YMCA Roberts Ranch

The YMCA Roberts Ranch, near Comfort, TX, was donated to the YMCA by Bob Roberts in 1990.  The Y has been letting TYHP go on hunts out there for years.  It took about 2 hours for us to get to the DQ in Comfort, which was where we were meeting up.  There were only about six people this time, I think.  I slurped on a Blizzard while we waited for everyone to show up.

Once everyone was there, we went around to the back of the Dairy Queen and filled up our coolers with ice.  Then, we headed on.  It wasn’t too long of a drive to the entrance of the ranch, but it took equally long to get from there to the shooting range.

I didn’t have to shoot because I had already been on three other TYHP big game hunts and harvested five deer with them, and I had brought a target showing that I could do it.  So I waited while my nine-year-old brother shot, who had finally joined TYHP.  Then, we drove up to a pavilion and set up our tent near it.

It was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL place.  There wasn’t all that much cedar, unlike most of the rest of Texas.  As we drove, almost all we saw was oaks– live oaks, burl oaks, red oaks– and pecans.  There was some cedar, of course, but not very much at all.

When we drove past a small creek, we saw a GIANT rock that must’ve fallen from a cliff up the hill it rested at the base of.  Supposedly, that was where armed forces met before the Battle of the Alamo as a rendezvous point.  After that, they went to support the troops at the Alamo, but got there too late to find the place already in ruins.  At least that’s the story.

The small creek turned into a larger creek, but dried up, leaving a bed of rocks with sycamores growing all around it.  Again, we didn’t see much or any cedar.

It took a while for us to get everything set up.  Then, we went to the pavilion and had chili for dinner.  I also had a couple cookies.

We went over the usual– where to shoot the deer (heart and lung), don’t take head shots unless it’s a hog, etc. etc.  We could shoot whitetail bucks with six points or more, hogs, and– this was the really cool thing– aoudad (a.k.a. Barbary sheep).  The reason this was so cool is because you could very easily find yourself paying $1500 for an aoudad hunt.  This hunt cost $150.

We went to bed a a relatively early time compared to the rest of our hunts.  It took me a while to get to sleep, and boy, was it a long night.

Finally, morning arrived.  I woke up before my dad’s alarm went off and got dressed.  When his alarm went off, I was pretty much up and out.

There were Poptarts and cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  I only ate half a cinnamon roll.  My brother and I had to leave early to get to the stand since ours was farther away.

We dropped off my dad and brother first, and then me and my mom got out.  We put our stuff in the stand and settled down.

By the time there was light enough to see the feeder, the wind was blowing hard, it was drizzling, and it was cold.  I mean, it was only about 45 degrees, but with the wind chill and humidity, it felt below freezing, easy.

Then, three bucks came in.  They had given us a bag of corn to spread around, but I had refrained from doing that.  I was shooting off of it instead.  I pushed the rifle forward a little and got on the scope.  Scanning the bucks quickly, I saw that one of them had a significantly larger body than the others, and it looked like it had 8 points.  I was planning on shooting that one, but first I had to make absolutely sure it was 6 points or more, and I wanted to check that it really was better than the others.

But they didn’t like there being that much wind.  They left.

I was disappointed until I saw that one of them had stayed behind.  I checked its antlers.  It looked like six points to me.  I spent a while looking at him, making sure he had six.

When I was finally convinced he wasn’t too small, I flicked the safety off.  I took aim at the spot behind his shoulder.

It was a younger buck than the other two, which is probably why it had stayed behind.  But it didn’t like the wind either.  It didn’t leave, but it wouldn’t sit still either.

It walked around for a long time, feeding here and there, but eventually, it must’ve decided it had had enough of the blasting wind.  It followed the path the other two bucks had taken and went out of sight.

Some people might’ve been really disappointed about this.  I probably would have, too, under different circumstances.

However, I knew that the feeder went off at 7 AM.  It was somewhere around 6:30.  When deer have been eating at a feeder for a while, they get used to the rattling noise of the feeder going off meaning food.  So when they hear that noise, they come in to the feeder.

Sure enough, just a few minutes after the feeder goes off, guess who’s back.  I watched him for a second to make sure he was the same six-point, and then I put my crosshairs on him for the second time.  He just wouldn’t give me broadside.  He walked around for about ten minutes.  The wind was howling.  It blew so hard the blind door opened with a loud BANG, but the buck stayed.  My eyes were streaming from the wind right in my face, like on a roller coaster, but I stayed on the scope as the buck finally turned broadside and I pulled the trigger.

The gun roared, the buck jumped and ran out of sight.  As usual, I was shaking with adrenaline.  But I couldn’t see the buck.  I had no idea what had happened.

So I resolved to wait thirty minutes, which is the minimum amount of time some people say you should wait, before going to look for him.  This way, if I hadn’t made a great shot, it would give the buck time to calm down and bleed out.

The half hour seemed more like a half month, but when the time was up, I didn’t go look for it.  I figured that would ruin my chances at getting anything else.  So I stayed in the blind.

Nothing else came to the feeder except for some cows.  I saw something black moving behind some trees, but that might’ve been a cow too.

At 9:30, I got out of the stand and we went to go look for the deer.

I was relieved when we found the first spot of blood on the ground.  It wasn’t hard to find and it was pretty near where the buck had been when I shot.  I looked around in a circle on the ground and saw the next one.  Another surge of relief.  Now we knew the direction he had gone, and that really was about half the difficulty.  Not really, but once you find that out, the rest of your work is cut out for you.

I started finding blood on these white rocks, lots and lots of it.  I think the rocks were limestone.  If so, thank you God for limestone, because if there hadn’t been those white rocks to highlight the blood, I would’ve had a much harder time finding the buck.  As it was, I saw the buck under a red oak.

He had fallen over while running downhill.  But there he was.  I went up and counted his antlers.  Seven!  There was a small point on one side that I hadn’t been able to see in my scope.  Well, better one extra than one less.

My brother got one too.  Turned out, it was also a seven point, we shot them within about 15 minutes of eachother, and they both weighed exactly the same, give or take a pound.  Wow.

By the time we finished cleaning the deer, it was past lunchtime.  We hurried back to camp, I scarfed down a sandwich, and we left again.

At this stand, there was a pile of attractant near the feeder.  We settled in and waited, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I decided it wouldn’t hurt to close them as long as I stayed awake.

It was after four when I woke up.  There was a buck at the feeder.  Of course, I couldn’t shoot it, because we were only allowed one, but it was just a forkhorn anyway.  So I had no regrets about taking the seven point.

At least, until I saw the next buck.

It was a beautiful ten point.  Okay.  Now I wished that stupid little worthless seven pointer hadn’t even showed up!

Well, no.  It was fine.  But the ten really was a great buck.

After a while, both deer left.  Eventually, a spike showed up.  Then the forkhorn came back, but the ten didn’t show up again.

The next morning, after seeing a total of zero hogs, we got into a new blind.

Pretty soon, guess who shows up?  The ten point!  That buck haunts my dreams, laughing at me and standing broadside at twenty yards, like, YOU CAN’T SHOOT ME, YOU CAN’T SHOOT ME!  HAHAHAHAHA!

Literally, he showed at about twenty yards.  That is just so easy.  That’s a shot I could make without a scope!

Nothing else showed up that morning except for a squirrel and a mouse in our blind.  But we did hear a Sika deer bugling.  Sika are bigger than whitetails, but smaller than elk.  Somewhere inbetween.  Their bugle noise sounds almost exactly like elk, though, which was cool.

After that, we got picked up and went back to camp.  We packed up our stuff and took a group picture.  At one point, I thought I saw a bunch of horses behind some trees, but I wasn’t sure.

Then the horses ran through camp.  There were big ones, small ones, and lots of them.  They just kinda ran through and stood around until a couple people chased them off.

That was it.  In the end, only one other guy got anything.  My brother and I got pretty lucky.

Edited Roberts