TEXAS WHITETAILS by Larry Weishuhn

Late Season

T he doe, only deer I had seen all afternoon, stared intently into the whitebrush. Her ears were fully attentive and erect. The hairs on her tail appeared to bristle reminding me of someone with a “bad hair day.”

I doubted it was another deer, possibly wild hogs, coyotes or a bobcat. I had seen tracks of all three, especially those of a big bobcat, walking the trail to my hiding place on the edge of my Tecomate food plot. Of particular interest had been the bobcat tracks.

Earlier in the season there had been a tremendous acorn crop, but most were now (mid-January) gone. Serendipitous rains during late fall had contributed greatly to food plot growth and provided deer on the property with highly palatable and nutritious forage.

For the past couple of days I had not seen nearly the number of deer I expected. Something was keeping the deer away. Normally the food plot attracted many deer, including some mature, large-antlered bucks during the late season when other food sources were scarce.

I wondered whether the reason for the scarcity of deer could be the bobcat. 

Some mature whitetails tend to feed during the middle part of the day. Activity charts indicated deer would be feeding between 1 and 2:30 pm and that was the time this buck appeared.

The doe snorted twice then ran across the field, passing within fewer than ten steps. I glassed the opposite brushy edge. Not an animal could I see. I waited five minutes then reached into the pocket of my Drake Non-Typical vest and pulled out the Convergent Hunting Solutions mouth-blown predator call I carry with me whenever I am in the field.

Well over an hour remained before the sun would start sinking into the west when I started blowing the call. Less than ten seconds into my dying rabbit squeals, a big bobcat walked out of the brush near where the doe had been.

He stopped about 75 yards out and turned broadside. With my right hand, I ever so slightly adjusted my rested Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter, 44 Mag so it was lined up directly with the bobcat. I cocked the single-action’s hammer, peered through the scope. The crosshairs settled solidly on the “little spotted lion’s” shoulder. I squeezed the trigger.

The Hornady 240-grain XTP bullet struck exactly where I had aimed. A few moments later at the bobcat’s side I admired the old tom’s rosette and spotted hide. I carried the cat to the ATV then drove to another area, a creek bottom between two food plots.

Before heading back to camp that night, I had seen three young bucks and an older buck missing his right antler. I wanted to discern whether the missing antler had been broken off at the base, or, if he simply failed to develop an antler on the right side.

If it was broken, I intended to pass him. If there was no sign of a pedicel, I intended to take him. Unfortunately, before I could determine which it was, he disappeared.

I had to head home that night. But, I intended to return to the property in three days. I hoped if it had indeed been the bobcat that spooked deer off of my food plot, with the predator gone, the deer would return. 

Three days later I was back. Before leaving home I had checked the “activity chart” I have come to place great faith in. With the moon nearly full and shining most of the night, the activity chart suggested the peak feeding period in our area should be between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. I planned on being in my ground blind near the food plot by high noon.

Walking in I saw many deer tracks, one set of coyote tracks, and no bobcat tracks. Based on the renewed number of tracks, the deer were back.

I spotted my first deer, a nice buck, a long way off walking my way; about 45 minutes into my mid-day sit. Then off to my left behind a screen of oak brush I spotted a second buck. This one was bigger than the first, a long-tined, ten point with massive bases.

This was a buck I had not seen before. He strode into field and started feeding. I was glassing him when I looked to my right, a third buck fed into the field. This one was a young ten point with great promise. A few minutes later, three does walked into the field and started feeding on the lush forage.

I wondered how others in camp were faring. I suspected they were sitting around the lunch table talking about the morning’s hunt or possibly watching someone else hunt on television rather than experiencing it first hand.

To my extreme left I spotted a huge rack appearing from behind the trunk of an ancient oak. Cautiously, I pointed my Ruger .44 Mag in that direction, cocked the revolver’s hammer and…

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