Sometimes you never know the opportunities that await you, and this is certainly one that I could never have dreamed would have happened to me. I was in Dallas, TX one evening at an event and got to talking with a friend about hunting. One thing led to another and before you know it, I had an invite to hunt the famed Pitchfork Ranch near Guthrie, TX- all 165,000 acres of it! All game animals are 100% wild. No high fences or pen-raised critters here!!
Fast forward a few months to mid- November, right in the middle of the west Texas rut, and my bags were packed for the Pitchfork. The ranch is loaded with all types of game from Whitetail, Mule deer, mountain lions, coyotes, hogs and everything else that Texas has to offer. The ranch is unique in that it has old-school working cowboys, covering the sprawling west Texas ranch on horseback. It was pretty neat to see them work the cattle and then hear the bell ring everyday at headquarters signifying that the food was ready in the chow hall. I was on cloud nine soaking in the ranch on day 1.
The first day we arrived in time to make a quick afternoon trip spotting deer from on top of the hills in the mesquite draws. It turned out to be a slow afternoon, we spotted a few does but the activity seemed minimal at best and I prepared myself for a long weekend!
The next morning we were up early and it looked like it would be a perfect day, 23 degrees and no wind. I gathered up all my gear only to realize that I had left my rattling horns back home! I now was stuck with a pair of fake, plastic antlers off a table in our bunk house for the prime rut in west Texas.
We decided my guide was going to drop me off on top of a big mesquite draw where I could see out a good half mile and rattle. Meanwhile they headed off to the top of the hill a good ¾ mile behind me and were going to try and protect my backside. Let the fun begin!
The sun was just climbing over the top of the hill behind me and I had settled into my spot and prepared to start banging my plastic horns together when I realized that in our drive out one of the tines on my fake antler had broke off! I now had 1 point to rattle with on my set of 8 point horns. Things were looking glim. To late to look back though I decided to give it a go anyway. I rattled and grunted and then waited, hoping for a giant to appear out of nowhere. Nothing. I started again and looked out over the hills. Still nothing. I slowly checked my backside… And like a ghost there he was, his antlers silhouetted by the rising west Texas sun, he was staring right at me no more than 70 yards away. I slowly grabbed my 6.5x284 and set the cross hairs right on his chest. Making the decision that he was a mature deer, I squeezed the trigger and my rifle roared and the deer didn’t run 30 yards. I walked up on my biggest deer ever, a 20” wide typical 9 point grossing 161 3/8”. He has 2 kickers and a lot of character. I was speechless, what a crazy hunt!! To top it off we spent the rest of the weekend calling in coyotes and poppin’ em with the .204…
And just like it started, I would have never guessed that it would end the way it did. The Pitchfork was heaven on earth for a country boy like me!!