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Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? #7259804 08/17/18 09:55 PM
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It looks like a lot of permits get given out to this area. Can anyone who has hunted there provide any information? How’s the hunting. Anything at all.

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7259978 08/18/18 01:04 AM
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There are some really nice deer and a few nilgai, though not as many as years past due to helicopter culling.

It is a hard hunt that will test your hunting skills. There are also a TON of other hunters to compete with. There is no assigned compartments, it's just a free for all, first come first serve on prime spots. No baiting at all. You must wear orange hat and vest.

The place is thick with ticks and chiggers, rattlers, Africanized bees, and everything has thorns.

Have fun!

BTW, if you want really good information on how it is, go take a look at the "green screen" in public hunting. Lot of folks there hit that hunt whenever they can.


"One cannot be a mediocre squirrel hunter, and at the same time a skillful deer hunter. The two techniques go together." Francis E. Sell
Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7259991 08/18/18 01:20 AM
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Any info on getting away from the other hunters?

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7260038 08/18/18 02:01 AM
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I got drawn for this archery hunt too. I have no clue about this area and it sounds like a very tough hunt. I am up for hunting together Thisisbeer if you are up for it. I am trying to read up on forums but they mentioned you can use bikes/hike miles on the dirt trails to get away from the crowds.

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Hunterwannabe] #7260048 08/18/18 02:12 AM
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I read about the bikes. Sounds pretty useful to maximize hunting times. What dates did you draw for? I wouldn’t mind tackling it with a fellow hunter.

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7260084 08/18/18 03:00 AM
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I drew for Nov 16th to 20th and yourself? The permit allows 1-4 hunters anyways, so we can technically go together on either of our permits if we drew different dates.

Last edited by Hunterwannabe; 08/18/18 03:01 AM.
Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7260093 08/18/18 03:15 AM
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I drew 12/7-11 archery this year. Hunted nilgai in January at atascosa for the first time and learned the hard way what I want to do this time.

Palehorse is pretty spot on. There were a ton of people and ya gotta get there early. I saw a bunch of deer but it was nilgai only. Just like any other public land the further back in you go the better.

This time I'll have a bike with a cart. There are really no trees so ground blind is it. I only got back in a mile carrying all my junk and blind.

I also had my wife, 9 yo son and father in law hunting. This time it's just me with a bow so I'd gladly hook up with other guys but I'm not up for any earlier than December due to snakes and ticks!

Be glad to talk with anyone who wants more info. It's a pretty cool hunt but it ain't easy even tho its coastal flat land.

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7260195 08/18/18 12:06 PM
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I didn’t know the permit allows anyone except who was drawn. I drew November 16th as well. Sounds like it could be a good idea for us to go in together. Especially if we go in deep and need to pack an animal out.

Thanks adkhunter. How deep can you realistically get into this park with a bike?

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Hunterwannabe] #7260230 08/18/18 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted By: Hunterwannabe
I drew for Nov 16th to 20th and yourself? The permit allows 1-4 hunters anyways, so we can technically go together on either of our permits if we drew different dates.


I sent you a PM.

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: adkhunter] #7260365 08/18/18 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted By: adkhunter
I drew 12/7-11 archery this year. Hunted nilgai in January at atascosa for the first time and learned the hard way what I want to do this time.

Palehorse is pretty spot on. There were a ton of people and ya gotta get there early. I saw a bunch of deer but it was nilgai only. Just like any other public land the further back in you go the better.

This time I'll have a bike with a cart. There are really no trees so ground blind is it. I only got back in a mile carrying all my junk and blind.

I also had my wife, 9 yo son and father in law hunting. This time it's just me with a bow so I'd gladly hook up with other guys but I'm not up for any earlier than December due to snakes and ticks!

Be glad to talk with anyone who wants more info. It's a pretty cool hunt but it ain't easy even tho its coastal flat land.


Can you help me out and tell me where the access spots on this hunt? I am looking at some maps but knowing where everyone has to enter would really help me get away from the crowd.

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7261002 08/19/18 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted By: Thisisbeer
Originally Posted By: adkhunter
I drew 12/7-11 archery this year. Hunted nilgai in January at atascosa for the first time and learned the hard way what I want to do this time.

Palehorse is pretty spot on. There were a ton of people and ya gotta get there early. I saw a bunch of deer but it was nilgai only. Just like any other public land the further back in you go the better.

This time I'll have a bike with a cart. There are really no trees so ground blind is it. I only got back in a mile carrying all my junk and blind.

I also had my wife, 9 yo son and father in law hunting. This time it's just me with a bow so I'd gladly hook up with other guys but I'm not up for any earlier than December due to snakes and ticks!

Be glad to talk with anyone who wants more info. It's a pretty cool hunt but it ain't easy even tho its coastal flat land.


Can you help me out and tell me where the access spots on this hunt? I am looking at some maps but knowing where everyone has to enter would really help me get away from the crowd.


Sure can. I'll dig out my stuff this afternoon and look at it. Bow hunts are different areas that are closed during regular gun hunts. They appear to be more desirable areas.

There is a piece that FM106 runs through that has a parking area and the rest you have to access from inside the NWR property and walk.

Unfortunately you cannot access the hunt areas from the county campground on the north end as that is where we stayed and will again this time.

As to a bike, if you have a mountain bike type you could easily ride all the roads in the park. Seems the staff travel them enough with ATV,s or truck that they are pretty clean two tracks.

It was dry in January and I could cross the whole place for the most part. The main laguna was full tho. Most of the channels shown were dry and I cut cross lots after getting my feel for the place. You can run them as most of the game does as well.

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7268886 08/27/18 05:11 PM
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Thisisbeer - The main access points I tried were at the end of "County Road" at the Last Gate Road intersection. Last Gate is a dead end. Also walked in Bobcat Road and saw a good amount of deer on the other side of the channel which was dry when i was there. Most of the Nilgai were in at the far west and NW side of the park due to lots of pressure. Area 6 was closed as was 1. I did walk in area 2 from the parking area on FM106 and saw lots of sign but no animals, there were some on the area 1 side but not hunt-able. Only made it about a mile in on that end.

This time I will have a bike and most likely go in Luttes Camp Road to the back side and also try area 6. If it's dry you can cover most of the area roads on a bike.

Lost of low scrub and some dense areas of thorn brush, no real trees of any sort.

Hope this is helpful.

Mike

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: adkhunter] #7268927 08/27/18 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted By: adkhunter
Thisisbeer - The main access points I tried were at the end of "County Road" at the Last Gate Road intersection. Last Gate is a dead end. Also walked in Bobcat Road and saw a good amount of deer on the other side of the channel which was dry when i was there. Most of the Nilgai were in at the far west and NW side of the park due to lots of pressure. Area 6 was closed as was 1. I did walk in area 2 from the parking area on FM106 and saw lots of sign but no animals, there were some on the area 1 side but not hunt-able. Only made it about a mile in on that end.

This time I will have a bike and most likely go in Luttes Camp Road to the back side and also try area 6. If it's dry you can cover most of the area roads on a bike.

Lost of low scrub and some dense areas of thorn brush, no real trees of any sort.

Hope this is helpful.

Mike



Did you come away with a deer during that hunt?

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7269716 08/28/18 11:50 AM
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No, my hunt was gun/exotic only so I couldn't shoot deer. I saw several that I could have taken though. Didn't see any nilgai but there were at least 2 taken that I know of and they were way back in Unit 3.

There was very heavy sign of both deer and nilgai throughout the park. I'm looking forward to my bow hunt this year as I have a better plan than I did last year. Really need to get back in very early and stay all day, also for the exotics find a scat pile and camp out in that general area. They seem to visit the same piles regularly.

Have heard that the Nilgai will not come near if you set up popup blind. There is plenty of brush to use as cover though.

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7269974 08/28/18 03:17 PM
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Ya Nilgai are weird in the fact they like to defecate in one area repeatedly. Thanks for the tips. Looking forward to it.

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7317871 10/17/18 08:39 PM
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I really would like to go after Nilgai on this hunt. Does anyone have an idea for the best way to get a Nilgai back out? Only in pieces right?

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7318043 10/17/18 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted By: Thisisbeer
I really would like to go after Nilgai on this hunt. Does anyone have an idea for the best way to get a Nilgai back out? Only in pieces right?

Yea. There are several videos on YouTube on gutless quartering of elk. Remember that you have to bring in the entire hide and head wrapped in a tarp for them to inspect for fever ticks.


"One cannot be a mediocre squirrel hunter, and at the same time a skillful deer hunter. The two techniques go together." Francis E. Sell
Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Palehorse] #7318450 10/18/18 01:16 PM
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That is my understanding. Also, it seems I have to carry everything out. The only thing I'm allowed to leave behind is the guts. I have to pull the carcass out.

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7318756 10/18/18 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted By: Thisisbeer
I really would like to go after Nilgai on this hunt. Does anyone have an idea for the best way to get a Nilgai back out? Only in pieces right?


Howdy!

I went last December on a rifle hunt and was fortunate to kill a young bull. I was by myself and mistakenly thought I was prepared for the work following the kill and learned some valuable lessons.

They have a very strong odor so if you smell an animal there is probably one close by upwind of you. Try to follow the scent and locate it.

If you kill one, have a couple of very sharp knives for processing it and have a way to sharpen them. The hide was 1/4 - 3/4" thick on mine and that is not an exaggeration. I recommend the gutless method of quartering like backcountry elk hunters do. Basically: skin the top side (I made similar cuts like I would skinning a whitetail) and remove the backstrap, quarters, tenderloin, and any other pieces of meat, flip animal over and repeat. When you're done the hide will be completely skinned off the carcass and the meat will be cooling down quickly. If you follow that method, lay it's neck straight out as soon as possible so the spine is straight and you can roll the animal over easier when you finish the first side.

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: HankTheTank] #7318836 10/18/18 06:59 PM
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So were you able to leave the carcass behind? Or was this kill somewhere else?

Last edited by Thisisbeer; 10/18/18 07:00 PM.
Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7318899 10/18/18 08:12 PM
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If you can get the animal back to one of the roads that run through the refuge the rangers will bring a truck in during lunch or after dark to get it out. There are various roads that run throughout the refuge. I am on this hunt also the last one in December. I am targeting whitetail personally. Been here a few times and Nilgai are pretty tough to get a shot on with a rifle let alone a bow.

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7318930 10/18/18 08:42 PM
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I’m definitely targeting whitetail. But I just wanted to be prepared. I would hate to have the opportunity at a Nilgai and pass it up because I haven’t thought everything through.

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7319375 10/19/18 04:06 AM
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This beer,
I hunted Archery "Exotic" a few years back as well as last year. I was in your shoes and was in full-on scratch my head, how-to, mode with a few items. I ended up hauling a "grocery-style" bike cart behind my bike. (carts rated for 100lbs). I added slime and tire liners to my bike & cart wheels. Some guys had game carts stashed in their trucks. I also use my old beater external frame pack to stage meat where my carts stashed. In there I carried a few game bags, skinner/boning knives, small sharpener etc. Per the hunt brochure, you can use a non-motorized cart, wagon or bike to haul it out. Also met one fella who stuck a hog on day #4, he had quarters hanging from his handlebars and pack as he walked his bike out. Per the orientation, (last year) you can quarter your nilgai out. Hide has to come out (to enable a sample taken by the ranger station folks). Tarp is needed to keep the hide sort of quarantined in your truck. Frozen x24hrs (in their reefer) if you want to keep the hide or have a shoulder mount. Any questions ya have, will probably be brought up at the orientation. If the park staff is unsure, the game warden was also there to make things crystal. Best of Luck!

Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: Thisisbeer] #7319676 10/19/18 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted By: Thisisbeer
So were you able to leave the carcass behind? Or was this kill somewhere else?


This was on the drawn rifle hunt at the Laguna Atascosa last December. I got the four quarters, backstraps, tenderloins, chuck roasts (neck meat - don't leave that behind, it makes awesome stew/chili), other cuts of meat, and the head out. The gut pile, skeleton, and most of the hide were left behind. The biologist was able to get samples needed from the head and skin left on two of the quarters.

Background on events of my hunt:
My focus was nilgai, but would take any opportunity presented at deer or hogs. Took external frame backpack and bike for getting in further and faster and meat out if successful. Cold, wet weather in upper 40s to low 50s thru Saturday morning, then mid 60s Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

Arrived Wednesday before the hunt and setup camp at Adolph park North of the refuge. Did orientation Thursday morning and scouted rest of day until sundown. *Mistake 1: spent too much time in non-prime areas and only scouted a small portion of areas I was interested in checking out.

Got up late Friday morning and biked in to first area. *Mistake 2: woke up late, cost me a prime hunting location. *Mistake 3: tried to bike off trail, wet weather turned ground into mud that caked tires and brakes and rendered bike unridable costing valuable hunting time by having to walk bike back to road and clear mud off. Finally arrived at desired hunt location to find other hunters' bikes there. Respectfully backed out and hunted area scouted the day before. Spooked several hogs and a nice dark, heavy antlered buck, but could not get a clean shot at any as they retreated into thick thornbrush. Left at sundown and talked to other hunters before leaving the refuge. Spoke to two guys who had three nilgai on the ground and got some good info on how to find and get a shot at one.

Side note: I feel these guys cheated the system because they were able to use an atv (with game cart attached) in area 5 due to "medical reasons". One of them supposedly had surgery to his foot or ankle and was still recovering; he was a local (and probably very familiar with the refuge and the ability to scout prior to any hunts starting, etc). Their tactic involved a lot of walking through thick brush and work that he would not have been able to do if he actually had mobility issues. Not only that, but he (the guy who was supposedly still recovering surgery) went in alone after dark to get their third nilgai loaded up and back out to the road while his partner waited at the truck with the two other nilgai on the ground. No way he could have done it alone with a busted ankle. The nilgai were gutted, but whole and not quartered out meaning the guy had to load several hundred pounds of dead weight on a game cart by himself, and had done it twice (for the 2nd and 3rd nilgai). All the evidence tells me his foot and ankle were more than capable and he/they didn't need the atv. Anyway, back to my hunt...

Saturday, got up early and went to a new area. Got in the spot I wanted to sit and realized I forgot my hunter orange at the car (*Mistake 4). Blew out the area going to get it and got back shortly after sunup. Sat two hours without seeing or hearing anything and decided to still hunt, making a large loop back to my stashed gear and have lunch before moving to a new area. Found some good sign along the way and decided to hunt the area that evening. It's now about noon and along the road a few hundred yards from completing the loop and getting my gear, I noticed two deer just off the road. I stepped aside to put gear down and get shooting stick out as they were about 150-200 yards out and I wasn't comfortable making the shot offhand with a fixed 4x scope, out of breath, exited, etc. As I start to step out and take aim, I hear a vehicle coming up behind me where I had just come from a few minutes earlier. I look up for the deer who are long gone and behind me comes a big quad cab Dodge. I stifled my frustration and found out it was a couple volunteers helping a pair of hunters get a nilgai bull out to their truck. Come to find out it was the hunters who's bikes were parked where I had initially wanted to hunt Friday morning. They had killed their second bull and had seen approximately 24 nilgai between Friday and Saturday afternoon and were gracious enough to tell me exactly where they had seen them.

Not sure if the animals would stick around after all that pressure, I decided to give it a shot and was in the area they described at about 2:20. By this time I'm doubting I'll see anything and I've just wasted two hours, but figure I might as well give it a try since I was there now. I'm trying to stalk through the thick thorn brush and it's impossible to be quiet. Stuff is scratching and grabbing my clothes, crunching under my feet and I'm thinking there's no way an animal would stick around with all the noise I'm making. All of a sudden, mid-step, I get the sense or urge to look up. About 15-20 yards in front of me is the young bull laying down. His back was to me with his butt facing to my left and his head up and turned trying to look back at me to see what/where I was.

I slowly pull my rifle up, don't feel good about a neck shot with the movement and small window I have to shoot so decide to shoot his spine at the base of the neck figuring it would be an instant kill or bullet/bone would fragment into the vitals and quickly kill him. I fire and he slumps down immediately; I looked down to reload and look back up to see him trying to get up. About the second or third time he brought his head up I quickly put the scope on the center of his neck and fire and he drops again. I reload again while keeping eyes on him, but I see his hind legs and tail twitching and know he's dead. When I approached him I realized that my first shot was not where I wanted because I didn't account for the close distance, angle, and I probably also pulled the shot low. It hit 10-12 inches back and paralyzed him. My second shot was perfect, center of the neck and a third of the way down from the base of the head. Everything from seeing him to second kill shot happened in about 10 seconds, with the time between the first and second shot being about 5 seconds. It's crazy how quick the mind can work and time seemed to stand still from the time I realized there was an animal, analyzed the situation, took aim, fired, reloaded, reanalyzed, fired again. Almost like the movie Wanted, how those assassins could think and act so fast it was as if everything else slowed down.

It's now 3:00 and just 40 minutes after arriving to the area. I called family with the good news and then the volunteers to let them know I had an animal down and was alone. I told them I would call later before dark if I thought I might need help or not. I had planned to do the gutless quarter method, but changed plans because the weather had warmed up (*Mistake 5: should have stuck to gutless method). I was worried about spoilage and thought I could get the warm blood and entrails out quickly to speed the cooling process. Being alone and lacking the proper tools (*Mistake 6: only had one sharp knife that quickly dulled and no sharpener), I couldn't do the job safely and had to revert back to the gutless method. It was about 6 pm by the time I got the first half done (skin off topside, 2 quarters, backstrap, tenderloin, and chuck) and I was flat out exhausted from everything leading up to this point.

When I went to flip the animal over I couldn't. It's head was bent back (*Mistake 7: didn't lay head and neck straight out) and it made it too difficult to roll over with the level of exhaustion I was experiencing. I called the volunteers for help and gave them directions. I decided to use the time waiting for them to take a break as well as make my way to the road to meet them, thinking they'd only be 30 minutes or so. They finally showed up after 7:30, an hour and a half after calling them. When they arrived they had game carts to help haul out the meat, but no knives or anything else so I had to basically hack the other side up with my dull knife in a rush to get it done as fast as possible and ruining the cape which I had wanted to save and tan. They hauled loads of meat as I finished the quartering. On the last load and on our way out, I started noticing meat on the ground in the trail out. Turns out they did a poor job of loading the carts and meat bounced out as they walked it to the truck. Now I have a bunch of dirty, hacked up meat. After cleaning as much as I could and removing what I couldn't, I ended up with about 110 lbs of quality boneless meat.

It was now 1 am and all the work was finished with the meat cleaned and on ice. By the time I got back to Adolph park, I was locked out and sat outside the gate trying to get some sleep until they opened them back up at 6 am. Got to camp, made coffee, and started breaking camp knowing I had a long trip back to San Antonio ahead of me. I was also lucky that the biologist was able to come out and spray the nilgai head so I didn't have to spend another day waiting for it to freeze for 24 hrs. Thankfully back at home and we had a major cold front come through so I was able to trim and debone the meat over the next 3-4 days without worrying about spoilage. Learned quite a bit and hope to do it again, but do a better job as well as get the skin out and tanned. I also did the skull euro style and it came out awesome, especially doing for the first time ever. I have pictures on my phone, but don't know how to post them.

Sorry for such a long post, hope it is helpful. I had a lot of people doubting I would get a nilgai and even with all my mistakes, a lot of luck, help from others, and perseverance paid off. Can't wait to get another chance. I'm gonna pick up bow hunting again to get a better chance at drawing for the archery hunts.

Last edited by HankTheTank; 10/19/18 02:48 PM.
Re: Laguna Atascosa NWR archery Whitetail/Nilgai hunt. Any info? [Re: HankTheTank] #7319925 10/19/18 07:00 PM
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OP Online Content
Bird Dog
T
Joined: Jul 2018
Posts: 307
That is an awesome right up. Many things.

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