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One last deer hunt for the season—part 1

Oh, stop pouting. I know it wasn’t your fault. First there was that branch covering the big buck’s vitals in early bow season. You convinced yourself you could get an arrow through, but down deep, you knew better.

Then you had to cut your big rut-hunting plans short when those job and family obligations collided all at once. At least you can be proud you have your priorities straight.

Then when you had that big one in your sights on the gun season opener and the wind shifted and he bolted just as you snicked off the safety. Well, such situations are really hard to take. But that’s hunting.

It sure hurt to hear Christmas music and watch snow fall with those unfilled deer tags still in your pack. But moping around isn’t going to solve anything. Now’s the time to pull yourself up by the proverbial bootstraps and get ’er done. Let’s go kill a buck!

It’s easy to think it’s over, but in reality, now, right now, is one of the best times to fill your tag with a good buck. I have a favorite strategy for late-season success — road trip! I use two different approaches: Taking a trip to a Texas ranch where hunting is in its prime now is always a super option, and taking up with an outfitter in the north where he’s finally got a big one patterned can be hard to beat. Let’s look at each more closely and plan our hunt.

Texas Ranch Hunting

I’ve been fortunate to make several late-season whitetail trips to Texas. The beauty of hunting Texas in December or January is that it really isn’t late season here at all — it’s prime time! This, combined with the beautiful weather, the excitement of doing something new and different, and the quality of the bucks make these trips great.

There are two types of Texas ranch hunting. There are the high-end, more expensive “luxury” ranches, and then there are the more economical, less fancy places.

Most hunters are likely to gravitate toward a place like Pete Denny’s Brushy Hill Ranch. West of San Antonio near Sabinal, the ranch consists of almost 13,000 acres of great whitetail hunting, bowhunting only — and is one of the biggest such concessions in the world. Hunting is mostly over feeders and “grained” roads. Pete feeds deer by spreading corn over 50 miles of road each day, 365 days a year.

“What we have is pretty much do-it-yourself hunting, which the guys seem to prefer, and it keeps the rates reasonable,” Pete says. “We assist with keeping track of where the deer are moving, and then we’ll give each guy or each party a pasture of their own to hunt, and they can have at it.”

One hunter who is very happy with the arrangements is Randy Cotherman, who got to his stand in the early afternoon one mild December day and was immediately greeted by a huge whitetail coming to his grained section of road. Despite the intense excitement, Randy drew and made the shot, and came home with one of Brushy Hills Ranch’s best trophies ever — a 168-inch whitetail.

Maybe best of all is that while that buck would have cost an extra $5,000 on most operations, it didn’t cost Randy a penny extra, because there are no trophy fees here. The only fee is if you shoot one smaller than the minimum. Otherwise, hunting is a very reasonable $140 a day. For more info, visit www.brushyhill.com.

Stay tuned for Part II: Midwestern Guided Hunts!

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