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Posted: 2/15/2012 1:46:12 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/15/2012 8:10:42 PM EDT by hi-tech-rancher]
Many people scoff at Texas deer hunting, because we use feeders. On my ranch, we are in a level 3 (out of 3 levels) management system, in which we do counts in summer and then observation logs, sex ratio counts and habitat surveys before deciding the harvest we undertake. I keep the jaws and weigh every deer, and even surgically remove brainstems when its my turn, to look for any evidence of spongiform encphalopathies.

This year, amidst Texas worst drought, we have had deer coming to feed plots and protein feeders very reliably. My place is low-fenced but some people still believe that is not "fair chase." This thread is not about debating this philosophy but to tell a great story about an average hunter, who shot an average deer, on foot, with no feeders anywhere in sight. We used a 6.8 SPC Rem bolt gun, shooting 95 grain Barnes TTSX's, and one of us wore camo, one of us didn't.

The hunt started out after we had already harvested one doe that morning near a feeder. Why? Because in February our does are bred, and we do NOT want to accidentally kill a button buck or a pregnant doe, so the feeder locations, help us get 1) a good high vantage point persepctive to better ID the deer, and 2) lots of different animals from which to select, since we are managing the overall population density as much as antler quality.

We had quartered the first doe of the morning, and then we ate breakfast in the lodge. Huevos rancheros, pancakes, sliced berries, and bacon. As we were sitting around planning the afternoon hunt, we saw some deer run across the shooting range. My hunter asked "any interest in trying to stalk up to one?" I said "sure! absolutely....let's go!"

So, off we went down the hill behind the house, into the area where we had seen the deer melt into the cover. We walked about 400 yards into the valley, and started seeing the group, foraging. They immediately saw us and became alert, then came towards us to see what in the world we were. Two of them loped off into the cover, and one lingered behind, but it was a button buck, so we passed it. On the ground, its very much more difficult to see these features on a deer than up in the stand. So we got into the trees, and started seeing legs. We knew there were a few there, but we couldn't see the heads, so I started looking at their bellies to determine which might be pregnant. After about an hour of creeping ahead, and stopping, we laid down on a small rise and pulled out the bipod hoping they would come out in to a tiny opening. The never did, so I told my hunter I would circle around to find the small group again. I saw them and motioned him over. This time, I clearly saw about a 2.5 year old doe, that was obviously not pregnant. She was very trim, and there was some tarsal gland staining indicating she was probably not pregnant.

"OK, this looks like it". The hunter snuck up behind me, slowly raising the gun into position. The doe did not spook, and instead went back to feedeing, when we stopped moving. By this time, we were within 30 yards, and amazed we had gotten so close. I was wearing jeans and a gray sweatshirt, but moving so slowly the deer didn't know we were anything other than trees. I heard the safety slip to the off position, and then a crack. The deer lurched forwad, and ran in a circle, then slid to a stop, about 30 yards away.

High five.....we had not done this in a while and it really felt good. This is the old fashioned way, and yes, we still do it in Texas. But, rest assured, it is alot harder to identify the animals we are trying to selectively cull out when on the ground.



Pic added. Deer out on the shooting range. Don't believe anyone that tells you shooting always scares deer out of an area. Those targets had been hammered all day the afternoon before this was taken.

Link Posted: 2/16/2012 3:39:40 PM EDT
Great post.

We bumped up to MLD 2 this past year. Hopefully will be 3 in another year or two.
Link Posted: 2/16/2012 3:55:13 PM EDT
Originally Posted By the_ak_kid:
Great post.

We bumped up to MLD 2 this past year. Hopefully will be 3 in another year or two.

Thank you

I really enjoy being part of such a successful program in Texas. At this point, raising these deer, and watching some of the young bucks walk to live and reach breeding potential, i just as gratifying as shooting them.
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