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Live Hunt Details

Michael Middleton

Encinal, Texas

    November 22-25, 2001

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Thanksgiving 2001: Encinal


After a successful trip to Cotulla last weekend that found Casey and me with what are currently the two largest does entered in the archery division of the Los Cazadores deer contest and Les with a nice sized sow and a shot at yet another hog, I was ready to return for a long, Thanksgiving weekend hunt at our Encinal ranch.  In between, however, I had to make a trip to New Orleans for business from Sunday night through Tuesday night and then suffer through a long day of work on Wednesday.  Finally, with my work complete, the family loaded up and drove to meet my parents at their Kinney County lease west of Uvalde.   Each Thanksgiving the family members of the men on the lease get together for a big Thanksgiving feast. 

We decided not to hunt Thursday morning, and instead spent time working on feeders and visiting with family and friends until the big afternoon feast.  It was a perfect day in a gorgeous location!  After dinner, the girls and I loaded back up and made the two hour trip to Encinal, followed by my brother, Martin. 

We arrived just a few minutes before dark and decided to make the most of the remaining light driving around looking for deer.  It didn't take us long to spot a couple of very nice bucks as we entered the ranch.  It didn't take long for darkness to settle, so we unloaded our gear at the cabin and ate a quick dinner.  I went back out and set up my Brush Country Camouflaged ICE Blind in a spot where we have traditionally seen some big bucks.  It was not far from where I shot the 143" buck in 1999, and it is also where my brother, Mark, saw a nice 5 X 7 monster at the end of last season.  I then returned to the cabin to get Martin and then we headed back out to set up a Swivel Limb that I had borrowed from Casey.  We set it up in a Mesquite tree on "Highline Road" overlooking a feeder.  It was at this feeder where I videoed a couple of nice bucks on last season's Live Hunts.

Seeing the bucks earlier in the evening, coupled with the feeling that my ICE Blind was well concealed in the brush, I was even more excited than usual about the prospects for this weekend's action!  I had difficulty sleeping on Thursday night as I woke frequently to check the feeder behind the house and watch the deer that were feeding around it all night!  I couldn't wait for my alarm clock to go off!  At one point, I considered going out to my ICE Blind and sleeping there until daylight! 

Finally, the alarm sounded!  I showered and then dressed in my Brush Country Henley T-Shirt and six pocket pants.  I gathered my gear and made my way out to the ICE Blind.  The blind offered two shooting lanes, both offering 10 - 20 yard shots.  I set up my video camera low in one window opening.  I've found that with the video camera, mounted on a tripod, as low as it will go in the shooting window, I can get great footage of shots by shooting over the camera. 

The Brush Country camo pattern on the blind blended in perfectly with the yaupon and mesquite vegetation that it was up against.  I also cut additional yaupon branches and covered the front of the blind, making it nearly undetectible, even to the human eye!  Evidence of that came when, after seeing an obviously startled cow trot by, I heard something coming toward me in the brush across the road.   Moments later I saw a human figure appear from the brush directly in front of me!  Then there was a second, followed by a third, fourth and fifth!  I remained motionless as the leader of the aliens looked down one side of the road, then the other before turning and heading north on the road, completely unaware that I was watching them at less than fifteen yards! 

 I didn't see much else, but at about 8 am I had a couple of does work their way in, followed closely by a young nine pointer.  I filmed for a while, then drew and placed my pin on the buck's vitals, made a mental "thwap" in my head and then let down to let the buck continue feeding.  

.I had hoped a bigger buck would show, but alas it never did and the deer eventually wandered off.  Still, a great beginning to a great hunt!