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Texas Side of Things-Nov. 11, 2022

published: November 11th 2022
by: Jim Banner
source: Southern Livestock Standard

As our preacher each year says, the opening weekend of deer season is when the great god of camouflage arises and calls all hunters to ascend to their hunting their blinds to worship and pray. Yep, the 2022-23 hunting season for deer has officially begun and although the weather conditions were excellent in the hill country on Saturday, I didn’t hear a lot of shooting so I’m guessing hunters didn’t see a lot this year due to a heavy acorn crop.

Deer hunting in the Texas hill country is a very big thing each year. Ever since I was a little boy, Llano County has always been known as the “Deer Capitol of Texas”, and they are very proud of it. You will see “Welcome Hunter” signs in all the small towns in the hill country along with “deer processing done here” and of course “deer corn sold here”. My dad and mom used to own a feed store in Burnet, Texas and my dad would always laugh when deer hunters would stop to buy deer corn. He would ask them, “Do you want to buy deer corn or regular corn?” And they would always ask, “What’s the difference?” His reply was, “If I sell you deer corn, you will have to pay the sales tax but for the regular corn you don’t.”

I have very fond memories of deer hunting growing up in the country. I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to go with my dad on opening day of the season. I also remember the first time I shot my first buck by myself. I was so proud and thought I was finally a grown up, although I was only five. On Sundays after church, I would leave the house about 1:30 in the afternoon and hunt until dark, waiting for the grandfather, monster buck I had visualized in my mind. Sure enough, one Sunday afternoon when I was about 10 years old, I was sitting in a tree stand with my trusty open sight Winchester 25/20. From out of nowhere, a group of does came running towards me, spooked by the neighbor honking his horn and calling his cows, and stopped about 30 yards from my tree blind. Then, a few minutes later, the buck of my dreams, the grandaddy buck of the area, arrived and joined the group of does right by my hiding spot. They were positioned behind me, and I needed to somehow turn around to get a shot at the big one. Picture this, I’m ten years old, on a wooden platform that was handmade, sitting in the top of a big live oak tree, shaking because I’m so nervous, and I need to turn around. I was wearing leather soled boots and when I turned rather slowly, the sole of the boots squeaked against the wood and one of the does heard it. Naturally, she looked up and began to run away along with the does and of course, the grandfather buck. Young and dumb, I immediately tried to take a shot at him running off but didn’t even get close. I broke down in tears and started my two mile walk back to the house, swearing that I would never hunt again. They say time heals everything and sure enough the next Sunday I was right back out there hunting for that big buck but I never saw him again.

Some of you might say that was a sad story and that young people should not be subjected to such cruelty as having to face disappointment or failure. What are you talking about? Hunting taught me independence, decision making, how to deal with failure, hurt, humility and disappointment. I learned to be patient, how to enjoy nature and most of all, it taught me to get up when I ‘m knocked down, dust off my seat and try again but even harder.

Deer hunting is not just about killing a deer, it’s about companionship, relaxing with friends, listening to the daily stories of what each other saw and of course, why the grandfather buck got away. But every now and then, we absolutely must kill a deer, if not for any other reason than to prove we actually went hunting. So, to all of you camouflaged, face painted owners of the latest UTV available who wake up at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning during deer season and 8 a.m. during the week…I salute you and may the great god of camouflage reward you with a trophy buck!

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