by Abbey Jones
My family were extremely fortunate to be presented with an exciting opportunity to stay at the ‘Jordan Ranch’ and hunt whitetail deer in Texas in the United States of America. On November 4 we began our lengthy voyage to the States.
After almost thirty hours of travel we arrived in Memphis, Tennessee. This was a family trip and Mum is one of Elvis’ many fans. Our first stop was Graceland, we went on tours and then visited a massive outdoor shop called ‘Bass Pro’. I was blown away by the restaurants, hotels, boats displayed on the water, a bowling alley and all the hunting gear of course and so much more!
After a few nights in Memphis, we flew to Houston. We found our way on Route 69 north to a small country town called Livingston. We met our hosts; Matt, Holly and little Neal.
Next morning, Dad and I walked into the stand before daylight and excitement was brewing. We hunted for a week with early mornings and late evenings. Matt who was our dedicated ‘driver, guide and chef’ also had the challenge of not-so-good sleep. The first whitetail that I saw was a spiker, the following morning, this was when the real magic began. We had the chance to shoot a bobcat and decided not to as we are accustomed to the deer hunting scene in Australia — one shot, they’re gone. Later we learned that bobcats are difficult animals to hunt in that part of Texas and to our surprise these deer don’t spook so easily.
Dad was kind enough to let me shoot first, this meant his job was glassing to determine if the bucks were of legal size. It was 7 am and a buck walked past the front feeder, Dad shot the binoculars up.
‘Shoot!’ he said.
The buck was almost across the track. I still had sight of his shoulder, so I pulled the trigger and he ran into the bush. We were certain he had laid down somewhere close. But even so, I was a little disappointed in the shot. I passed the rifle to Dad, convinced I had shot my buck. Matt had strongly advised us to stay in the blind no matter what. Five minutes had passed and a real nice buck appeared, we were both shocked at the size of him! ‘Bang!’, and Dad had dropped him in the middle of the track. We were stoked!
Next thing we know, a doe had walked out. Dad asked if I wanted to shoot the doe in case my buck wasn’t there, I quickly said yes and placed the cross hairs on it and slowly pulled the trigger. She was feeding and it was a clear shot. I watched her drop right in front of Dad’s buck. Yes, what a morning! We were both very happy and I was eager to find my buck, so we gave in and left the stand at about 10 am.
My buck was nowhere to be found and the disappointment was starting to set in. It wasn’t long until Matt arrived, he spotted that I had pulled the shot on my buck and hit a pine tree (or as the Texans would say, I killed a pine tree). Matt was rapt that Dad had taken such a nice buck as we were taking our first whitetails. I was so excited to have pulled the trigger on a whitetail in Texas, at fifteen years of age! I was also upset to have missed a buck.
The following hunts, Mum joined in on the action. Where we watched does, fawns and a few small bucks; and with that Matt decided we should try another property where the farmer wanted deer culled. Our first hunt at this property was in what we called the ‘fancy stand’ — three office chairs and sliding glass windows. Luxury! And it got even better, as we saw plenty of deer! I was lucky enough to see a buck I was happy with, I lined him up and pulled the trigger. It was a relief to see him drop, as I have learned this is where my adrenaline comes from, I was very excited and keen to get some photos!
The next morning, with dawn still at least an hour away, we headed out in the Gator splashing around in the mud (a first for me). We weren’t expecting Texas to be so wet! It wasn’t long before the sun rose and we began watching several does feed.
It was the middle of the rut and the bucks never gave up on chasing them around. After watching what seemed like a wild goose chase, I picked out a doe. As it came clear of others, I took my shot. Shortly after, a spiker presented an easy broadside shot which Dad now has on video! That makes a total of five whitetail, four for me and one for Dad. I was now tagged out!
On our trip, we also had the privilege of trying ‘chicken fried whitetail’, which surprisingly has nothing to do with chicken and a tad to do with battered meat. We went spotlighting and rather than culling kangaroos — we shot raccoons! I saw squirrels and watched Dad shoot two coyotes. I can easily say, from the moment we boarded our first flight; to the moment we landed back in Australia, we were filled with pure bliss. We have the Murphy family to thank for that! Thank you all for providing us with beautiful accommodation, tasty meals, interesting conversations and wonderful memories. This trip truly was, incredible.