I ejected the empty .300 H&H Mag Hornady case from my Ruger No. 1 and turned toward my guide. “Looks like that third shot cut the hole of the first two, making your group appear as an ace of clubs. Had heard single-shots weren’t supposed to be that accurate! You proved that wrong!” said Cody Mohler with a smile. He continued while I gathered empty brass and placed my rifle topped with a TrackingPoint scope in its soft-case. “If you can shoot like that when we find a deer, there’s a good whitetail in your future!”
“If it’s OK with you, I think the rest of this afternoon we’ll do a bit of scouting. Want to show you some set-ups we’ll plan to hunt. We also can build ground blinds if you see a place you would like to do so. We’ve got several remote food plots where we’ve been seeing some really good bucks. But there are a couple bucks in particular I’d really like us to look for, if you don’t mind. One is huge ten-point that will go at right at 200 and the other is one I saw before the season opened, but have not seen since. He’s a typical 12 with one really long brow-tine. He should go well over 200 as well.” Cody, who is the wildlife/big game hunt manager for Greystone Castle, went on to explain the rut was nearly over but some bucks were still chasing. He knew I loved rattling and suggested we might also try hitting horns together during the next several days I would be “in camp”!
Upon our arrival from a Kansas whitetail hunt to the ranch near Strawn, Texas my cameraman and I had stowed our gear in the ‘castle” which is truly built like a “castle of yore” but with unbelievable plush and comfortable “amenities”. Now settled in, rifle confirmed, we were ready to do a bit of exploring and scouting.
Although I had long known of Greystone Castle’s excellent big game hunting, fabulous upland game bird and duck hunting, as well as world-class sporting clay course I had never hunted the expansive property. I had been to Greystone several times in the past to assist in the Dallas Safari Club’s S.A.F.E.T.Y. event where many young people and a parent or guardian have been introduced into shooting, firearms and archery. Those events were always fun and rewarding.
My primary goal of our invasion of Greystone Castle was to film a whitetail deer hunt for our “DSC’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” television show which airs year around on Pursuit Channel. But I also wanted to get a feeling for the upland game bird hunting and sporting clay course. Two friends, Dr. Richard Allen, a past DSC president and occasional hunting partner, and Billy Shoemaker, a dear friend of several years had encouraged me to bring my Ruger Red Label 20-gauge. Both would be on Greystone Castle the same time I was going to be there. Richard, guides both deer and bird hunters on Greystone, had told me bird shooting opportunities were nothing short of fantastic. Billy, a fabulous shotgun shooter, had told me not only about the bird shooting, but also the sporting clay course.
While I enjoy shooting shotguns, I am not what some would label a “legitimate shotgun shooter”. I seldom fire more than a box of shotgun shells a year. But I had a feeling with Richard’s and Billy’s assistance I could at least “make a showing”, if nothing else than with an empty box of shells.
“If it’s OK with you we’ll wait on the shotgun games until after you take a good whitetail!” suggested Cody. Sounded like a good plan to me.
That afternoon we indeed did some scouting and locating of places we wanted to try to rattle, or possibly sit and watch. Back at camp, a truly delicious evening meal and I headed to bed in anticipation of the morrow beginning well before daylight and it being a long day.
Before there was even a crack in the breaking of dawn we were secreted behind brush seated next to a huge oak overlooking creek bottom and part of a food plot. Darkness turned to graying light to reveal three does, two fawns and three bucks. Short of shooting light arrival the three bucks disappeared into underbrush. We stayed seated next to the big oak for another two hours and saw eight more bucks and several does and fawns. When deer movement slowed we headed out to try our hand at rattling.
We set up three different places and rattled in bucks at two of them, but nothing of advanced age. Still, it was great fun regardless of the age and size of bucks which responded.
A quick delicious lunch, then mid-day we headed into the higher back country of the property, a series of tall hills and deep valleys. I really wanted to see as much of Greystone Castle’s vast acreage as possible during my hunt. Driving through great looking deer habitat we saw several whitetails, including driving up on one buck chasing a doe. He was truly interesting! He was likely a four-year old with massive, long beams, twelve long typical points with a four-inch drop-tine off the right main beam, and six additional “kickers”. To say the buck’s rack was impressive would have been an understatement! However, he was about two years too young. “We do our best not to take bucks less than six-years old.” Commented Cody as we drove away.
Later that afternoon we set up near a food plot where we could again watch part of the field, but also a fairly open bottom. Before dark we saw quite a few deer, including some truly impressive bucks, but Cody informed me none were the two specific deer he hoped could possibly see.
Next morning, we headed to a new area. “Occasionally the bucks on the property go to roaming. The buck I’d like to see us find was seen on the east side of the ranch last year about this time. He stayed in the area a couple of days then disappeared. We did not see him again until just before the season opened this year. Saw him one afternoon on the other side of the ranch then he disappeared again.”
We stopped a quarter mile shy of where the buck Cody mentioned had been previously seen. Wind in our face we moved slowly toward what my guide had described as a food plot near a waterhole. Keeping some brush in front of us we eased to the food plot’s edge. Several deer were feeding on the far side. A quick look through binoculars revealed young bucks, does and fawns. We backed off of the edge and “worked” our way toward the western side of the food plot and the pond which even at a distance, I could tell was surrounded by cattails.
We had scarcely gotten to where I could see the back side of the pond. Something looked like a bush with many branches protruded out of the cattails. I started to dismiss it simply as a bush, when it moved. Up came the binos. “Buck! It’s him! The one we have been looking for, the typical twelve with the one really long brow-tine.” Hastily I set up my shooting sticks. But by the time I did he had lowered his head and disappeared.
We stayed and watched for him to reappear for the next thirty minutes then finally decided he had kept his head down and made good his escape.
Looking around we found a place where we could construct a ground blind for the afternoon’s hunt. In doing so we hoped the buck would stay in the area and come back to feed in the food plot that evening, and if not today, hopefully the next.
On our way back to camp we stopped four times to rattle but did not have any bucks respond in spite of our best efforts. Back to the Castle for a delicious lunch and we headed back to the hunt.
We set up in our brush, ground blind where we could see both the pond and the food plot. Deer started trickling into the field within minutes of our arrival. First came does and fawns, followed by younger bucks. On the horizon we could see the approaching “blue norther”. Obviously the deer could feel the approaching cold front and were trying to fill their rumens.
As the afternoon dragged on, bigger bucks started showing up, including four which I dearly wished I had seen the week before hunting in Kansas. I was admiring one particular long-tine typical ten-point when I spotted movement far beyond the deer which had fed their way to within less than fifty yards of where we were hidden. His rack was massive and tall. He stopped looked left and right. As he did I could see he had twelve typical points with at least one kicker. Too, his right brow-tine looked like it could easily be eighteen inches long.
Beside me I heard Cody whisper, “It’s him…”
My .300 H&H Mag Ruger Number 1 was rested and pointed in the buck’s direction. Slowly I raised to get into shooting position. I slid the safety to fire, but kept finger off of trigger. I waited and watched. The buck was extremely long-tined and handsome. But at the moment he faced me offering less than ideal shot placement. I waited, keeping an eye on him but also three does that were now within less than twenty-five yards of us. One of the does suddenly jerked up her head and stared right at us. The buck turned essentially broadside. When he did, I locked my crosshairs on his shoulder and gently pulled the trigger. He was down before I could reload. But I did and watched for any movement.
Beside me I heard Cody offer congratulations. After making certain the buck was dead I turned to accept his extended hand. Moments later we walked to where my deer lay. He was huge of antler. After the appropriate photos we took my deer to the ranch’s cooler where we would store it to make certain the soon to be delicious venison was properly taken care of
That night there was a bit of a celebration in camp! But before embers turned to ashes, we planned the morrow’s shotgun schedule, phase two of my Greystone Castle invasion.