LET ME START THIS month’s column by wishing you Happy Holidays. This is the time of year when hunters and non -hunters alike strive to make this world a better place to live in. It is a time of reflection on your past hunts and achievements and also a time to sit back and ponder about the times when you could have done better.
In past years, I have reserved the December column for a listing of gifts that your hunter or huntress might love to have. One of the many gifts I wrote about was the precious gift of your time—time to spend with a young one who loves the outdoors. In a sense, this column is also about a gift to give, but with a little twist.
When I wore a younger man’s clothes, I could not wait for the mail to arrive with one of my many hunting magazines. I would sit for hours and read with enthusiasm about every hunt.
It did not matter to me if it was about a local hunt or one that was off in a new area, one that demanded a different way to hunt and be successful. I was so deeply involved in the stories that I imagined myself on one of those hunts. Yes, I would often dream about being on a hunt with a guide far away from my local jaunts.
It was not until I was an older adult (I prefer to call it a “distinguished” adult) that I was finally able to experience a hunt in a far away place. It was exciting to know I would be seeing different animals that do not exist in my home state.
I am not a professional hunter by any stretch of the imagination. I consider myself just an everyday type of guy with a very different kind of job that allows me to travel. During my travels, I have been blessed with many opportunities to hunt while away from home.
I have not only hunted here in Texas, but I have been fortunate enough to hunt and fish in New York, Montana, Missouri, Colorado and South Dakota to mention a few. I cannot say I was successful filling my freezer from all those hunts, but I can say that on every outing, I had an absolute great time and therefore, the hunt itself was successful.
A wonderful gift that not many people would think of would be a hunting trip of a lifetime for the hunter in your life. It might be a whitetail hunt in Missouri near the Kansas border, or a Merriam turkey hunt in South Dakota. Your hunter may have dreamt of an elk hunt in Colorado. Any trip like that would be a gift he or she would remember for the rest of their life.
Some hunts that could keep the cost down to a minimum, or you could spend quite a bit. It all depends on your situation and how deep your pockets are. I would recommend not trying to hunt without a guide who is familiar with the area. You could spend days trying to find the game you are after. Or worse, never even see the game you are hunting, if you choose to forego a guide.
If you get the chance to hunt Merriam turkeys in South Dakota, you would be wise to try to hunt on the Sioux Indian reservation if you can. Your guide would be a Native American very familiar with the reservation. I can assure you that you WILL see plenty of turkeys there. During my hunt, it was not uncommon to see at least 50 tom turkeys in full strut and gobbling their heads off.
You might find a plane ticket to New York in your stocking this year. If you do, plan on a whitetail hunt in central New York. It is not uncommon to field dress a 180- to 200-pound deer there. Big does and huge bucks are all over the Finger Lakes area. Bring along your fishing pole too. When you score on a nice deer, spend the rest of your time fishing either one of the Finger Lakes or Lake Ontario for some King salmon.
I know that hunting is a big business here in Texas, but can you imagine shooting a big bruiser on public land? It can be done. With the right guide, it is almost a guarantee.
I would like to remind everyone that if you do get to travel and go on your hunt of a lifetime, remember to take a few shots with your bow or rifle once you arrive at your destination. Even if you sighted-in the night before your trip, strange things can happen during the flight, somehow. I am a firm believer of Murphy’s Law with one exception… with me, when something can go wrong… it most certainly WILL go wrong.
Once on a trip to Indiana for a televised turkey hunt, I made the mistake of not shooting my bow before I headed out with the camera crew. I managed to make a fool out of myself by missing a nice gobbler by a mile. Once I arrived back at camp, I discovered that some clown at the baggage section of the airport thought it would be funny and moved my sights. Not Good!
In any event, the surprised look on the face of your hunter when he or she opens up that gift on Christmas morning to discover those plane tickets will be worth it all. It would be a once in a lifetime trip for them, and make no mistake about it. This would be a once in a lifetime gift from you as well
Once again, my wish is that you all enjoy a wonderful holiday season spent with the ones you love the most.
Merry Christmas, have fun and hunt safe.
TF&G Hunting Editor Lou Marullo shows how to walk like an animal instead of like a human.
Email Lou Marullo at [email protected]