I am sitting here in Georgia halfway through my marketing trip to the States and as I reflect on the trip so far and my time in Texas, i feel compelled to share with you guys my incredible experience with Dustin Mcrae, the owner of Texas Safaris.
I met up with one of my clients living just outside San Antonio. He had arranged a couple of his work colleagues and some friends to go hunting with Dustin near Sonora and invited me along for the ride. A couple days before the trip his buddies and work colleagues pulled out and meant it would be just myself and Mark hunting with Dustin. I felt a bit bad as it meant less people would be hunting but when Dustin met us at a local Steakhouse he instantly treated me like a good friend and it wasnt long before the jokes started flowing and I knew we were in for a good time.
We followed Dustin to one of his hunting areas and was instantly met with an abundance of animals. Coming from Africa I am used to seeing a lot of animals but what we saw took my breath away and with it being low fence was extra cool.
It wasnt long after we dropped our kit off at the lodge that we headed out to see what we could find. There was many axis that Dustin passed on while we drove around. As the light began to fade and to be honest mine and Mark's thoughts were probably on a cold beer, Dustin had other ideas and took us to an area where he knew there was a big blackbuck that hung around. He stopped the Polaris UTV about 200 yards away and we walked into the area. There was no blackbuck to be found but instead a group of Axis buck. Dustin told me to get onto the sticks as he saw a hard horned buck, I threw up my rifle and instantly fixed my cross hairs on that big bucks shoulder. I have never been so steady in my life, breathed so smoothly and felt so confident. I said to Dustin "You just tell me when?" And he replied with words I'll never forget......."Nah, we can do better!" And he calmly walked away. Hey?!?!. As a guide myself I know how difficult it is to pull a client off a big animal, so I had no choice but to trust Dustin and we headed back to the lodge for the night.
Bob and Nancy, the owners of the lodge, ate with us and I am so glad they did. What a fantastic couple that made me feel as though I have been hunting with them for decades. Their hospitality and genuine appreciation for me being there made it feel like home. The fact Miss Nancy left out a box of cookies each evening and we devoured them with a glass of milk was just the perfect touch of home.
The following morning with my trigger finger burning I was keen to get something in the dirt. It wasnt long before we stumbled across a mature black back. Dustin threw up the sticks and I steadied myself as the ram moved broad side about 150 yards away. Dustin gave me the nod and i let one fly....and fly it did, straight over the rams back. I chuckled to myself and shrugged off the miss. The ram hardly moved and I chambered another round. Again I got the nod from Dustin and so sent another one. Crap! Over the top again, this time I snapped at the trigger and knew it. By some miracle the ram trotted 30 yards to our right and stood behind a bush. By now Dustin was probably questioning if an African PH could actually shoot. This time I focused on my trigger pull, controlled my breathing and thumped the Blackback with a well.placed shot. The ram buckled and dropped dead, it was a relief. I took the customary rubbing and teasing from Dustin and Mark, which was all in good humor.
A little while later we came across a large group of Axis moving through thick brush. I couldn't see any but Dustin was positive he had seen a hard horned Buck that was of a.good size. We moved through the vegetation trying to not attract the attention of the does and shed bucks. About 140 yards ahead through a small clearing in the trees we could see the Axis moving. Dustin put the sticks up and asked me to get ready, saying the buck would walk into the small clearing. I really appreciated the fact he still had confidence in me to make the shot especially after my two earlier misses. Sure enough a buck stepped into the clearing and Dusting stopped him with a call. I told Dustin I had my crosshairs fixed on him and can shoot if he gave me the go ahead? The word "Yes" hadnt even left his mouth when the .308 Kimber rifle barked and the buck sunk to the ground. A good hard slap to my back from Dustin told me the buck was down. What a cool hunt and experience in Texas.
I have guided for many years and still.learnt a lot on that trip. It was an honour to hunt such a beautiful property, meet the nicest warmest folks and especially to be treated with such respect and friendship was even better.
For those looking to hunt in Texas, I can highly recommend Dustin at Texas Safaris.

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Jono and Justine McHugh
Eastern Cape, South Africa