My daughter Rachael didnít get drawn for a youth hunt this year despite the number of applications I submitted so took to her to PK in hopes a standby slot was available on the antlerless/spike hunt. Got the park about 10:00 AM to find no one else had checked in yet. Only three of the kids that were drawn came through gate by the time James the biologist arrived about 10:40. He confirmed there was one Standby available which we got as we were the only ones there at 11:00.
Head to the maintenance building to meet the Rangers and other hunters including fellow THF member PKHunter's son & grandson. James started the hunt orientation at 12:00 where he covered the normal format, safety, rules and bag limits for the hunt and then had the kids drawn for blinds. The park rangers had everyone loaded up in their trucks heading to the blinds by 1:30. We drew blind #3 and were first group that was dropped off so settled in for the first sit of the hunt.
They had gotten some really nice, fully enclosed fiberglass blinds with sliding glass windows from one of the ranches TPWD had recently purchase but we could only shoot out of the front window as the other 3 were taped closed. With temperatures in the low 70s it was a short-sleeves afternoon. We hadnít seen anything when we heard the first shots down the line about 5:15. Finally about 5:40 I see a 3 does coming in from behind us out the small window in door so have her really but we end up bumping the side of the blind with the gun which make them stop without give us a shot. After a couple of long minutes they finally move into an opening which gave her a slight facing 50 yard shot on the lead doe. At the shot, I see the doe buck, tuck its tail and run off through some brush before losing sight but know it was hit hard.
Rach had broken her foot when playing soccer back in October but is still in a walking boot so since itís getting dark leave her in the blind so she doesnít step on a cactus while I go look the deer. Get to the spot where the deer was standing but donít see any blood and starting getting nervous as I start heading down the trail but see the white belly as soon I round a corner about 25 yards away. Rach put the 85 grain Sierra HPBT Game King in the right spot but the deer was quartering us a little more than expected and didnít exit. I later found a piece of the bullet jacket under the offside skin while cleaning the deer.
Another doe was taken by one of the boys which was his first deer. Itís still in the 60s with the front not expected to hit until the early AM so decide to skin / quarter ours so it can be put on ice before heading to town for the night.
Awoke to low 40s at the hotel on Saturday morning and was back in the same blind by 6:00. See movement at the corn pile a little after LST but itís still too dark to get a good look at the head gear. Watch it for another 10 minutes and can tell itís a buck but heís really nervous from the gusty wind so couldnít tell if was spike or a small 4 point so let him walk. Rain and sleet hit about 8:00 and really glad weíre in a nice enclosed blind as the temp is in the mid 30ís with a windchill of the low 20s. Donít see anything else when we are picked up at 10:00.
Another one of the boys takes a spike that morning and he and one that took the doe the night before leave. Eat some lunch and hang out with PKHunterís son/grandson at the maintenance building before heading out 2 new blinds that afternoon at 2:00 for the final sit of the hunt.
Itís still windy in the mid 30ís but not too bad in the blind however have to keep wiping the windows from the condensation. Hear the other group shoot about 5:00 and have a nice 8 point & 2 does come to the corn about 5:15. All 3 are standing together and have to wait from them to give us a shot. The bucks spooks but the 2 does stay and Rach drills one in the chest at about 80-90 Yards. It runs about 30 yards before I lost sight of it behind some cedars. Get to where she was standing and find a good blood trail to where it laying in the cedars.
I would like to thank James, Monty, Mike, Jeff and the rest of the park staff for hosting all of us and making this a very memorable hunt.