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Hunt 14 January 23 - 27
Incredibly, our final hunt of 2018 was the most productive of the entire season. Who could have guessed such a thing would happen? Nine hunters harvested nine bucks and averaged three does/each. Plus a couple of javelinas, as well. Plus eight spikes. Our skinning shed was one busy place.
Of the nine in camp, five were veteran Adobe Lodge hunters while two of the vets brought along companions for us to meet for the first time. Two more on the list were also brand-new to us. And they came from Utah, a state we rarely see listed on our tally board.
Veterans included three amigos back for the third year in a row - Victor Emovi, San Mateo, CA; Robert Mugavero, Staten Island, NY; and Phil Roman, Huntersville, NC. How in the world, you might ask, can they even know each other, coming from such widely scatters areas? Easy. All are originally from New York City, a fact quickly detected when you hear them speak.
Another veteran, Jim Ennis, from Philadelphia, brought along Jay Halsey, also from that area. The fifth veteran, Scott Murdoff from Plano, TX, was accompanied by Jack Jones from Flowood, MS. The two Utah hunters, neither of whom had ever taken a whitetail, were Dustin Bennett and Tyler Jensen, although both have much experience with mulies and elk.
As reported on all the season's hunt summaries below, this 2018 season has been our least productive ever. But we should have known a change was coming when, on the first afternoon of the hunt, six does and two bucks (taken by Jack Jones and Phil Roman) were processed in our skinning shed. At noon on the very next day, four bucks and two does were skinned, wrapped and frozen. But it gets even better.
At noon on Friday, the half-way point of the four day affair, fourteen deer were butchered from just that morning's harvest. You talk about a busy place. It's a wonder we had room in our freezers for all that meat.
What caused such a turn-around in the hunting? Was it the moon? Has the so-called second rut come to a complete close? Has the string of freezing morning temperatures finally put our winter weeds down for a while? Why are the deer returning to our corn feeders? As always with any issue related to whitetail deer, there are many more questions than answers.
Fourty-four deer taken on one hunt is the most-ever since 1985. Reason: the harvest of deer, of both sexes, has been super slow this difficult season. Being so far behind, these final hunters were allowed extra deer in an effort to reach the harvest goals on several of the ranches we hunt. They did a magnificent job and can claim to be official participants in our most productive hunt, ever - here in our worst-ever season. Now isn't that ironic?
Re-booking for 2019 are incredible. We have only a couple of open slots. When our final numbers are tabulated and a projection of next season's deer inventory is made, a couple more hunts might be added to our 2019 calendar. Stay tuned to see if such an event comes to pass. You might want to get on our waiting list.
Hunt 13 January 16 - 20
When the deer census work was completed last fall and the numbers were analyzed, we scheduled these final two discounted hunts to help us reach our harvest goals. An email to our list of hunters quickly found takers. One of whom wanted to bring three of his grandsons.
William Davis of Lynchburg, VA has hunted turkeys with us a couple of times. He also introduced a grandson, Jack, to Adobe Lodge deer hunting a few years ago. With three more deer-hunting grandsons William was determined to accommodate, this Hunt 13 fit his goal perfectly. To add to the mix, two fathers of the grandsons came along as non-hunting companions. This gets confusing, to be sure, but we had a grandfather (William), two fathers (William Davis II) and Chad Cox, all as non-hunters. The grandsons were 4th, 5th and 6th graders playing hooky from school (with granddad's encouragement) as William Sr. planned to get all the boys into the incredible numbers of deer at Adobe Lodge.
But that's not all. We also hosted regulars Frank Kollar and son Scott, both with plenty of Adobe Lodge experience under their belts. Their annual goal? Coolers full of deer meat. Yep, they got'er done.
Kevin Niedoba from Hammonton, NJ remembers he first hunted with us back in 1992. (We had forgotten.) He also became a regular at the Mustang Ranch Camp for a number of years. Kevin signed up for this hunt and asked to bring his lovely wife, Mary. Arriving a day late, Mary became the fourth non-hunter in camp.
Finally, Larche Watters from Benton, LA, who hasn't been here since way back in 2012, wanted to be included, as well. If you've kept track so far, the count now shows seven hunters and four non-hunters. But things got even more complicated.
Our associate, Beaver McManus, on the afternoon after the hunters arrived at noon, delivered some yearling heifers we'd bought from him. Together with some of our own similar heifers, the entire group needed to be branded and inoculated with various necessary shots, plus treated for ticks, a common malady this time of year among cattle. So all the hunters got to see some genuine Texas cattle work during the middle of the first full day in camp. Photos of the event are shown below. Terry Waller, the missionary who receives all the money we collect from trophy fees on fall javelinas and turkeys, was on hand to help, as were some of our guides.
Back to the hunting report. Kevin Niedoba was the first to tag a buck at noon on the first day. His ten pointer was 15" wide and weighed 134 lbs., a respectable number here post-rut. Larche Watters got a similar sized eight pointer on the second night. Both went on to help with the doe harvest as we have begged all hunters to do. Larche took two with Kevin harvesting four, all good ones, too.
All three grandsons succeeded in finally collecting respectable first-ever bucks despite several missed shots. No doubt that dreaded disease, "Buck Fever," might have played a part. But we must not forget that our blinds are designed to accommodate full sized men, not young boys. It's difficult to take advantage of the stabilizing shelves and elbow rests we have installed if everything is just too large. Anyway, we were delighted to play a part in William's larger goal of introducing all three grandsons to a sport he, himself, loves. With the two dads and the granddad helping, each youngster had a adult with him in the blind - a huge benefit. Sadly, only one of the boys managed to take a doe.
Both Kollars waited until late in the hunt to finally nail bucks. Frank's came on the final night; Scott took a last-minute consolation 13" eight on the final morning just before the clock stopped. But between the two, eight deer were harvested and for that we are thankful. Scott took the only "exotic" - a dandy raccoon. But, come to think of it, Larche Watters shot four bullets into a sounder of hogs. Surely something, somewhere found its mark. Hogs continue to be a problem, but a small one and somewhat localized. Thankfully, we don't have them every where we hunt.
The weather, except for one day, was picture perfect. Very little wind, mild temperatures except for a windy and chilly Friday night. The cold front on Saturday wasn't as bad as had been predicted. Yes, the wind was strong, but deer movement seemed to be semi-normal. Thursday, Friday and Sunday were delightful. No moisture fell, but the ground continues to be wet from all the earlier rains we've had. Weeds are really growing just now with most deer, both bucks and does, showing little interest in our corn feeders. We hear reports of good bucks being seen, but they seem to drift on by like so many gypsies. Does rarely come.
Deer harvest numbers on Hunt 13 are these: seven buck hunters took seven bucks. Nine does were taken by the group. One raccoon bit the dust. If memory serves, this is only the fifth hunt during the 2018 season where all hunters in camp were successful. Yes, it has been a tough season. But our re-bookings have never been higher. Very few slots remain on our list for next fall. Check out those dates elsewhere on this website.
Hunt 12 January 9 - 13
All on Hunt 12 were returning veterans, the most senior of which was H.B. Lantz from Troy, VA, back for his 19th hunt with us. In fact, he was here earlier this season on Hunt 6. On the first night of this hunt, H.B. moved into first place for "Doe of the Year" honors with a 118 lb. whopper female.
Matthew O'Kelly and Joey Vaughn can be called official "regulars," now back for their fourth year in a row. Matthew collected a heavy-horned 19" buck on the first morning while Joey finally found a 17 1/2" ten on the last afternoon.
Coming back for the second year were Matthew's favorite taxidermists from Tennessee, Brandon Johnson (Eads) and Kevin Beaver (Oakland), both of whom double as hunting guides, as well. So we were hosting professionals and had to stay on our toes the whole time.
Marie Boehler, Mayfield, NY stayed over from the previous hunt to see if she might, with just a couple more days, find a buck she liked. Marie has now hunted here many times and knows a good one when she sees him. Guided by her husband, Craig, this time it worked. She collected a 17" eleven pointer plus a doe, to boot, before their plane left on the second day.
Bob Anderson and his wife, Lana, have also now become regulars coming each year since 2016. Originally, Lana was a designated "non-hunter," but now is an official "doe-harvester" with her trusty rifled twenty gauge, a rare deer weapon here in West Texas. Anyway, Bob got a good 17" eight pointer showing a couple of stubs where good tines had once been. No problem for Lana and her magical computer. Lana photo-shopped the missing horns back onto the rack to restore its original look. For some crazy reason, this contrary computer being used just now won't allow Lana's photo to be included with the photo collection below.
On Saturday, even during a battle with stomach flu, Bob saw a Big Eight which immediately melted his butter. He quickly decided to take us up on the offer of a second buck. With 22-inch-plus main beams and a couple of ten-inch tines on his left side, you can see why. Unfortunately, a missing eyeguard on that left antler kept Bob's buck from hitting the magical 130 inch milestone by a mere inch and a quarter. Nope, you can't measure them if they are missing, but once again, Lana had no trouble in restoring things back to the way they ought to be. You'll see her work below as this ornery computer now allows her work to be shown.
Fair-chase, low-fence hunting seems to offer highs and lows. It's always been this way. The low point on this hunt came when Brandon Johnson missed his shot at a buck. Despite an extensive search by both Brandon and his guide, Albert Zapata, nary a drop of blood was found. A bummer, for sure. But a clean-miss beats a wounded deer any day.
But Kevin Beaver found a high point when he collected his first-ever bobcat. And a beautiful one, she was. Wait till you see those distinctive spots. When pressed for details of the event, Kevin said he shot the cat at 700 yards running through heavy brush. He even had a video to validate his claim. On the show, you see the feline, about 40 yards away in the clear open, coming straight for the blind. Kevin's perfectly placed shot puts her in the air and on the ground in less than a second. So which version are we to believe? Kevin's account or our lying eyes?
Dusty Nelson from Chattanooga, TN accompanied Matthew and Joey on their first visit here back in 2015. It was great to get to see him once again. Dusty, like Joey, finally found a buck on their last night in camp. Dusty's big six pointer was 17 inches wide, plus he found a doe, as well.
Speaking of does - and bucks, as well: the 2018 season continues to be the toughest year we've ever seen. Despite the colder weather now with early morning temperatures several degrees below freezing, all deer are finding plenty to eat in the pastures and are bypassing our usually reliable corn feeders. Oh, to be sure - some feeders are more productive and will attract a fair number of bucks. But most are small and of no interest to veteran hunters who are looking for the size bucks seen on their earlier hunts with us. The sheer number of bucks combined with the lush pasture conditions promises great antlers next year and is reflected in our list of re-bookings. Yes, every hunter on # 12 re-upped for next January.
To sum up the stats, here they are: of the seven hunters, two failed to find a buck they liked. Three took one/each. One took two bucks. And one suffered a miss. One hunter from the previous hunt stayed over to finally find a keeper. There were ten does taken plus one DNF doe. The bobcat was a particular highlight for everyone. Rain fell most of the day on Friday, putting the deer down for a spell. And, of course, the wet and muddy roads kept our guides from gaining access to many of the 50-plus blinds available on this hunt date.
Hunt 11 January 2 - 6
Maybe this hunt got jinxed when our last report predicted better hunting later in the season. Now that colder weather is here, and with the rut mostly over, hunting was sure to get better, we thought. Sadly, it didn't happen on Hunt 11.
And sure as heck, it wasn't the fault of the hunters. They did their part and did it well. But the deer just refused to cooperate. As they have done for most of the season up to now.
Six veterans plus two newcomers made up our team of hunters. Craig and Marie Boehler from upstate New York, who have been here more times than we can count, were on hand. Both know a good Adobe Lodge buck when he shows himself. Neither would think about shooting something immature or ordinary. So neither did.
Charlie Eifert from Mason, OH who collected our legendary Buck of the Year back in 2016 is the same kind of hunter. Charlie, also one of our regular turkey hunters, admitted to seeing a shooter the very first afternoon but passed on him not wanting his hunt to be over so quickly. Besides, he reasoned, there will surely to be a better one to come later. Sadly, it didn't happen. He was kicking himself on the way to the airport.
Rex Bushong from right here in San Angelo has a continuing goal each year when he hunts with us. He wants nothing less than a 14-pointer. No, it has not yet to come to pass, and sure as heck didn't this difficult year. Rex introduced his son Ashley to our camp but couldn't have picked a worse year. Ashley, from Jackson Gap, AL knows a good one when he sees one and didn't even come close to what he has on his wall back home. But he and his guide, Dan Adney, saw a couple of candidates early in the hunt - a 20 incher and another 24 inches wide according to Dan. Dan, who was our first-ever taxidermist back when we first got started in 1985, is a credible judge of deer. Neither of the bucks they saw provided a decent shot, and neither was seen again during the rest of the hunt.
First-timer Rick Westmark and second-year hunter Dick Anderson, both from Minnesota, took bucks. Successful also was third-year hunter Craig Nowell from St. Martinville, LA who got not only his buck but also managed to collect a couple of mega-javelinas. Yep, that's right - only three bucks taken by the group of eight. That's not as bad as a few hunts back when only one buck was taken, but all our guides were busting their tails without success in finding decent bucks for their hunters. On three different ranches, we had 54 blinds in play, too. Guides were scouting and looking but were having as little luck as were the hunters.
The weather started off pretty chilly - around freezing for the first afternoon and the next morning. And there was a bit of ice, too. You'd think this would help. But by the second and third afternoons, temperatures were around 70 degrees and calm - simply beautiful weather to be out hunting. But deer sightings were mighty slim. Yes, some hunters saw many young bucks near the feeders, but others saw few - or none. You were either hot or cold. And the few shootable bucks seen were like phantoms - only in view for seconds.
The final morning was typical of the entire time. Ashley Bushong reported seeing 14-15 small bucks. But only one came to the feeder he was watching. The rest just drifted by, on their way to who-knows-where. The few possible shooter bucks he saw had no interest in the corn. And finding a doe proved to be a near-impossibility. Only eight antlerless deer were taken by the group of eight hunters, despite our raising the harvest quota to three/each. Heck, we could have raised it to ten/each and would have done no better. You can't shoot'em if you can't see'em.
But the hunters took everything in stride and booked six slots for next year. Unless something totally unforeseen happens, all the hunters predicted a super year in 2019 as they counted the sheer numbers of young bucks and saw the bountiful inventory of forage for horn growth this spring.
Re-cap: eight hunters; three bucks; eight does; two javelinas; one fox. Six re-booked.
Hunt 10 December 27 - 31
Sooner or later during our three month-long deer season, you can count on the weather being a factor. Up to now, things have been more-or-less normal. The night before Hunt 10 began, a terrific wind storm moved through our area. Hunters arriving by car got to experience 50 mph winds and a bit of rain. The next day, however, we enjoyed a nice, late-December day.
Apparently, the colder weather has finally brought more bucks to our corn feeders. Here and there. Not all of them are more active, but many are, and for that we (and our hunters) are thankful. With three first-ever buck hunters on board Hunt 10, we were hoping for just such things.
But uh-oh. One of the first-ever hunters, Amber Mousseau from Macomb, MI simply could not get here since her flight from Detroit was cancelled for a couple of days. We have rescheduled her and her dad, Pete (who was here back on Hunt 2) for this date next season.
But for those who did, indeed, get here, the hunt turned out to produce some of the best of the season so far. Consider:
The two remaining first-ever hunters, Josh Dexter and Madisyn Ormsby collected 20-inch bucks. Madisyn got her's fairly early in the hunt, but Josh waited until the final quarter of the game before finally making his selection.
Josh's dad, Chris, from Melbourne, FL got one of the widest bucks of the season at 21 3/4" as an 8 pointer. Their hunting partner was Nick Glosser, a fishing guide up on the Great Lakes, got a nice 14 1/4" nine pointer for his first buck. But when Nick saw "Mr. Big," it was love at first sight. Nick's second buck, with 137+ inches on his head, now moves into the lead for our Home Camp's best. The G-2s on his 8 point rack fork making him a 10 pointer, and both sides are within a couple inches of each other.
James Brogan from Athens, WV and his son-in-law, Guy Pavleck from Frisco, TX have hunted turkeys with us several times, but this was their first Adobe Lodge deer hunt. One of their goals along the way was to introduce Guy's daughter, Niam, to the sport of hunting whitetails. Niam lacks just a couple months being old enough to qualify for a Texas license, but no matter, she accompanied Guy every outing. Grandpaw Brogan, who has hunted big game all around the world, showed Niam a trick or two when he called in and killed a good bobcat. Brogan, as he prefers to be called, saw many, many bucks on almost every outing which, he said, rivaled anything taken so far.
Guy Pavleck took a good 15 1/2 inch six pointer which doesn't sound all that impressive until you see the length of the tines below. He's a good'un, for sure.
Brian Ormsby from Petersburg, PA was here last year and decided this would be the place for his daughter, Madisyn, to finally connect on a good buck since she had taken several does and forkies back home, but never a wall-hanger. As mentioned above, Madisyn's 20-incher had seven points and was the hunt's heaviest buck at 150 lbs. No telling what he weighed before the rut.
The toughest part of our hunting is the doe harvest. When we tell prospects who inquire about our offer that they will have much more trouble collecting their allotment of does than they will a buck, that claim is met with much scepticism. Until they get here. Although we pleaded with all the hunters to be sure to bring in two does before departing, they all said the same thing: put us where we can see does and we'll do it. But blind after blind is frequented almost exclusively by bucks. The deer census back in October found a one-to-one buck/doe ratio, but you sure as heck can't get our hunters to testify to that fact. They would insist the figure should be ten bucks per doe.
With six of the seven hunters in camp being on their first Adobe Lodge deer hunt, their satisfaction level is demonstratd by the number of re-bookings. All re-upped for 2019, and Pete Mousseau promises to get Amber here, weather permitting. The seven put seven bucks on the board with one taking two, one taking none and the rest all finding nice bucks. Only seven does got processed in our skinning shed. And we can't forget that beautiful bobcat called-in by Brogan. She was placed in a plastic bag to be transported back home to Brogan's taxidermist.
Hunt 9 December 17 - 21
Back in 2016, when the Cory Sensenig family from Denver, PA hunted with us, both daughters, Natalie and Laura, took home 20" bucks. Laura's trophy sported our best-ever drop-tine - around 8 inches. This year, they all returned bringing their friend, Dan Miklas along to take his first-ever buck in their quest to make him into a sho'nuff deer hunter.
Back again after taking their first-ever bucks with us last season were Gary Ghio and Jim Gillard from southern California. No doubt, both had taken a strong liking to the sport and were looking forward to a repeat.
Another hunter here to take his first-ever buck was Jeff Pillai, accompanied by his non-hunting father, Vincent. The Pillai's live up north of Dallas in Allen, TX.
The eighth hunter in camp was a long-time veteran with us for both deer and turkeys. Dan Mink lives in Stewartstown, PA and would have been back next April had our spring season not been cancelled. Both Dan and Cory, with oodles of Adobe Lodge experience, opted for our "Trophy Option" plan. Good choice for this year. Our hunting has become tough for those who are after only a tip-top wall-hanger.
But for those with less experience under their belt, they will see many candidates from which to choose. So it was for Jeff Pillai. He made a perfect shot on an eight pointer to become a certified, blood-tested deer hunter. Second-timers, Jim and Gary, found a 9 and a ten pointer respectively on the second day.
All hunters, both long-time veterans and newer rookies, had much, much trouble harvesting does. Reason: does seem to be virtually non-existent. Never mind the fall census which showed plenty of antler-less deer. You'd never prove it by talking to our hunters in the field. Guides, too. Everyone is singing the same song: corn feeders are populated almost exclusively by young-to-middle size bucks. To be sure, big ones are seen occasionally, but not easily and not for long. Guide Larry Meeks told it best:
With his two hunters hunting a pair of blinds elsewhere, Larry scoped-out a third blind. As daylight slowly came, Larry spotted a "shooter" staring at the feeder. More light now. The buck never moved, both eyes fixed on the feeder. Finally, corn was scattered. The buck continued to wait. Ten minutes later, he ambled up to select maybe five kernels of corn and quickly disappeared. No other deer were seen. No does, no yearlings, no young bucks. No runs. No hits. No errors. What is going on?
When the foot or more of rain fell back earlier in the fall, winter weeds came on like gang busters. Deer much prefer nature's bounty when it is available, but rarely are things ever this good. Yes, hunters are seeing and taking deer. But not as readily as we are used to. First-timers are amazed while veterans are somewhat dispirited.
The second-worst event in our hunting camp (the worst would be a gun accident, which we've never had, Thank God) is when a First-Ever buck hunter loses that first-ever buck. Dan Miklas made a perfect shot into the shoulder of a doe. What a dress-rehersal, we thought. He's ready. Unfortunately, Dan drew blood on a buck on the second night, but after an extensive search the following morning, we had to put a DNF in his buck column. Like the other hunters, Dan had heck finding another doe. So did Jeff Vincent. So did Gary and Jim. And it wasn't for lack of trying, either. They all hunted hard. Does have virtually disappeared.
Unfortunately, Dan's DNF wasn't the only one. Natalie Sensenig's doe was never found. And on the final night, Laura's buck took off after her shot. Next morning, the search party was able to find only a few slivers of bone. Laura did manage earlier in the hunt to collect a good javelina, but that is a poor consolation.
The hunt ended, then, with the eight hunters tagging four bucks while suffering the two DNF's. Two hunters, the Trophy Option guys, found nothing worth the trophy fee. Only Cory Sensenig and daughter, Laura, managed to collect the limit of two does, and Natalie would have, too, without that DNF. Four others took only one; one took zip. Despite the slow deer harvest, the weather was quite normal and very pleasant with temperatures in the high 20s at daylight warming to the mid-50s or even 60s during the afternoon. There was some wind one day, but not bad by any means.
Our next report won't appear until next year (January 1, 2019). Stay tuned.
Hunt 8 December 9 - 13
The tradition traces all the way back to 1995, the first year John Newsome ever hunted with us. We look forward to seeing him a couple/three/four times each season as he hosts family, employees and friends. Since that initial date, we have lost count of the number of his visits. But it's a bunch.
On this traditional mid-season date, John was accompanied mostly by family. There was his son John (a.k.a. Johnny or Junior), Johnny's beautiful wife, Angie plus their son, John IV whom we have christened Quatro (Spanish for "four.") Also on hand were Brian Burke, John's son-in-law, and David Marrow, Johnny and Angie's son-in-law. Myron Woomer, John's faithful employee/sidekick of many years was along, as always. Finally, there was Zac Stuckemyer, one of John's long-time amigos from back home.
John, Johnny, Angie, Brian and Myron have been here more times than we can count. On their visit this time, many conversations began like this: "Hey - remember the time when . . . ." Much history was discussed along the way. Stories were knee-deep after lunch and supper.
Myron was the first to put his tag on a buck by noon of the first full day. That night, things got super busy as John Sr. and John Jr. both collected good ones, an eleven and a ten, respectively. For a while there, it appeared as if Angie would be successful, too. We were trying to remember if all three had ever taken bucks at the same time. If so, it could have been that super, super windy, dusty day years ago, when six hunters in the Newsome party all harvested bucks on the most unlikely morning of that season. This time, they got close to that long-ago feat when Brian Burke and Zac Stuckemeyer arrived back in camp that same night with two more good ones, both ten pointers. That made four for sure.
But alas, Angie's buck wasn't found that night. Next morning, an extensive search of the crime scene found bone and blood, but no-carcass-no-where. So we had to enter the dreaded "DNF" by sweet Angie's name. More about this later.
The doe harvest proceeded at a normal pace, and the younger hunters were exterminating a few unwanted/unloved varmints along the way. Good for them.
On the final full day, Quatro and David both finally found bucks they liked. Quatro's had numerous small points around the base of his right antler. Most unusual. We called him an eleven on his basic 8 point rack.
But the real story of the entire hunt was what John Jr. was able to accomplish. For almost five years now, Junior has been in a terrific battle with cancer in his jaw, mouth and tongue. His super strength (as a former power-lifter, he had arms like tree trunks when we first met him twenty years ago) has waned considerably. Guide Albert Zapata, who has become a close, close friend after all these many years, offered to sit with Johnny and assist in any way. Junior declined all offers of help. He loaded his own gun and killed that first deer all by himself without an ounce of aid. When that first buck was brought back to camp, his stamina was spent and Albert stood-in for the official photo of Junior's fine buck, a 20-inch ten pointer.
Around the mid-point, Johnny collected a nice doe, hunting again all by himself.
On the final afternoon (before rib eye night), Johnny accepted our offer of a second buck. Once again, he choose to do it all by his lonesome as Albert left him at yet another blind. Mercy-me-oh-my. Wait till you see this dude pictured below. The 18" nine pointer had a neck like a bull and was a mature 5 1/2 years-old. This time, Junior felt strong enough to endure our photography ordeal as he bravely stood for photos with his trophy buck.
In the collection of photos below, there is one of Angie Newsome, John Sr. and Jeri Duncan. Just over Angie's right shoulder can be see Johnny in our "Buck of the Year" display when he collected the Home Camp best buck of the 2010 season, a 17" twelve-pointer that taped 147 7/8".
John Sr. will be returning for yet another hunt in January. Junior would like to come, as well, but we simply don't have room. Idea: maybe they can both come after that final date? We'll work on the plan.
Remember that DNF on Angie's buck? Two days later, a search party once again combed the area. Danged if Myron and our incredible skinner, David Gonzales who has eyes like a hawk, didn't find the old boy, obviously wounded in his right elbow and brisket. A couple of missed shots later, the buck bounded away once again. When you're hot, you're hot. When you're not, you're not.
So here are the final stats. Eight hunters put eight bucks on our tally board. But there was that one DNF while one hunter took two bucks. Ten does were taken. Numerous varmints were removed. Thanks, guys. Such news is very welcomed.
Our next hunt report won't be posted until around about Dec. 21-22. Merry Christmas.
Hunt 7 December 4 - 8
Of the nine hunters on this date, four of them have been here countless times, dating all the way back to the previous century. In fact, two of them took our "Buck of the Year" honors. John Rohrer, Millersville, PA did it in 1994; Warren Widmyer earned the title in 1999. The other two long-time veterans on this date were John's amigo, Ken Hess from Lancaster. And we got to see our long-time buddy, Ray Hudgens from Jupiter, FL.
Also coming from the Lancaster area were Chris Long, Jamie Hess and Chad Beitler plus we hosted Tom Peterson, Odessa, FL, and Mike Dellis, Ahwahnee, CA, all of whom have two-five hunts with us. So those in camp pretty well knew what to expect as we reminded them about the lack of activity around the corn feeders reported by earlier hunters. The weeds are now lush, and will become more so. The rut is now hot and heavy, we noted. The weather forecast predicted much rain on the final full day of the hunt. So with these instructions and warnings, the hunt began.
In an email a few days ago, Chad Beitler had asked if he might find a place for some long-distance shooting. Also, Chad was keen on calling up a bobcat. He was more interested in these other challenges than he was in finding a buck to rival the 161-inch whopper he collected recently back home in PA. On the first afternoon, Chad did, indeed call up a large bobcat. Trouble was, the rascal was across a river, the boundary between our home ranch and the neighbors to the north. Following pre-hunt instructions to not shoot across a ranch's perimeter, Chad let him walk. Can't shoot if they are out of bounds.
Later on, sitting in a blind which was uniquely situated for a long-distance shot, Chad had a 500+ yard chance at a doe. Before he could get everything situated for the shot, along comes a small four-pointer who had instantly fallen in love with the doe. His attempts at romance ran her off and out of site. Just his luck. Chad got mighty close with both his goals, but alas, no prize except for a doe he collected along the way with a conventional shot.
The five Lancaster, PA amigos all put up a handsome sum of money as a wager on who would collect the largest buck. On the second night of the hunt, Ken Hess set the bar plenty high with a ten pointer that was the third largest of the season so far. All now knew what they had to do. It wasn't until the final full day, and a rainy one at that, when John Rohrer found a credible rival. He watched and evaluated his target inside the pen but was hesitant to shoot for fear the bullet might be deflected by a wire. Unexpectedly, the buck jumped the panel and started off. Quickly now, John torqued himself around for a "Hail Mary." Thankfully and luckily, the badly placed shot did the deed and put the buck down maybe 50 yards later. The 18 1/2" nine-pointer, a hair over 130 inches, moved Mr. Rohrer into the top slot for the season. Ken Hess was a super good sport about being moved out of the money.
Seven of the nine hunters took their two does while one took only one (except we tabulated a lone DNF) making the count come in at 14 does. Six bucks were taken. No javelinas nor turkeys came to the skinning shed, although Warren Widmyer almost had a shot at a large gobbler. Almost. That pretty well describes many things, now doesn't it? We did get to photo a large porcupine, the most sought-after mennace for us bird dog owners. You can't believe what a vet charges to remove just a few hundred quills.
Three of the hunters re-booked although a couple of them moved to an earlier date. But a couple others were waiting to move their date to this one. As stated elsewhere on this site, open dates change frequently. Check that portion of our website often to see if we have something that will work for you.
Hunt 6 Nov. 29 - Dec. 3
Over our 30+ year history, this sixth hunt of the 2018 season just might be our all-time worst for putting bucks on our tally board. For those who skip over this report to only look at photos of bucks, it won't take you long. In fact, there is only one buck to check out. And we had a full slate of eight hunters, too. Good grief. One for eight. An all-time record. So what's the deal?
Well, what follows below is our story, and we are sticking to it.
Of the eight, H.B. Lantz, Troy, VA and Mike Kramer, Lake Villa, IL have oodles of Adobe Lodge deer hunts behind them. In fact, H.B. said this was his 16th visit with us. Mike can probably count that many trips if you include his turkey hunts each spring. Both hunters know a good Adobe Lodge buck when they see one, and both wisely chose our "Trophy Option" price.
Mike never saw a buck that melted his butter. H.B. did, but the rascal was hiding behind the corn feeder and never revealed himself. H.B. had to let him walk. Over the four days, each of the two saw scads of young bucks, probably 2 1/2 or maybe a year older. But sightings of older, mature, heavy-antlered bucks were super-sketchy. And never mind that the helicopter counts back in October found plenty of mature bucks.
Three hunters from Georgia had similar experiences- lots of young ones, but a dearth of mature shooters. Coming from close enough to see the Atlantic Ocean of the Georgia coast, Henry Cooper from Saint Simons Island, who was here back in 2010 brought along cousin Bill Cooper, Chula, GA and Steve Ruckel from Leesburg. Bill and Steve are retired biologists with the Georgia DNR. Either would know a good one when he showed himself. Trouble is, the good ones these days are as elusive as winning lottery tickets. All either professional saw was small bucks. Yes, there were a lot of them, but they wanted to see big'uns.
Wendell McPherson, Wethersfield, CT first came with our long-time client, Bill Knapp, the legend of Adobe Lodge who collected our "Buck of the Year" title three times. Mac has become a regular. Recently he has enticed his son, Brian, from Canon City, CO to join him on his annual Texas adventure. Last year, Brian brought daughter, Renae. This year, brought his wife, Blanca. Since the McPhersons re-booked three slots on next year's date, you can easily call them "regulars" now.
It was Blanca who collected the only buck taken. But what a spectacular specimen he is. That 7 inch eyeguard and the 4 inch drop tine on his left antler are something to behold. And to top things off, this dude was Blanca's first-ever whitetail (although she has several mule deer to her credit.)
So why the lack of "big shooters" that are the focus of the veterans? As everyone knows, outfitters (for big game, fish, fowl, whatever) are always armed with a multitude of excuses. Pick any or all from the following list:
In late summer/early fall, our area had historic rainfall which germinated a plethora of winter weeds, all highly sought by deer and indeed, domestic livestock, as well. The pasture land now offers lush grazing. Hence, our old-faithful corn feeders are being ignored, especially by the older, more mature bucks.
But it gets even worse. All reports from the field from both guides and hunters confirm that the rut is hot and heavy just now. Bucks are being seen by-passing feeders without stopping for even one kernel of corn. They have romance on their minds. Deer counts this past fall showed a respectable number of mature bucks on all the ranches we hunt. But you can't get many of our guides or hunters to agree with that statistic. The top-end bucks are virtually hidden from view. Only youngsters are out and about.
All that's the bad news. Thankfully, here's the good news: all eight hunters had chosen our "Trophy Option," the perfect, wisest choice in a year such as this. So they came, they took a couple of does, they ate plenty of good food, they enjoyed the fellowship/fun/frivolity of camp life, but they paid way less than our regular price. And no one took an inferior, so-called "last-day" buck.
Regarding does, the troops did mighty good. Only one name failed to fill the two slots in the doe column. Unfortunately, we had to put the dreaded "DNF" in two of the slots for does. So the eight hunters took an even dozen does. That's lots of venison. Except for one windy and raw day, the weather was near perfect with low 30s at sunup and near 65 during the afternoon.
Because there happened to be some extra space in our photo collection for this hunt, we are showing some scenes of hunters packing meat for their trip back home.
To confirm that the hunters understood the unusual conditions this year, five re-booked before they left camp. Another signed on immediately. So there are now only two open slots on this hunt date for 2019. Call or email to get on board. As we were taught to say back in Outfitter School: "You need to be here next year."
Hunt 5 November 25 - 28
It's been at least ten years since we produced a hunt where all the hunters were first-timers with us. We got to learn eight brand new names, all from western Pennsylvania, just south of Pittsburg.
The group was headed by Gerry O'Hare, a druggist by trade, and most all the rest were similarly employed. For all of them, it was their very first Texas hunt, but most have plenty of experience hunting elsewhere. Since we all needed to get to know one another, our traditional orientation/introduction kickoff lasted a little longer than usual. But that was no problem as they had driven in early to camp. When the fourth Pennsylvanian in the circle introduced himself as Bill Fatigati, a PETA official, here to evaluate our operation's "ethical treatment" of animals, any awkwardness felt by anyone evaporated immediately, and from then on until they waved goodbye, the entire affair was a rip-roaring, good-time party.
All the guides did their best to instruct the new-to-Texas hunters what to expect. How to judge the bucks they would see; how to distinguish button-bucks from does; how to tell a javelina from a feral hog. All were warned about the difficulty in collecting their quota of two does. You'll see many more bucks than does, we said. Historically, hunters from PA listen to all these predictions with skeptical ears. Back home, bucks are seen rarely, rarely. Does are much more numerous. Those whose deer experience has been exclusively PA have a most difficult time in "waiting for a big one." But here on our fair-chase, low-fence hunts, it is impossible to know when you are looking at the largest buck you will see during the four days. Indeed, he might show himself on the first afternoon. Or maybe not until the final morning. Or maybe not at all. Such is hunting, and is one of the reasons we offer our unique "Trophy Option" pricing, described in detail elsewhere on this website.
As we had foreseen and predicted for these newcomers from Pennsylvania, most of the
bucks harvested came early in the hunt. We had four on our tally board after the first day. By noon the second day, three more had been recorded. But therein lies a story.
Over the past couple of years, an exact-same scene has unfolded. It goes like this: a hunter shoots a buck; the buck runs off, seemingly unharmed. Shortly thereafter, when a carbon-copy buck arrives, the hunter thinks the first buck has returned. So this second buck is taken down. When the guide comes and hears the story, the guide goes for a look/see only to discover Buck # 1 some distance away but out of sight of the blind. So the hunter is now obligated to pay for a 2nd buck. It happened back on Hunt 3, and now it happened again to Jay Fatigati. When Jay talked to his guide, Jerry Watts, he was warned not to shoot the second buck until the first one had been confirmed lost. But Jay coveted the buck in his sight and didn't mind the risk of the second-buck fee. So Jay wound up with two bucks. Plus a couple of does, as well. He's a deer killing machine.
When the Fat Lady sang, all the hunters admitted to seeing larger bucks than what they had taken. Since the rut is now up and running, rattling was found to be working and a couple of the hunters got to experience this unique form of Texas hunting.
On the final night's hunt with the board full of bucks and when antler-less deer were now the target, Bill Fatigati (the PETA rep. Ho. Ho. Ho.) saw no does. Why? Where could they be? Then he heard the nearby scream of a cat, a sound guaranteed to send chills up your spine. No wonder about the doe's absence. Does don't like bobcats.
We were reminded of a similar deal three years ago when an Alabama hunter heard the scream of a bobcat female behind him but was totally unable to torque himself around in the blind for a shot. Moments later, a bobcat appeared down near the feeder and was immediately put down. Amazingly, a second one came shortly thereafter and was similarly dispatched. Come to find out, both were yearling males who had heard the screaming female (in heat?) and came hoping to get lucky.
Hunt 5 ended as good as it possibly could have. The eight hunters put nine bucks on our tally board plus 12 does. Four javelinas were taken, as well. Four of the eight hunters took their two-doe quota; four took only one doe. Two took two javelinas/each.
The best news: the entire group re-booked for 2019. We are already looking forward to their return.
Hunt 4 November 17 - 21
Veteran hunters dominated on Hunt 4. Some of them can trace their first hunt with us to fifteen years ago, or more. It is always a special treat for us to see former clients.
In no particular order, here they are: We'd have to mention Dude Phelan, Ocala, FL who was here on Hunt 3 and stayed over for # 4. Dude first hunted with us way back in the mid-90s. Now we are blessed to see him (and his beautiful, non-hunting wife, Stephanie) on two successive hunts the past couple of years. Nope, Dude collected no buck on either 2018 date but re-booked for a pair of dates in 2019. We will credit Dude for a full allotment of does for his two hunts this season.
Other multi-year veterans were Lyle Olson and Ed McFarland. It was at least fifteen years ago we first got to host Lyle. A few years later, Lyle invited Ed on board. As things happen in the sport of hunting, it was Ed who was successful this 2018 season, collecting a 19" ten-pointer. Unfortunately, Lyle saw no buck he judged to be worth the trophy fee. Such is hunting. Both Lyle and Ed collected their limit of two does/each. Lyle's largest weighed 102 lbs., the best of the hunt. Upon their arrival in camp, both hunters re-booked for 2019 just so they would not forget to do so.
Scott Patterson and son, Ryan, a high school senior this year, have become Adobe Lodge regulars, having been introduced to us by Scott's brother, Lynn. Lynn likes to come as a non-hunter to keep tabs on brother and nephew. But uh-oh. Lynn was handicapped this season when he broke a collar bone a few weeks ago. We got Lynn's photo with nephew Ryan during his brief visit to camp this year. See below. Ryan's former interest was bow hunting. Nowadays, he is fascinated with long-distance shooting. The shot Ryan made on that 17" nine pointer was at our most common distance, about 100 yards. But Ryan drilled the buck right smack in the shoulder, just as we counseled in our pre-hunt meeting. Looking closely at Ryan's photo below, you can see where that bullet went.
Pat Keough, Rye, NY is usually accompanied on Adobe Lodge trips by his sons. Not so this year. Pat brought his long-time amigo, Hal Wright, from Athens, GA. Pat and Hal have been friends since high school there in Atlanta, GA. Come to find out, there is an interesting story about these two companions. Pat's dad was a top executive with Coca-Cola in Atlanta. Hal's dad owned the local Pepsi-Cola bottling plant. How could two friends ever make this work? But they did, and they have, for all these years. Recently, they went on a dove hunt in Argentina together.
Hal was the only Adobe Lodge rookie on this date and put a good 16 inch, nine pointer on our tally board early in the hunt. Hal went on to collect a pair of good does. Pat had to settle for a small ten pointer late in the hunt and tagged two does along the way, as well. Pat again booked two slots for next season, and Hal was talking about bringing his son.
Jim Davis, on his second trip here to hunt with us, outdid himself with a dandy 16 inch eight pointer plus 82 and 60 pound does. Jim re-booked for 2019 before he left camp.
Here, then, is the summation of the statistics of Hunt 4: eight hunters took five bucks. Three "Trophy Option" hunters took no bucks while one of them found a buck he judged to be worth the trophy fee. One regular price hunter passed on the all bucks he saw. All eight harvested their quota of two does/each.
The weather during these pre-Thanksgiving days was quite stable with low-30s at daylight and sixty-ish temperatures during the afternoons. Wind has been mostly calm. Hunters reported modest deer activity around the corn feeders due to the lush winter weeds that are found in abundance following the rains of a month ago. The full moon during the hunt was surely a factor, as well. Even so, six of the eight in camp re-booked for next year. Scott and Ryan Patterson will be coming back, also, but will be looking for an open date during the Christmas break as Ryan will be a college freshman by then.
Hunt 3 November 12 - 16
The winter's first freeze came on Hunt 3. The first afternoon, we had to have our pre-hunt meeting inside the lodge while the wind blew a chilly gale out of the north. Indeed, the first two mornings of the hunt saw temperatures only in the mid-20s. But the final two days, we had shirt-sleeve afternoons and almost no wind. Beautiful fall weather.
And there was no doubt the rut was right around the corner. Guide Kent Terrill said it best: "The bucks are ready, but the does haven't quite yet come into heat." Numerous bucks were seen during the middle of the day standing right beside well traveled roads. Even so, activity around the corn feeders does not compare to earlier, drier years. When you look at the ground, you can see why. A deer can walk ten steps in any direction and fill his/her belly with palatable winter weeds. All this was predicted several weeks ago when our area received inches and inches of rain. Sure enough, it has come true.
All eight hunters on # 3 were Adobe Lodge veterans. The newest of the group, Melvin Ellington, was on his first hunt with us last year. This second year, Melvin lost no time in putting a buck down for the count on that first afternoon's hunt in the cold wind.
The sub-freezing temperatures the next morning did not keep Lee Wilson or Larry Daley from tagging good bucks. That afternoon, Larry's brother, Frank Daley, hit one that could not be found despite extensive searching that night and the next morning. Our first DNF on a buck this season - what a bummer. But Frank succeeded in putting a couple of does plus a bonus doe in the freezer for the UPS shipment of venison back to Amherst, NH. He's done this before and we are well-schooled on the drill.
On this same November hunt back in 2016, Ken Carter moved firmly into the lead for our coveted "Buck of the Year" honors with a 147 inch dude and stayed there until after Christmas. Finally he got moved down a couple of notches by a pair of late-season whoppers. This year's hunt, Ken's tale was much different. As he told it, in came a good eight point and Ken fired. Off ran the buck. Contrary to our advice and counsel, Ken exited the blind. His evaluation of the crime scene found no sign of the victim. He returned to the blind. Shortly thereafter, here the eight-point comes again. Ken shot. Successfully this time - the buck went down. When guide Snake Allen arrived and heard the tale, both decided a more exhaustive search should be made. Sure enough, there he lay, Buck # 1, who looked amazingly like Buck # 2. So poor Ken had to pay the fee for a second buck. We credited him with two eight pointers, not a 16 pointer, by the way.
Bill Wurfel, Robbinsville, NJ, hunted with Beaver McManus last week and took two good bucks at that camp. Hunting on some of our Home Camp MLD land, Bill could legally harvest a third buck. Bill is a dedicated hunter and knows a good one when he sees one. Paired last season with Matt Shubert from Titusville, FL who has hunted more Adobe Lodge camps than anyone, the duo searched only for top-end candidates. As stated earlier, activity around the feeders has been disappointing. It wasn't until the final night that Bill found a butter-melter, an unusual ten pointer that lacked only a couple of inches hitting the 130 mark. Check out his photo below.
On the last morning, Matt finally saw what he was looking for, but the rascal was out at least 200 yards and Matt vetoed a shot at that distance, a move we applaud and appreciate. No one wants a wounded buck, especially on the final morning.
Just as he did last season, Dude Phelan from Ocala, FL, booked on Hunts 3 and 4. Dude admitted to seeing some good bucks this go-round, but none was exceptional enough to warrant the Trophy Option fee. Dude and his beautiful bride, Stephanie, will be sticking around for more merriment on Hunt 4, our last event before Thanksgiving. Although Dude collected no buck, he did make a heck of a 200 yard shot and brought in a great coyote. If we've ever had one in camp to photograph, none of us could remember for sure. Dude evidently knows his coyotes. When asked what the critter might weigh, Dude quickly ventured "35 pounds." He missed his guess by a whisker - see the photo of the scale below.
Eight hunters, then, put six bucks on our tally board. Two didn't find a keeper, one lost his buck and one inadvertently took two bucks. Ten does were taken. Larry Daley and Lee Wilson both took foxes, and Dude nailed that coyote. We offer our profound thanks to those who reduce our varmint population.
Hunt 2 November 7 - 11
When three of your nine hunters in camp request taking additional does instead of a buck, you know the closely watched success rate for bucks will take a hit. So be it. We are more interested in happy hunters than we are in reaching a 100% rate on antlered deer.
Jim Mousseau from Gypsum, CO began hunting here with his dad way back around the turn of the century. And for the past number of years, he has yet to take a buck. He is much more interested in the venison. But if he ever does pull the trigger on a big-un, that dude will probably be a candidate for the "Buck of the Decade." That's how selective Jim is. Jim was kind enough to send us the buck photos which can be found below. Here you will see some of the bucks that Jim passed on.
For the past few years, Jim has brought along family members. Back for the second year were Stephen and Cheryl Moon from Freeland, MI. Both collected good bucks - Stephen's was wider at 19" while Cheryl's had the most points - eleven. And both Moon's filled their quota of two does/each. Cheryl is Jim's sister.
Another member of Jim's family is cousin Pete Mousseau. Remember that name. Pete will be back here with his daughter after Christmas to introduce her to the "Adobe Lodge Experience." Pete was a busy hunter taking two does plus a bobcat, plus a fox. And until the very end, it appeared he would not find a buck that met his high standards. But on that final, beautiful morning, right at the last minute, we got to take Pete's photo with the heaviest and widest buck of them all - a 21-inch, ten pointer that weighed 152 lbs.
In addition to Jim Mousseau, another couple of hunters with zero interest in bucks were Californians Peter Ruseski and Ken Austad. We can date their first hunt with us back to 1996. For the past few years, however, Peter has been coming alone as Ken dealt with family health issues back home. Peter has been coming in his Porsche and last year loaded that vehicle down with all the venison it could carry. Indeed, the feat should qualify for the Guinness book of records. Never in all of history has a Porsche hauled that many deer. This year, however, and especially with Ken along, the pair wisely rented a proper truck to transport their bounty of deer meat.
The only first-timer in the group was Raymond Jordan from North Carrollton, MS. He was a busy hunter taking a buck, a pair of does, his first-ever javelina, and a fox.
Returning veterans were Rob McNamara and son, Zach. As things happen in the sport of deer hunting, poor Zach was the victim of the dreaded "B.F." disease which has been known to affect all of us when we are looking at an extraordinary trophy through a good scope. But it was a clean miss, thank goodness. The buck lives to be hunted again.
Rob, however, didn't miss, but he thought he might have. And if he had not been in a blind with such an extraordinary field of view, he might have assumed the worst. Rob tells it best. After the +/- hundred-yard shot, Rob watched the buck run in that wide open country for 600 yards or more. Not good. The only encouraging sign? The buck had his tail between his legs, not up and flagging as most whitetails do. That far out by now, Rob watched the old boy disappear behind a large, lone cedar on the otherwise barren hillside. He watched and waited. He waited and watched. Finally when guide Dick Irons arrived, they journeyed to that distant bush and there lay Rob's buck, and a dandy he was - an 18" nine pointer. Had thick brush, which mostly dominates all our hunting area, obscurred Rob's view, he could not have known where the buck might have gone. Rob got to watch the entire journey. We love stories with good endings, don't you?
The nine hunters in camp took five bucks. There was that miss to deal with, plus the three hunters who had no intention of taking a buck. The group put 22 does on the tally board. Extras included a couple of foxes and that bobcat plus a dandy javelina. It was a fun and busy hunt. Want proof? Almost 100% rebooked for 2019 except for one who had schedule complications with a trip to Alaska and another pair who requested to come on a later hunt next year. So we have two slots open on this date in 2019.
Hunt 1 November 2 - 6
There is something inherently good and wholesome about fathers and sons hunting together. Those of us whose fathers introduced us to hunting were truly blessed. Time spent hunting with your dad was mighty special. If you get to hunt with your kids, you are one lucky person. The tradition was passed to you. Here's the rule: if you inherited hunting from your forebears, pass the sport along to your offspring.
And so it was on Hunt 1. Everyone in camp was a father or son. It just doesn't get any better. Father/son groups are our favorites.
On Hunt 1, we once again hosted a father/son pair from California, dad John Seps and son Sam Seps. And once again for the fourth or fifth time, we got to see Joe Ivey and his two sons, Russell and Tony, from down around the Houston area.
Newcomers this time were a couple of son/father pairs from the Reading area of Pennsylvania, Bill Ruth and dad, John plus Keith Malone and his father, Doug.
We say "son/father" because Bill and Keith, who have been friends since kindergarten, decided to take their respective fathers on a good deer hunt. Keith admits to scoping-out countless web sites to finally settle on ours as THE place for the big event. Good choice. It turned to be a heck of a hunt, but to make things even better, the weather was almost perfect. Cool mornings, warm afternoons and not much wind. The hunters did get to see the effects of the recent rains - lots of muddy roads and wet ground everywhere.
We always tell hunters to be ready to take a buck that first afternoon of the hunt if they see one that "melts their butter" simply because you just never know if or when a better one might be seen. Sometimes they are; sometimes not. It's a dice roll if ever there was one.
Russell Ivey on that initial afternoon brought in a dandy buck that turned out to be the second-heaviest of all the bucks taken. He weighed 144 lbs. But his dad, Joe, passed a good'un that he later wished he would have taken. Such is the nature of fair-chase, low-fence hunting. The eternal question is this: "When am I looking at the best buck I will see while I am here?"
Meanwhile on that first night while we were getting photos of Russell, we also got photos of Sam Seps with a good javelina. A javelina is always a special trophy.
Next morning, a couple of handsome nine's were taken by Bill Ruth and Doug Malone. That night, three ten's were processed in the skinning shed. They were taken by Keith Malone, Sam Seps and John Ruth. None of us could remember ever having three ten pointers come in all at once.
The next day, John Seps won the point contest by collecting a dandy twelve-pointer. The rascal had a pair of perfectly matched split G-1s or eyeguards on his basic ten-point rack.
While doe hunting, Keith and Doug Malone happened to down a feral hog/each. Keith's was enormous but we had no way to find out just how big he was. Check out his photo below. Sam Seps also got a bullet into a feral, but we had no photo of the deed. No matter. In an effort to keep down their numbers, we encourage all hunters to shoot any and all hogs possible. We make no attempt to retrieve a hog's carcass since we don't bring them in to be butchered. Just shoot them and leave them lay - that's our policy.
Statistically, the nine hunters filled up every slot on our tally board by posting nine bucks and 16 does plus a couple of DNF does (did not find.) Thank goodness none of the bucks were DNFs. Indeed, there were two 8s, three 9s, three 10s, and that 12 pointer. In addition, we counted three hogs and that javelina, to boot. The guys were so successful that the Seps and the Iveys left for home with a day-and-a-half remaining in their allotted time due to the fact that they had filled their quotas already.
We are indebted to Keith Malone, Bill Ruth and our guide Dan Adney for furnishing some of the photos below. Thanks guys.
Luckily, our first hunt of the 2018 season got sandwiched in between rain events. The first three days were perfect with moderate temperatures and little wind. But the week before Hunt A got underway, our area was inundated with much, much rain. And yet another downpour came again just as things were drawing to a close. Indeed, if Polaris Rangers and John Deere Gators didn't exist, we'd be way out of luck.
On hand for all this excitement was our most faithful, long-term and prolific client, Mr. John Newsome from Shumway, IL. First time he was here, it was learned from studying our picture books, was way back in 1994. He hosted his faithful sidekick, Myron Woomer plus four others, all of whom have been here many times. Indeed, Myron collected our fabled "Buck of the Year" honors back in 1996. John's employee, Tom Rentfro won it twice in 2012 and 2014.
Others in John's group were his former employee and long-time amigo, Paul Cozadd and a couple of his area's law enforcement guys, Bill Frese and Larry Finfrock.
John collected an 18" eight pointer the first night of the hunt while Bill Frese got himself a huge female bobcat that weighed 29.1 lbs. The next day, Tom Rentfro put his tag on a 19 1/2" six pointer but later spotted a much better one. Sure enough, Larry Finfrock got him later from that same blind. Although he's only 14 1/2" wide, all ten tines were plenty long. Check him out in the photos below.
Paul Cozadd collected his buck plus the allotted pair of does. The only one failing to take a buck was Myron Woomer but he was only able to hunt the first two days. Myron and John had to hurry home for a family health situation.
Before that untimely departure, John did, as he has done so many times, took a second buck. But this year, John's real feat was putting one bullet through two javelinas. John had to wait and wait for the pair of swine to line themselves up for that special shot he wanted. As nifty as that trick was, we all remembered the time several years ago when Mr. Newsome with his incredible shooting skills laid down three bucks all at one time with only one bullet. John is always, always, more interested in the shot presented to him than he is the size of the buck. Interestingly, John refuses to harvest does.
Seems like every hunt brings an event that makes it unique and memorable. This one produced belly-laughs for all of us who heard Paul Cozadd tell of his experiences at a certain feeder. When the thing failed to go-off at the appointed time, a few minutes later Paul, a design engineer by trade who knows more than a little something about mechanical devices, made his way from his blind to the feeder, situated a hundred yards distant.
The device, by now, was at least 15 minutes tardy doing its duty. So as not to sit at a feeder where no corn had been dispensed, Paul hit the "test" button - a wise and logical move that should have activated the device to begin spinning out corn from the barrel. It worked. Out came the corn and amid the shower of kernels, Paul hurried back to the blind before any nearby deer, alerted by the sound, should happen to come his way.
But once in the blind, there was a very apparent problem. The motor on the feeder, which should have ceased operation after a few seconds, continued to spray out the golden food. Good grief, Paul thought. If I don't stop that thing, the barrel will be empty of corn after a while and Skipper will be upset with me.
So tilting his cap down to cover his eyes from the flying missiles (which can sting mightily if they happen to hit you just right, say on the ear), Paul bravely charged the feeder. His years of training told him exactly what to do and he did it. He disconnected the wires to the battery. The motor stopped. Now the ground was yellow in all directions. But the story ended even worse. No deer came to the bounty. But Paul saved many dollars worth of corn with his quick thinking, for which we were plenty grateful. Had he not acted as he did, seven sacks of corn (+/- $7.25/bag) would have been wasted.
The six hunters collected six bucks, eight does, two javelinas, and one bobcat. It was a heck of a good start to the 2018 season.