It seemed like a simple question, but it is week later and I still do not have an answer.
“What is the most memorable hunting trip you have ever been on?”
How simple of a question is that?
Yet on the cusp of another hunting season I have got nothing.
It is not that I haven’t been on some great trips, but as I zipped through my mental Rolodex (flash drive for the younger crowd) it seemed like I could recall almost every hunt I have been on, making them all memorable. It was just hard to pick out a favorite.
Ask me the worst hunts I have ever been on and I can come up with a No. 1 and 1A in a second. Those were nightmares that will never be forgotten.
I tried to think what it would take to make a trip the most memorable. It wouldn’t have necessarily been the kill, although my first kill and my kids’ first were important.
But I have been on a lot of trips where the hunting wasn’t so good, but the trip was still a lot of fun.
How a hunt played out is more important than whether it was successful. I remember a dove hunt in snow near Georgetown. It was an awesome shoot with lots of birds slipping through the mesquites and oak trees along the San Gabriel River. Picking the birds out among the giant, wet snowflakes was a once in a lifetime experience.
So was the time I was hunting turkey with my two sons in McCulloch County when they doubled on toms and I got one less than 30 minutes later. It was one of the two or three best-timed trips for spring gobblers I have ever been on.
I will never forget my first, and only Eastern wild turkey. That too was a classic hunt.
There have been great goose hunts at Eagle Lake, Sabine Pass and in the Panhandle. Some of those rank high.
One of the most memorable deer hunts happened a couple of years ago near Albany on a weekend that every time we stopped to rattle bucks would come charging in. We probably rattled up 25 bucks in two days. Even though it was a cull buck hunt, I still saw one of the biggest bucks I had ever seen in the wild on a low fence ranch.
Unlike the other bucks that couldn’t help themselves, old big boy stood off in the shadows looking our direction to see what all the commotion was about. He hadn’t gotten that big and old by being stupid.
I also remember the first deer I took, a spike standing on a hillside on a cold morning near Sonora.
There have been a lot in between and some more memorable than others.
The people you hunt with can make a trip memorable. After all stuck for a weekend or a week with people who aren’t fun to be around is not going to make a best-of list unless it is the best of the worst list. That is part of the reason for the hunts on that list.
Friends are always part of hunting, and in hunting there is no social class structure. We are all hunters in camp. If you or someone else is new in camp, by the end of the trip everyone is friends. If not, you probably don’t want to know them anyway.
Location is also important. I have seen downtown Dallas, but that isn’t a very scenic place to hunt. I did dove hunt feet outside a Dallas city limits sign. It was a good hunt. A memorable one, but not the most memorable.
There have been others on ranches steeped in Texas history. One had an old stagecoach way station. Others have had Indian artifacts or campsites, or were on famed ranches. One, along the White River near Lubbock, was the site of a battle between the cavalry and local Indians. The landowner showed us a human skull that he found in the eroding ground along the river. Who could forget that?
Another time was a spring turkey hunt in a very late-season snow. No turkey was killed, but it is hard to forget bluebonnets poking out of a snow bank.
In some cases it is the food. I have had some of the best food I have ever eaten while hunting. Some of it was cooked by chefs, other times it was by other hunters or a rancher’s wife.
On the other hand I have been on trips when we lived on cold cuts and chips for days and those were good times.
I have a couple of regrets and one is that I never kept a map with pins punched in the site of every place I have hunted in Texas. I think I could still remember most of them, but it wouldn’t be the same.
The second, looking back, is that I wish I had taken and kept one picture of a building or house from every nearby town to a hunt. A lot of those places are vanishing. Some are completely gone.
I guess picking a best hunt is a little like picking out a favorite child. There is something special about all of them.
Maybe this season will be the year that something happens somewhere down the road that makes a hunt the most memorable.
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