The Scouting Report

September 27, 2011

deer hunting scouting reportStand selection is a simple process on this old Texas ranch. First choice goes to any out-of-state hunter, followed by whoever traveled the longest distance, and finally, those who came up empty during last year’s opening-day hunt. My son, Micah, is a transplanted Texan who now practices law in Birmingham, AL. He got first choice based on the first two criteria. For his opening-morning hunt he chose North Weaver, and for his afternoon hunt, South Creek. Both of these stands have produced some good bucks in the past.

When it came my turn, I didn’t hesitate. I asked Micah if he’d mind me hunting South Creek in the morning, since he’d have it for the afternoon?

“Sure,” he said. “And get me a good scouting report while you’re there.”

The South Creek stand has an incredible view overlooking a pond, which happened to be full of noisy mallards this morning. Beyond the pond is an elevated feeder on a low hill which has heavy brush and unseen ravines behind it. The cedar and mesquite trees are full and green as is the lush grass and browse. And the parade started just before shooting light — two young does, then a fork-horn and a nice 6-point buck. (The ranch rules say all shooter bucks have to be 8 points or better.) For me, there are only two types of shooters: meat, or a wall-hanger. . .and nothing in between.

Two young 8-pointers playfully sparred in the edge of the brush. Neither were candidates for me this year. What was I thinking? I’m not a shooter! I’m a scout, so I’d better get to scouting for Micah. I started slowly scanning with my binoculars. Last year, I got just a glimpse of a monster buck here before he quickly disappeared in the roughs. Alex, my oldest, actually got him in the crosshairs, but made a mistake by turning his scope from 3X to 9X. True, he saw his heavy wide rack, but the feeder leg between them wasn’t so obvious. The clean hole through the steel feeder leg is visible through my binoculars right now.

So now I’m a scout, and scouts can relax, right? I finished my hot cup of coffee, and yes, lit up a cigar. That’s when he came from my left, trotting through the roughs with his head down. I lay the cigar down and picked up my 270 all in one instinctive motion.

Through my scope, I could see that his heavy wide rack is well outside the ears, but he wasn’t stopping and he was at the edge of the roughs. Is this just going to be another glimpse? I mouthed a grunt sound, but he continued. During my third loud grunt, he hesitated. It would be a quartering shot if at all. I squeezed off the shot and saw only smoke in my scope. Other deer bounded into the brush, but I didn’t see him. I know I didn’t see him go down, but neither did I see him run off.

A lone steer wandered up to the feeder. I figured I’d use him as a spotter. He wandered over to the spot, lowered his head and began to sniff the grass. When he looked across the pond at me, I knew he’d found my buck. As I scanned the high grass, I could now make out the buck’s left ear and heavy beam. Todd arrived to pick me up. When we looked at the buck, we both thought of Micah. Todd used his cell phone to snap a picture of the 9-point buck to send Micah.

Micah’s response: “Some scouting report!”