I’ve had the distinct pleasure of growing up in the Texas Hill Country. To say the people are nice would be like saying Jesus was just alright (with me). If you haven’t had the opportunity to travel to my part of the world, put it on your bucket list. A good portion of the aforementioned uber-friendly folks earn extra money during the fall by leasing their land to big city hunters. Keep in mind that a big city is any city with more than two Dairy Queens . . .

Every fall, thousands of hunters make the migration to the Hill Country. They journey (exact definition unknown) to prime pieces of land carefully tended by their proud owners to facilitate incoming hunters. Come opening weekend, the area sounds likes a war zone, as everyone claims their trophy. Rarely is a shot taken at more than 100 yards, most are under a feeder and EVERYONE wears full camo and scent masking chemicals.

Eventually, the gunfire dies down and the locals take to the field to harvest meat and cull non-trophy animals. Sometimes they use the same blind their hunters used. Truth be told, it’s not out of the norm  for locals to take a shot from an ATV or bathroom window. They might make an effort to wear a camo shirt, but nobody I know will be caught dead covering himself in deer piss.

I grew up hunting with my friends in this, uh, casual, manner. I don’t think I could conceal myself unless my life depended on it. I own exactly one set of camo pants and shirt. I enjoy stalking, but I’m not particularly good at it. I normally hunt for meat; I like to make that process as easy as possible.

My coworker Dave (names changed to protect the innocent) is a bit different that way. The avid Oklahoma outdoorsmen grew up hunting and fishing. He’s got a sixth sense for the wind and weather, and an encyclopedic knowledge of most of the ungulates in the lower 48. Dave and I enjoy swapping stories at work, and keep each other sane while living in a city. When I scheduled some harvesting at a family friend’s place, I asked if Dave to join me.

The family friend is a Hill Country native. He moved to the big city to make his fortune as an engineer for a large petroleum company—and then returned to retire. He bought 50 acres, built a house, and now spends most of his days reading. His ex-big city wife loves looking at the local animals. So he erected a feeder in his back yard exactly 50 yards from his back porch. He keeps it stocked year round and puts a water trough out during the dry times.

Each morning, he watches the local fauna come in to enjoy food and water while he drinks coffee. Being a local boy, my family friend believes in harvesting. He takes a fat doe every year that provides enough deer meat for the season. Recently however, he’s started seeing more and more Black Buck Antelope. Beautiful animals, but extremely territorial and prone to destroying shrubbery. in short, he sees them as a pest.

His invite highlighted the fact that I could take one of these if I liked. Black buck is quite delicious, and I was salivating at the thought.

Dave and I met at my ranch at some ungodly hour before heading out to harvest. Dave hopped out of his Tahoe decked from head to toe in long underwear and camo. My bad. I’d told him that my friend had a really nice hunting blind—and no more. Accidentally on purpose. We made the short drive out to my friend’s place, arriving about 20 minutes before the sun started peeking out.

Hot coffee awaited us. The land owner said we needed to be quiet; his wife was still asleep. We chatted for a bit. Dave was antsy to get to the blind. I asked my friend if we could get set up, and he made for the back door. Dave grabbed his gun, binocs and extra ammo. We took five steps and then my friend pointed to the floor and told us to grab some pillows and get set up. Dave looked mortified. He had never been in a 3000 square foot climate controlled blind before!

We opened the windows, got settled in, and watched the sun reveal our target area. Dave was even more shocked to find a feeder at 50 yards with 3 does and a buck already waiting for feeding time.

Right around the time the sun started to show itself, we had at least eight whitetail under the feeder and a black buck doe on the way in. Once the feeder went off, we saw the number of whitetail grow by four, but did not see any more black buck. My friend (sitting in his recliner behind us) told us that we could take anything we wanted except the whitetail buck he was saving for next year.

As I lined up on the black buck doe, Dave nudged me to look out at 200 yards. Headed at a slow trot was a mature black buck. Totally dominant and unafraid, he covered the distance in less than a minute and quickly butted his way to the front of the line.

Dave had only ever seen pictures of a black buck, and was quite awestruck. All confidence and muscle, they look like a coiled spring ready to go off at a moment’s notice. None too subtly, Dave announced with a laugh that Mr. Black Buck sure would look good on his wall. My friend never missed a beat and told us to take him. I nodded at Dave and told him to go ahead and take the shot.

I’m pretty sure I saw his eyes get a little wet at the prospect. He wasted no time in lining up his shot, exhaled, and squeezed the trigger. We’d all taken care to wear earplugs, so the blast wasn’t uncomfortable. We watched the buck run 20 yards and collapse in a heap. Dave made a perfect lung shot that managed not to damage any bone or muscle.

Dave and I made my friend and his wife breakfast, and then headed off to my ranch to divide his kill. I took my half of the deer and let Dave buy me lunch on Monday. It may not be everyone’s idea of hunting, but it wasn’t a bad way to spend a weekend if you ask me.

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20 Responses to Texas Hill Country Trophy Hunting (Sort Of)

  1. Ummm….this type of “hunting” is only a little better than going to a grocery store and buying meat out of a freezer. A LITTLE better. Because at least your killing what you plan to eat.

    If I am really off grid, and its not for trophy, only for sustance, then trapping and shooting are great. Because at that point, it is just a means to keeping fed and surviving.

    But this isn’t hunting, as much as it is sniping.

    • I agree, Its bad enough in my state to see jaggoffs riding around on their ATVs. Which is illegal not that they care. When I hunt there is a lot of walking involved, which is just the way I like it.

      • Once again, I stress the fact that we in the Hill Country have been hunting the same way for a hundred years! While I prefer to stalk my deer, I have nothing against this kind of hunting, as it does not affect me, my land, or my deer, so I couldn’t care less how anyone hunts. But you also need to take into consideration that many landowners have a horrid overpopulation problem on their land, and hunting with feeders is the only practical measure to take. Please think before you go spouting off about other people’s business that you don’t understand.

  2. Are those a native species? It looks like something you see in Africa on a PHOTOGRAPHIC safari. Whatever it is, that’s about the most unsportsman-like poor excuse for hunting I’ve ever heard of.

    • Read the Wiki linked to in the article above. Non-native species, no hunting regulations (except valid hunting license) in Texas. Some pretty animals taste as good as some ugly animals, like a wild hog vs. a Black Buck. Mmmm, tasty.

  3. I’ve always supported all hunters, but I’d be embarrassed to show this silly lil goat off as a trophy. It looks like he shot someones family pet.

  4. FYI, Mikeb, they are an Indian antelope (nowhere near Africa), Joe, you would be surprised at how hard they are to hunt, besides their small size, mine won’t come within a mile of a blind or a feeder, and they NEVER STOP MOVING. And for all three of you, us in the hill country have been hunting the same way for a hundred years, so go butt a stump, because nobody asked for your opinion. To Tyler Kee; the picture looks like you are hunting around Fredericksburg, which I daresay isn’t full-blown Hill Country. And as to your shots that are rarely over a hundred yards, try northern San Saba county, home of the most skittish deer in the world.

    • You sir, have a gift. This was out near Fredericksburg. South of Harper by about 8 miles. The Tierra Linda Ranch imported a good sized herd of Black Buck back in the 1960’s if I remember correctly. They banned hunting on the ranch and the population exploded moving out to neighboring ranches in their search for food and water. Same situation with the whitetail.

      Shoot me an email if you get a chance. I’d love to meet up with a local TTAG member. tyler.c.kee@gmail.com

    • You sir should wash your mouth out. Fredericksburg not real hill country, much less Harper. You don’t get much more country, or hilly, or rocky for that matter than Harper. And I can attest to the famed out the bathroom window 10 point hill country shot as it was always my favorite form of oh shite dad bring me the 257 hunting.

  5. Who said hunting had to be labor intensive? Does it make the doe or buck taste any better? These animals, pest species at least, bring nothing to the table. Other than dinner I guess. If you have the land or opportunity to take the 50 yard shot, take it. If you are looking for a more challenging hunt, they are out there. Don’t deride someone for eliminating a pest or putting dinner on the table.

    • If the hunting (or fishing) is too easy, do the following:
      1. Set out your outfit for the next day.
      2. Get it soaking wet, and put it in the freezer.
      3. Once you’re ready to hunt, have your wife pour some ice-water down your shirt.

  6. Mmmmmmm….nothing like fresh meat that walks up to the back door.

    The whitetail doe I took last year fell about 25 yards, literally, from the barn where I hang them up to skin and butcher. Talk about a short drag over to the processing area.

    After a hard day’s work preparing meat for the freezer, there is nothing, and I do mean nothing like gently grilled backstrap that was still walking around that morning.

    Dang, I gotta go look in the freezer now.

  7. The first time I hunted South Texas I wasn’t very impressed with the use of feeders. I have modified my position some though. The scrub oak and mesquite is not like the woodlands of TN that I grew up hunting. Without the feeders, most likely you wouldn’t see anything during legal shooting light. As for the Black Buck and others, there are more of some of those species than there are in their native habitat. Plus, the guys running the feeders provide feed year round and there is not much feed around now due to the drought. Now, what is the difference between a feeder that spreads corn over a 15 yd circle and a heavy laden oak tree that you’re sitting and watching? Or, what is the difference between this style of hunting and what is practiced in parts of Europe? From what I saw while there, not much.

  8. I’ve done some “hunting” up thar too. Bow hunting as I’m far too poor to get a gun lease. Lots of exotics roaming around. I’ve gotten several different types of sheep up there. At one point we hunted all morning, then walked across the highway to Garner state park, stripped off all our camo, and went swimming in the Frio river. Beautiful area.

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