We just returned home from the best vacation/hunting trip EVER.
The back story; My wife Dee was injured in a car accident 8 months ago and was nearly taken from me. She broke her neck and her femur as well as 7 ribs. To say that this "changes" your perspective would be an understatement.
I am blessed to have a wife that shares (and supports) my love of time in the field. I started to take her hunting 4 years ago and have been by her side when she took her 1st animal and every animal since.
As I watched her push herself this past year on her road to recovery, I knew that if the good Lord would allow us to make our annual vacation to Texas, I was gonna do everything I could to make this something she would NEVER forget. I contacted Ryan Longer of Longer's Outdoors and got the wheels in motion for a Red Stag hunt.
On day 1 we met with Ryan and after a few minutes of catching up and getting unpacked we headed out for some scouting. It was hot outside, near mid day but we found a beautiful stag cooling in a wallow and the most impressive Sika buck that I personally have ever seen. We hunted hard the rest of the afternoon, seeing mostly whitetail, sika, fallow and catching "glimpses" of the elusive Red Deer.
That evening we retired to the lodge, had a good meal and relived the adventures of the day.
On day 2 we woke early and after a quick breakfast we headed out to hunt. Once again we seen several species of animals but struggled to find Red Deer. When we did find a stag it was a challenge to get a look at one much less make a shot. At one point we had a big stag at 200 yards but my wife just didn't feel comfortable with the shot and we let him vanish into the oaks. That afternoon as we grabbed a quick lunch I could tell my wife was getting discouraged. She had even said "honey why don't you just hunt and I will watch you". After assuring her that thing will work out and it is just a matter of time, we went out for the afternoon hunt. I had no way of knowing just how right I was. While we ate, Ryan was developing a "plan" for that afternoons effort. We got on a group of red deer with 4 beautiful stags and several cows. As Ryan worked with my wife to calm he down and assure her that he would not let her take a "bad" shot or push her to "try" a shot she was not comfortable with I watched nervously knowing this was a far more difficult en devour then any she had faced in her short hunting career. As I nervously watched through my binoculars I listened to Ryan Longer expertly work to calm Dee and ready her for a shot if it presented itself. We/she had picked a beautiful mature stag and she did AMAZING at both watching the massive animal and staying calm. I on the other hand, was a nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. After what seemed like hours (in truth about 50 minutes) two big bulls started fighting. One was our/her target stag. These big boys were not messing around and there was a little concern that one or both may break points off as we sat in the distance and watched. Fortunately both males tired before any damage was done and the big bull my wife had been wanting went to water to cool down. He laid belly down and we all knew that if we were going to be successful it would be when he stood and we would have a very short "window" before he was surrounded by hinds again. Ryan got Dee ready and assured her that if she was uncomfortable, just let it go and she will get another shot sooner or later.
After a few minutes the big stag stood and was ready to get back to the ladies. as he stepped out of the water and a lone hind passed between him and us he let out a mighty roar. Unaffected my wife watched as the hind cleared and she squeezed the trigger (MID ROAR!) and made a PERFECT 150 yard shot. To say the big stag was "hit hard" would be an understatement. He went 7 YARDS! I could not be more proud of her. After nearly a year of pain and struggle to see her be calm and determined for something other then recovery was an emotional moment for me.
Even now I don't think she realizes how sought after a mature Red Stag is to most of the hunting world.
If you are looking for the hunt/adventure of a LIFETIME contact Ryan Longer of Longers Outdoors. Not only will Ryan work hard to put you on a dream animal but he realizes that for most of us this is a vacation and he works hard to make sure that the time between hunts is special as well!
In our case the time after the hunt turned out to be "one for the record books" but the next two days is truly another story (and I will post it soon). For now this moment belongs to my beautiful wife.