This year, my nephew Jeff Cumins and his sons Ethan and Andrew, were more than anxious to tag along with my son Jason and me for our annual Whitetail hunt near the Texas Panhandle. I had hunted with 17 year-old Ethan before but not with 13 year-old Andrew. This would be their first hunt in big deer country. The White-tail deer in this area can outweigh the ones we have at home near Waco by a hundred pounds and their antler growth is much better also. Jeff’s plan was not to hunt, but to help his son’s get a nice trophy and some tasty meat for their family. Jeff is my brother David’s son and a he’s lot like his father. David was my best hunting buddy for many, many years, ‘til cancer took him in 2005. Now that job has moved on to my son, we do most of our hunting together.
Excitement was at a very high level all the way around. Because of work schedules and other family obligations, Jeff and I have not hunted together in many years, so we had an opportunity to do a lot of catching up on the long eight hour drive to our spot. We pulled my 30′ toy hauler travel trailer and all our gear with Jeff’s new 3/4 Ton, Ford diesel pickup. It pulled the heavy trailer really well, and a lot better than my half-ton Chevy gas rig. My trailer has three queen size beds and room for one extra cot, so we had ample room for all five of us big guys.
We arrived the day before season opened and had our pop-ups in place and brushed in near the creek then placed a few small chum piles of corn here and there, well before dark. Jason drove up after he finished work and met us that night.
Before the sun peaked over the horizon on opening day, Ethan and I made our way to my pop-up. Jeff and Andrew went to Jeff’s and Jason to his favorite spot. We had sat my blind in a place where I had some close trails for my crossbow shots and Ethan could get some two hundred yard plus shots in several directions with his rifle. We all saw deer but not the ones we were there for. The next day, we changed plans a little.
Here is Ethan’s Story, in his own words:
Jason’s birthday was the second day of hunting. Everyone had seen at least one buck and some does on the first day. I decided to hunt with Jason in his favorite spot, which was an old abandoned house that offered good shot possibilities from east and west. We arrived around 5:30 a.m. and did not see anything for more than two hours. Jason watched to the east and right into the rising sun, while I watched to the west. The evening before, Jason put out some corn at a couple of spots, hoping to coax a deer out of the thick brush.
“There’s a big buck coming up, he may be a hundred and fifty inches, maybe more,” Jason said. I walked with him to the east window. The big buck walked up into the clearing and stopped at the corn pile. Jason lined up his shot, waited, and then whispered quietly, “Hurry up! Come here!”
Quickly, I sat in his spot and lined up my shot. I was shaking badly, not because it was 38 degrees, but because this was a really big buck! I finally lined up my shot then slowly pulled the trigger. When the rifle fired, we both heard the bullet hit and saw the buck fall. It sounded like a Mack truck hitting a brick wall. Jason gave me a huge high five because we both knew I had hit him.
We waited for about five minutes and then started gathering our stuff. I looked out and there was a doe and with her was a big buck, in the exact same spot. Jason and I both thought it was the same buck I had just shot. So I lined up my shot again and this time I shot a little high, hitting the spine and dropping him in his tracks. We watched the video before we went out to check. It was inconclusive, so just to be safe, all five of us looked for about three hours to prove that it actually was the same buck. All in all, I was very, very happy with the big eight point I wound up with. As long as I live, that will forever be a great memory for me.
This is Andrew’s story, in his own words:
We had been planning this trip for what seemed like forever, but it proved to be well worth the wait. November 23 was opening morning and this would be my first time hunting for deer. My dad, Jeff, and I sat at a spot we call the oil platform. We sat there all morning and had one pretty decent nine point walk by at maybe fifty yards. I quickly raised my rifle up, a .257 Roberts, which my dad always said my grandpa David could drive tacks with. Both of my older brothers had taken their first deer with this rifle, so now it was my turn. My dad did the old merrrrr call, but for some reason, the deer did not hear it. Dad did it again but way louder this time but the buck just kept on going. So we sat there and had to watch what I thought was the only buck I might see, walk away. I kind of feel like my grandpa had different ideas for me and for my brother. That evening I sat with Jason at a very creepy old abandoned house since our pop-up was looking directly into the sun for an evening hunt. The view was all worth it, even though we did not see anything to shoot.
The next morning began a day I will never forget. That morning Dad and I sat at the oil platform again. We only saw a spike which pushed his limits a little by poking its head up at about five yards in front of us. Then we heard two very close shots, about twenty minutes apart. The first sounded like it hit, and hit hard. The second shot sounded like a clean miss so we packed up and headed in to camp.
Low and behold, an old huge eight point which Ethan shot, was down when we got back to camp. Then we heard that there might be a bigger one down somewhere too. We hung the large eight-pointer in a tree to bleed, then we all went back to the corn pile near the old house to look for Ethan’s possible second deer. Using the range finder, it was two hundred and fifty four yards to where Ethan had shot twice. We looked, and looked, but we found absolutely no sign of another hit deer.
I decided to sit in the house that evening with Jason, while Dad and Ethan quartered his buck. We set up with us both looking out one window to the East. Time passed by so slowly. The sun was starting to set. I saw my uncle looking hard left, then right, then hard left again as I tried also to focus on the left. Then he said, “Big Buck….Ten!”
I have heard that deer can seemingly come right up out of the ground at this time of day, but had never understood it. Now it makes perfect sense! The weirdest thing was that this was the same corn pile five guys, two trucks, and a dead buck had been at for hours, earlier the same day And, he was with three does.
I finally got settled down, found him in my scope, saw how big the buck actually was and did what my dad and both uncles had repeatedly told me to do. Hold right at the back part of the front shoulder to hit the ‘money spot.’ I had complete faith in myself and my rifle. My dad had always told me that the .257 shoots an inch high at a hundred yards and it is deadly accurate at two hundred. I did what I was told.
d, relaxed, squeezed the trigger and let the rifle surprise me when it fired. The big buck dropped in his tracks.
I have never been so excited in my life! We jumped up, hugged, and laughed! But before we knew it, the deer stood back up and took a couple of steps, then fell again. Jason told me if he stood up again to take another shot. Sure enough, he stood up again and I pulled the trigger. All I heard was “click!” For some reason, the shot had failed and by that time the buck had fallen down the hill and was completely out of sight. We quickly left the house and walked closer to try to get another shot. At two hundred yard he stood up and fell back down where he was again hidden behind the hill. We made our way to the hill, where my second shot hit solid in the vitals and he moved no more.
This will be a hard trophy and story for me to top and he will be some good eating as well. I still think that my grandpa David had something to do with that day and forever will give thanks to him and my dad, as well as both of my uncles, for this special memory.
Well, as it turned out, the two new recruits into hunting used up all our luck for that trip. Jason and I went home empty handed, except for some awesome memories and some very thankful great nephews. They are actually my great nephews and Jason’s second cousins, but Jeff and Jason are more like brothers than cousins, so they call him Uncle Jason all the time.
These two brothers will be just like myself and my brother David and will be hunting buddies forever. Hunts like this, especially where the “newbie’s” get the trophies, are very special and will go down in family history. Hopefully, these youngsters will remember this hunt until they can remember nothing more and we also hope they remember who was with them, and how much fun we all had.