BigWoods Management Deer

Promise not to laugh? I am in my early forties, have hunted since I could carry a gun and follow behind my father, stepping in his snow tracks, and up until this last January I had never shot a native whitetail.

A friend of mine, Jim Schaefer, arranged a doe management hunt for us at the 7,200-acre BigWoods on the Trinity River near Tennessee Colony.

If you have never had the privilege of hunting a river bottom area that is pristine and steps you back in time, you owe it to yourself to hunt at BigWoods at least once in your life.

Jim and I were the first ones dropped off at our blind, and I nervously followed all of Jim's experienced advice. The legal time came and passed, and the first hour passed with nothing more eventful than being buzzed by two sparrows. Then behind us a 10-point buck slowly emerged from the woods. He didn't get that big by being stupid! He knew something was up, but when we didn't give ourselves away, he crossed the clearing like a king entering his courtroom. Jim blew several times on a fawn bleat call. Another half hour passed, and seemingly out of no where four does came out into the same clearing. Unfortunately, Jim couldn't get a clear shot, but knowing it was my first told me, "If you get a clear shot, take her."

I pulled the rifle up into position, placed the cross hairs on a doe's shoulder. When the gun went off the doe bounded off, and I thought for sure I had missed. Jim's experience kicked in and he told me we needed to sit and wait about 20-30 minutes before we looked for her. Suddenly out of nowhere, right down the middle of the road came a bachelor group of bucks! There were nine in all, with three being 10-pointers. They fed and casually grazed their way towards us for about 10 minutes, and then gradually melted back into the BigWoods. After what seemed like an eternity, Jim said those magic words all first-time shooters long to hear: "Let's go get your deer."

Being the safety conscious Hunter Education Instructors we are, we unloaded our rifles and began that long 25-foot climb to the ground. Jim got to the ground first and suddenly froze, telling me to do the same. he was off balance, and when he moved to reload and get into position, the doe saw him and ran back into the woods. We walked in silence down the cathedral made by sunlight coming through the trees. We hadn't walked 50 yards when three more does walked out. Jim and I got down and he raised his rifle – but once again he just couldn't get the clean shot he was looking for.

The place where my doe had been standing was unmarred by any blood or sign I had hit her. Jim and I searched for the second eternity of my morning, when I heard him say quietly, "There she is." I wanted to run up to see her, but Jim said to slow down in case she got up.

When we were standing over her, the back slapping and hand shaking began in full force. Jim pulled out a carry strap from his backpack, and then the long drag back to the road began.

The afternoon, Bob MacFarlane, the owner, personally took me on a tour/hog hunt around the property. he treated me like an old friend, particularly when it came to chewing me out for missing an easy shot on my first hog! I redeemed myself later when I killed two small hogs on the run with one shot.

Unfortunately, Jan. 27 was the last day to hunt rifle deer on the property, but I did see quite a few hogs – 40-50. The BigWoods (903-928-2721)

– Omar Cotter 817-274.5489

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