|The first weekend of the
public hunt at the Aransas NWR is over, and the weather
conditions made for difficult hunting, and sleeping!
I picked up Jason in Stafford on Friday after work, and
he and I made the 4-plus hour trip to Hoppers Landing in
my pickup. I had been experiencing problems with the
alternator and A/C unit the previous few weeks, but
after changing the alternator last Sunday, I felt like
we could make the trip without replacing the A/C
compressor, as I had determined that it was simply a bad
bearing in the clutch. We arrived without any
difficulty, save missing our road, Hwy 239, and ending
up in Refugio. It didn't cost us too much time, as Hwy
774 offered a straight shot from Refugio to the refuge.
We arrived at Hoppers Landing at around 9pm. I was
amazed at the number of campers and tents circled around
one another just off the bay. It looked like a
little tent city! We drove around to the back side
of the group and located Paul's and Martin's pickups.
We knew we were at the right place. Everybody was
gathered around the Team Showboat canopy trying to seek
shelter from the wind. After a brief round of
introductions to Wayne, Tom, Kevin, Kavin, Curtis, Mark
and a host of others, we set out to erect our tent. Jason
had brought his big cabin tent in which Martin, Jason
and I were going to spend the weekend.
Unfortunately, he had left the poles at his apartment!
I had brought my 3 man dome tent as a backup, so we
weren't completely left out in the cold! We
managed to get it set up and tied down in the strong,
whipping wind. It was a tight fit for the three of
us, but we managed and slept relatively well,
considering the tent was noisily flapping in the wind.
We awoke at 4:30 on Saturday morning. As I
tried to start my pickup, the engine began smoking!
I shut it down and Kavin Vann pointed out that the A/C
clutch and pulley had frozen and would not turn!
Jason, I headed out with Paul to an area near Paul that
he had scouted for us the day before. Jason had
also forgotten his permit, so he opted to sit in an ICE
Blind with me and hold the camera while I hunted.
Paul showed us our location, which was on the way to his
blind, and we quickly set up the ICE Blind.
|| The wind was
still kicking up pretty hard, and the ICE Blind offered
some protection. It was still an hour before
daylight when we settled in, so Jason took a little
siesta in the blind! When it finally got daylight, we
sat for several hours without any activity. When
Jason finally awoke from his nap, I decided to put him
on post while I checked the opaqueness of my new
TexasBowhunter.com/Brush Country camouflage cap!
Imagine my surprise when I started reviewing the tape to
see that he had taken the liberty to do some filming for
the sake of the hunt!
Finally, at about 10 am, we decided to get out of the
blind and take a look around the area, since we had not
yet seen any of the refuge in the daylight.
| As we
were exiting the tent, we heard the sound of something
moving in the brush. I grabbed my bow and exited
the tent, and soon identified the sound to be hogs!
They had not yet detected us, so I moved off in the
direction they were heading.
I spotted a couple of the hogs as they moved off, but
they never presented a shot opportunity in the thick,
heavy brush. Paul came back by shortly after and
we headed back to camp. Paul had seen a number of
hogs, but elected not to shoot so as not to have to drag
them back to the truck!
We returned to camp after a short stop to get Jason a
reissued permit, which was permit number 492 for the
hunt! The number of tents that littered (literally
with the winds) was astounding.
Martin drove me into
Victoria to look for a new clutch/pulley assembly for my
pickup, and to re-string his bow, which had been
partially sliced by a loose broadhead in his bow case!
Thanks to Jack Thatcher at South Texas Archery for
getting him fixed up with a new string, and for not
charging Martin the normal labor charge for installing
the string and peep! I also picked up a Third Hand
bow holder for my ICE Blind. Unfortunately, we
were unable to find the part, and could only locate the
entire a/c compressor with the clutch. We decided
to wait until Monday so we could check with the local GM
dealer to see if they had the part in stock. The
difference between a $40 part and a $300 part made it
worth making the 50 minute drive back to town in hopes
that they would have it!
When we got back to camp, Kavin, Debi and their kids
were ready to make the trip back to the refuge.
Most of the Showboat boys, and Paul and Jason, had
decided that the wind was too strong to allow for much
deer movement, and were not going to make the afternoon
hunt. I didn't figure we'd have much luck hunting
in the wind and rain, so Martin and I decided to spend
some time at the refuge scouting for locations for
Sunday and Monday. We went to his stand location
and hung a Swivel Limb in the tree next to his Strong
Built chain-on. Because it was not a straight
tree, the chain-on stand was not level and made for an
uncomfortable morning's hunt. We identified
a couple of other promising areas, and then hung another
Swivel Limb in a tree overlooking a pipeline. It
was the same pipeline on which Paul had placed his
Gametamer Quadpod, and was only about 75 yards from his
stand, but we felt it was a bit better setup.
||The wind and rain had intensified by the time we got
back to our temporary home at Hoppers, and everything
inside the tent was wet. Team Showboat was
gathered around their campfire under a shelter telling
hunting stories from past hunts and keeping their
insides warm with a round of Tequilla!
Because the tent was wet, I decided to sleep in the
cab of my pickup. Curtis invited Jason to stay
inside his tent, while Martin found a dry spot inside
the dome tent to sleep on Casey's cot that I had
We held high hopes that the wind would let up by Day
2, but as you'll soon see, it only got worse. Keep
checking in, though, because the hunt is not without
adventure. . . and success!