Our first hunter, a guy I'll call Mike-Mike, along with his son and dad represent the future of hunting in Texas, in letter, law and spirit. Our second hunter, we'll call T-Bone, although very knowledgeable and extremely field-savvy and proficient – represents past hunting philosophy. Both parties are passionate about hunting. Both can tell you anything and everything about equipment, habits of ducks, deer, turkeys, squirrels and feral hogs. Both are Texas hunters and both are actually a mixture of many people, whom many of us will recognize.
Some of my old ways are mentioned here and maybe you will see yourself also.
Mike-Mike, or MM is a .243 Winchester guy, while T-Bone goes with the .378 Weatherby Magnum. Mike is a finesse hunter, constantly honing shooting skills and in his own words has "never lost a deer" to the smaller cartridge. T-Bone is a hemi-powered raw horsepower shooter – he likes to send lead downstream and dang the torpedoes…the more the merrier. MM always acquires the proper licenses and permissions, while TB has an extensive history of violating game laws.
MM is what the Texas Hunter Education program defines as a 'True Sportsman'. T-Bone at one time was fined seventeen thousand dollars for poaching wood ducks, but ended up getting a reduced sentence for "connections and good behavior". He also shot a mute swan (along with other federal and State-restricted crawling, running, swimming and flying animals), was apprehended and released by a State Game Warden due to certain questionable extenuating circumstances.
TB, as we'll call him is in my opinion still in the adolescent development stage of hunting, the one the State Hunter Education class defines as the 'shooting stage'. He likes to fire his guns - a lot. The more he fires his weapon, the better time he has. Back when I first met him, we decided to do a handgun swap. I traded him a Ruger Blackhawk .41 Magnum revolver for a Ruger .45 ACP pistol. It was a good trade and both of us exchanged a certain amount of ammunition and I got a spare ammo clip also.
A few days passed and I asked TB if he had had time to fire the revolver and check out the box of fifty custom hand-loaded for this gun ammunition, which were quite stiff by the way. He, to my surprise, remarked that on his way home from work, shot holes in every road sign he saw, firing the large bore magnum revolver out the window of his ¾ ton 4X4 truck. In shock, I blurted out "you shot them-there hot rounds one-handed?" for lack of a better response and in my best Southern accent.
Mike-Mike and family never stop hunting something or preparing for the next hunt. They go from one season to the next planting oats and winter wheat, building and testing their deer/duck/hog stands meticulously checking for the latest sign of activity and when game is harvested, they render all of it themselves, wasting nothing usable, making sausage, steaks and ribs. It's a family affair and they very much enjoy their time together pursuing this Texas sport.
MM is also a practiced marksman and he takes pride in making sure every shot counts. One day recently a yarn was spun in the breakroom that does MM justice.
"Flicking the four-inch long and angry red scorpion off his Tony Lama alligator boot, MM takes bead on a distant 250# feral hog and fires off one well-placed custom-loaded 85 grain Sierra boattail bullet. The round makes it's way down wind, easily dispatches the hog and then successfully takes down a 12 point buck deer standing behind it, but before the deer has dropped painlessly in it's tracks, the venerable bullet turns on a rib and takes out two quail, which both drop two eggs a piece and before all energy is lost, snuffs a cottontail rabbit.
Mike-Mike waits the prescribed thirty minutes and appreciating the instant and humane dispatch of his game animals, gently places the four fertile quail eggs in a small soft bag with the intention of placing the eggs into the nest of another quail hen he has observed. MM has no trouble waiting the thirty minutes, as he is a patient man and he passes the time easily watching two yearling deer play on the other side of the fenceline of the neighboring ranch, which he has no intention of hunting".
After dressing his game and arriving back at camp, he listens as T-Bone explains that he "doe-popped" a ki-o-tee, a bobcat, 3 hawgs (which he left lay because they were probably boars and most likely a tad gamey), two jack-o-rabbits, a dirty old crow, three buzzards (he hates buzzards and likens them to women who plunder men's wallets), an egg-eatin' fox and all this after he bagged an irresistible (what he figures is) 14-point buck deer that was "a good 350-yard shot". Oh, by the way he laughs and says the .378 Weatherby Magnum flat exploded most of this smaller game, so he didn't bother to bring any of it back.
TB would have been back at the camp earlier he explains, but he had to cross two fence lines and the owner of that other property hadn't left for town yet. Did MM want to help him go look for it before the ranch owner came back? They needed to hurry so TB could restock his beer cooler and get more ammo for the evening hunt, since he had went through three boxes already.
I've personally witnessed most of this behavior over the years from numerous hunters and only a bit of this column actually relates to MM and TB, but the bottom line is this: If you love hunting, regardless of your age, seek out a Hunter Education Instructor, take the State course and learn to love the proper way to use the freedoms and resources available to us as Texans.
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