18 1/2" nine point. That night, Dude Phelan, Ocala, FL and Lee Wilson, Gulf Shores, AL tagged ten point bucks. Dude's buck was mighty tall; Lee's buck was mighty old and gnarly.
Deer movement slowed a bit, but Ken Carter, Orange Beach, AL got himself a 130 class eight, 20 1/4" wide. Nothing like a Big Eight, that's for sure. But the middle part of the hunt found slower deer movement. Any ideas, anyone?
On that final morning with the cold north wind blowing, Matt Shubert, Titusville, FL, who has been one of Adobe Lodge's most faithful hunters at both camps for more than a dozen years got himself a good eight point. John McIntosh, Sparks, NV, who was on his first Adobe Lodge adventure, took a 21 1/2" wide nine point. John's buck was his second-ever whitetail. No telling how many Matt has collected over the years. Both drove here, of course - one from the east, one from the west. See there, the diversity continues. The Politically Correct Police can't get us yet.
Despite our admonitions and pleadings, the doe harvest was not close to what we needed. Only 15 were taken by the 7 hunters. We had hoped for almost 21. Six of the seven got bucks, so that's good. Four of the seven re-booked for 2020. The open slots on this date will first be offered to those on our waiting list. Openings, if any, will be posted later on the "Deer Dates" page on this website.
Hunt 3 November 13-17
Well, the string had to come to an end sometime. So far this season, the next hunt produced a buck larger than any buck taken on the previous hunt. Although there were several dandies taken on Hunt 3, none could match Jacqui Hunter's beauty from back on Hunt 2. But there were a couple of unusual dudes taken, unlikely to be matched anytime soon. Read on.
Back for the 2nd year in a row, we had a group of friends from the Canonsburg area of Pennsylvania, a few miles south of Pittsburg in the southwestern parts of the state. Six of the guys were here a year ago. Two new names, at least to us, were added this year. The titular leader is Gerry O'Hare, accompanied once again by Dan Papak, Brian King, John Crumrine, Zach Airhart, and Max O'Hare. The newcomers were Scott Hareza and John Pleskovick.
Interestingly, Scott was the first to put his tag on a buck; John was next-to-last to do so. Scott even succeeded in taking a 2nd buck while John, 88 years-old, and as hard-of-hearing as is your friendly webmaster, was mighty choosy in his buck selection. In fact, when John finally collected his 19" eight point, he told his guide, Dick Irons, that they could finally be friends again.
That second buck of Scott's has a most unusual configuration to this antlers, as you will see below. After an absence from hunting for many years, Scott's goal, he confided to Gerry, was to take a drop-tine buck, . He almost did it. Or not, depending on your classification of a "drop-tine." Judge for yourself if the unusual appendage meets the definition of a drop. No doubt, everyone will see it differently. But there is little doubt a similar buck will not be taken later on during the season. Scott got himself "one of a kind."
Just after Scott took that first buck, Brian King got his, but he either misjudged or got mixed up with another - a not-so-unusual occurrence here with our plethora of bucks. Especially this year when mistakes are easy to make.
The next morning, John Crumrine and Dan Papak got two different kinds. John's 18" ten was tall; Dan's 17" nine looked flatter. Despite the dissimilar racks, both were mighty handsome.
Zach Airhart got himself a good 16" eight on the second morning. The doe harvest moved along steadily with 3-4 finding their way to the skinning shed each half-day.
By Saturday, there were three buck hunters yet to tag out, but the attention of the entire group turned to a most unusual sport: shooting aluminum cans into the air to be shot-at by a three-barreled shotgun. The propellant inside the weapon used to launch the cans was a blank .223 shell. If only one can was muzzle-loaded, the travel distance was well over a hundred yards, easily over the top of our hundred-yard target on our gun range out behind the lodge. Two cans didn't go so far, but several of the shooters managed to draw liquid out of both containers before they returned to Mother Earth. The weather was sunny, mild and perfect for such shenanigans.
That last night of the hunt, John Pleskovick finally found one that suited him. Max O'Hare, who had a mighty sore shoulder from launching all those cans with that kicking-mule weapon, got a buck with antlers that appeared at first glance to have double G-1s or eyeguards. He's a good'un, for sure.
The only hunter who failed to collect a buck, Gerry O'Hare, had photos of candidates he had seen along the way that were equal to any of the bucks taken. Unfortunately, the buck that was clearly larger than all the rest, was missing his right main beam along-about the half-way point. No telling how large he had been originally.
Once again, the entire group voted to return in 2020, following the same decision of those on the earlier hunts. Very encouraging. 100% repeat business so far for next year. And it's easy to see why when the success rate on bucks and does has been so impressive. These eight hunters took eight bucks, but remember one got two while one got zip. They took home coolers and coolers of frozen venison off the 18 does and eight bucks. Unfortunately, there were three DNFs from lost/unrecoverable does. Oh, almost forgot: Zach Airhart got himself a big javelina, too, the only non-deer taken.
Dan Papak and Max O'Hare somehow got the job of pulling their loaded-down cargo van trailer back home to Canonsburg, while the rest of them drove the rental unit back to Dallas for the flight back home. Thankfully, the weather on departure day was blue-bird beautiful.
Hunt 2 November 8-12
All this should have been posted a couple of days ago. But when I started on the project, a belly ache nagged at me for a few hours. Not being prone to such problems, I finally gave up and went to a Doc-in-the-Box. Several hours later and after many tests, surgery to remove my gall bladder was scheduled for the next day. Thank God the hospital staff and Dr. Thomas got me out of there after the 2nd night. Here I am back where I left off.
Hunt 2 was our largest group of the year. What a spread-out bunch, literally arriving from border to border and coast to coast. Most all, save the two rookies who accompanied veterans, had been here before. Coming from the Montrose area of Pennsylvania were Bruce Legg, Greg Maxey, Will Tripp and Ron Brown, all of whom can trace their first hunt (of 6-8 total trips) with us back to the early 2000s. Actually, nowadays, Will and Greg live mostly in Florida. Brian Baker, nephew of David, an original member of the group,now deceased, was the only first-timer in the bunch. Will's daughter, Jacqui, here for a 2nd time, collected a monster of a buck that will rank near the top of our All-Time Best list.
For the fourth year in a row, Craig Nowell from southern Louisiana, teamed up with Craig and Marie Boehler from Mayfield, NY. Craig Boehler, who has been coming here a decade or more, has morphed into a guide for Marie and the other Craig.
Finally, Cliff Milner, Charlotte, NC, who hunted turkeys with us a few years ago, brought his son, Carson, who now lives in San Francisco. Both were on their first deer hunt here at Adobe Lodge.
With ten hunters in camp, and with the limit being a buck and three does, and with eight half-day hunts on the four-day schedule, mathematically we needed five deer each morning and another five that afternoon to collect all 40 whitetails. Things would be mighty busy in our skinning shed.
The first couple of days found beautiful fall Texas weather. That first afternoon, Bruce Legg put his tag on a 19 1/2" nine pointer. A great start to a super hunt.
Next morning, Brian Baker got himself an 18" eight while Carson Milner collected a 16" ten. But dad, Cliff, moved into the season's lead by almost ten inches with a super-heavy horned 19 1/2" 15 pointer. The dude taped 156 5/8." The photo below doesn't quite capture the sheer mass of those antlers. That afternoon, with no wind or clouds, it was 85 degrees, hardly deer hunting weather, but several does were taken anyway.
Tee-shirt weather continued on Sunday with Greg Maxey getting a high-horned 15" eight point and Craig Nowell finding an 18" ten pointer he liked. That afternoon, with several being tagged-out or mostly so, many chose to hang out at camp to watch NFL football. But Jacqui found better things to do. She put down one monster of a whitetail sporting 24" main-beams, the longest we've seen in years. The ten tines on the 18 1/4" rack were plenty long, too, making a total of 162 3/8 inches. To give you an idea of Jacqui's accomplishment, her score ties the fourth-best-ever, taken by Bill Knapp (The Legend of Adobe Lodge), back in 2006. So much for the adage of poor hunting during a full moon, eh? Oh, wait. That event would not occur for two more days.
But did the approaching cold front affect the deer movement? Going into the final three half-day hunts, we lacked three bucks and 15 does to fill the tally board. That front hit mid-morning on Monday with much, much wind and a slight amount of moisture. Nevertheless, Will Tripp finally found the one he had been looking for - a 21 5/8" ten pointer. No bucks were taken that afternoon with the weather getting ever-more grim. Even Craig Boehler, who has a lifetime of experience driving in upstate NY, complained about the icy conditions.
The final morning, as the temperature hovered in the low 20s, Marie Boehler was the final hunter to get her name on the tally board, leaving only one blank slot in the buck column. Having seen several extra-ordinary bucks taken earlier on the hunt, Marie was a bit disappointed with her fifteen-incher. But the rascal sported seventeen - count'em - seventeen points. We all thought that Marie's handsome buck was one heck of a trophy. It's mighty rare, rare-indeed, when a buck has more points than he does inches-in-width. So apparently, weather, at least on this hunt, played no role in the success of the group when our camp thermometer went from almost hot to mighty cold.
Only one of the ten failed to find a buck, but thankfully, he was hunting our unique "Trophy Option," a good choice for those who are only after super-sized bucks. Nineteen does were counted on our summary sheet, plus two DNFs (did not find). No critters were taken, but the good news was that all the Montrose, PA hunters re-booked for next year, as did Marie Boehler plus Craig Nowell. So the hunt in 2020 is once again full. Cliff Milner wants to find a date where he can bring his other two sons, so the Milners, too, will be returning sometime.
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.