The state of Texas holds what are known as draw hunts. These hunts are by lottery drawing and are mainly management hunts. In 2003, Richard and I went on a management hunt at the Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area. After the 5:30 am meeting with the Game Wardens we were assigned our area and off we went. After finding a place to park the truck I set out the map and took a compass reading then walked into the woods. Richard did the same.
I followed a creek for a while when I came upon a likely trail that headed into the center of our area and off I went. After about thirty minutes of stalking, the trail opened up into a clearing that was about 80 yards across. I picked a tree on the edge of the clearing that gave the best field of view. Once seated against the tree I waited for the deer. The sun was on my right side with the temperature in the low 50’s and a light wind in my face. It didn’t take long before I was in the middle of one of the best naps of my life.
Soon afterward I felt like something was looking at me. I slowly opened my eyes but saw nothing. Then slowly turning my head to the left I saw a buck about ten feet away staring at me. He stood motionless as our eyes met. In that instant my mouth went dry, my heart was pounding in my throat and my palms were wet with sweat. Neither of us moved. Ever so slowly my right hand inched its way to the 44 magnum handgun on my left hip. When my fingers felt the cold grips of the handgun, Mr. Buck cocked his head to the right and with an “up yours” look on his face, took off. He made it to the opposite side of the clearing before I could “skin that smoke wagon”. It was a surreal meeting and is one of the highest points of my hunting life.
After catching my breath I looked at the compass, got my heading, and off I went to the truck. I kept glancing at the compass but my head was filled with meeting Mr. Buck. After about 20 minutes of walking, I started to question my direction. Yes, I looked at the map and then talked myself out of the direction I was going. That was a mistake. I did make it back to the truck after an hour and about 2.5 miles of extra walking.
I did shoot a nice old doe on the trip. I also learned that my dead reckoning skills were not what they use to be. The next weekend I bought my first GPS. Haven’t been lost since. Have a safe hunting season!