The view from our blind was spectacular! It overlooked a large food plot with a spiderweb of trails leading out of the heavy brush. The blind was concealed in the brushy terrain and was downwind of the main travel corridors. The blind material allowed a full view of the field while being completely camouflaged from the outside. The chairs were comfortable and shooting sticks were strategically placed to shoot in most directions.
We were hunting the Lowrance Ranch in West Texas and we knew there were some great bucks in the area. Colton Beam, my outfitter and guide, had shown me photos of a large 10-point buck that frequented the area. The hulking body left no doubt that the deer was mature.
I was still arranging gear when the first Whitetail buck snuck down one of the trails and appeared below. The young buck passed within bow range without ever detecting we were there. The show got interesting when a nice buck snuck out of the thorn brush and started raking his antlers in the trees. Having a deer present is always beneficial; it acts like an early warning system for the next buck to come into view.
The sound of antlers smashing tree limbs echoed through the hills. Without warning, the deer stood motionless and started to get nervous. I bristled with the thought of having a big buck poke its nose out of the brush. However, to my surprise, a giant black hog edged out and started to feed along the edge of the road. The feral hog was huge and would weigh over 300 pounds. The pig was extremely tempting, but I did not want to mess up the odds of a big deer showing up. We watched the giant pig feed for over half an hour before it disappeared into the cover.
It was the first night of the hunt, and with fading light, I started to let my guard down. The sun was setting and the shadows were getting long when a deer magically appeared in the field. It was a mystery as to how we hadn’t seen the buck coming. It was well camouflaged within the arid Texas landscape and so was 30 yards into the field before being spotted. The sudden appearance startled me, and I quickly raised my binoculars to get a better look at the antlers. It only took a second to confirm that this was our target buck.
The antlers were tall and the buck’s belly sagged with age. Raising my rifle, I leveled my Trijicon Credo riflescope on the deer and settled the crosshair behind the front shoulder. The deer was busy feeding and I patiently waited for it to turn broadside. The buck was relaxed and was focused on groceries, which offered me lots of time. As it slowly worked its way into the meadow and stopped to feed, I slowly tightened up on the trigger. At the report of the rifle, the buck jumped, took a few steps, and stood facing to exit the field. I chambered a second round and shot the deer shot before it could change its mind about standing still. The buck dropped in his tracks, quickly ending the deer hunt.
On the way back to the lodge, I grilled Colton about predator hunting on the ranch. The good news was that predators were abundant and hunting them was encouraged. Shooting a big buck on the first day of hunting does not happen often, but there is never a hesitation when the right deer appears.
The Lowrance Ranch would be the perfect destination for an avid predator hunter. Being able to take advantage of the extreme bounty was an opportunity I could not overlook. Switching gears from deer to coyotes, bobcats, and hogs was easy. It meant this trip wouldn’t involve going home early or sitting in the lodge watching television. The first order of business would be going back to the same blind and hopefully seeing the big black boar.
The next day we were back in our blind watching the brush for feral swine. We were set up early so enjoyed the nice weather and the opportunity to view various birds. The strategy was to get in early and ensure we did not disturb the area. The sun was still high in the sky when a glance down the road showed a sounder of pigs trotting toward the field. I watched intently for the big black boar, but most were red or brown. A medium-sized black boar was in the group, and I prepared mentally to try and take several pigs. Being fast on the bolt and having the scope on low power would be imperative to getting more than one shot away.
The hogs scurried into the clearing and immediately started eating. A gigantic bronze hog had my attention and stood out in the group as the boss. My strategy was to let the pigs feed as far into the opening as possible before shooting. Hopefully, there would be enough time to target a second pig as they ran for cover after the shot.
The big bronze fed toward me and turned. My crosshair found the vitals, and I slowly tightened up on the trigger. At the report of the rifle, the hog jumped, stumbled and ran for cover. I knew the shot was good and worked the bolt on the Waypoint rifle. I put the crosshair in front of the nose of the next hog and touched off the shot. The bullet struck the ground just a hair in front of the pig. I worked the bolt and found the black pig following up the rear. The 143-grain Hornady ELD-X bullet found its mark, and the hog somersaulted to a stop on the edge of the grass. I was pleased with the double but kicking myself for over-leading the second hog. It was a great start to our extracurricular activities and that meant it was time to add some diversity.
Josh Lessmen, one of the guides in camp, is a regular competitor in predator derbies and knows a few tricks when calling coyotes and bobcats. We were scheduled to head out before first light and work on a few calling routines to draw in predators. We walked down a winter wheat field to get the wind in our favor. Josh placed the FoxPro e-caller about 100 yards out and we hid in a strip of cover to watch the field.
The distressed rabbit call echoed off the hill at the end of the field. We were about eight minutes in when Josh changed the call, and the new sound immediately drew a coyote skirting the edge of the field. Josh changed the call again, and the coyote ran into the field toward the caller. The coyote acted like it had been hunted before and ran back into cover before I could get a shot. After changing the sounds on the caller, the old yote darted back into the field and charged the caller. Josh barked. It stopped the coyote in its tracks, giving me time to center the crosshair and kill the coyote as it stood there.
We drove several miles into a pasture with eroded creek bottoms and steep rocky outcrops. The area looked ideal for calling. The rough terrain always conjures up visions of cats, and finding a bobcat is always a priority. I hunted the spotted cats for years before finally taking one in Oklahoma. I still have my hope that taking a second will not take as long. I mentioned my desire to find a bobcat to Josh, and he said he had a few tricks that might help draw one into the open.
We walked down a draw and sat on flat rocks overlooking a large basin. The e-caller was placed about 50 yards below in the brush. A squealing, dying rabbit call echoed down the draw, and seconds later, we spotted coyotes headed in our direction. The trio ran up and into the brush about 300 yards down the draw. We picked the brush apart, trying to locate the dogs, but nothing showed. The trick is always to spot them before they spot you.
Without warning, the first yote ran through the brush and did get our wind. That sent it high tailing for safer ground. The second one wasn’t as lucky. A beautiful white-chested coyote poked its head from cover and stood looking toward the caller. At 75 yards, the riflescope reticle locked on its chest, and that coyote did not know what hit it.
Josh knew the game well and immediately changed the call. Two minutes later, three coyotes ran in from the right and almost hit the e-caller as they dispersed. They came from around the hill we were sitting on and broke out about 30 yards below us. I fired at a running dog, and Josh followed up, but neither touched a hair.
The wind made conditions challenging, and we tried draws and protected areas. The hidden honey holes produced many coyote and bobcat tracks, letting us know we were in the right spots. We tried one last set as the sun sank into the western sky. We placed the caller at an intersection of two trails on a rise to watch down on the location. I was standing and set my rifle on shooting sticks. Two minutes into the session, a big male yote came running full speed at the call and stuck his nose on it before turning and running for cover. With my scope on low power, the coyote centered behind the crosshair. The resounding “whack” of a successful shot ended our day.
The next morning, Tyler Beam, the second brother in the outfit, joined me. We were focused on a bobcat and set up adjacent to a wetland where he had seen cats. We gave it 40 minutes before moving on. The next stop was above a steep creek bed. We called for a half hour before making another move. Cats are not always cooperative, and so moving to find a receptive feline can be required.
We set up adjacent to a rocky plateau that dropped into a creek. It looked like great cat country. We sat on chairs in the brush and set the caller in the grass about 60 yards upwind. Tyler ran his call routine as I stared intently at the area across from us.
We had not been sitting long when I saw a cat standing in the grass and staring at the caller. My crosshair steadied on the cat’s chest as it faced me, and I slowly squeezed the trigger. At the rifle’s report, the cat collapsed in its tracks. We called for a few more minutes hoping the cat had a mate, but when nothing showed, it was time to check out our prized kitty. The big male cat was gorgeous, with unique markings and coloration. Tyler beamed with excitement and pride, showing his knowledge of the ranch and ability to call cats. It had been a crazy week of deer, hogs and coyotes, and the bobcat was a big crescendo.
I was ecstatic, finishing my Texas slam of Whitetail deer, hogs, coyotes, and a bobcat. I hope to return to deer hunt next year but will plan on a predator adventure.
The Trijicon Credo HX has a tactical design that easily acquires a target. The wide field of view was perfect for moving targets and situational awareness. The reticle designs made it easy to find the target and confidently shoot.
There is a choice between red and green illumination and a center-aiming dot that draws your eye for precision bullet placement. The riflescope provided a bright, clear image from edge to edge and worked well even for night hunting. The toolless windage and elevation are easy to adjust and have zero-stop adjusters. A large repositioning magnification lever made it easy to change power without taking my eye out of the scope. Find more information here.
The Springfield Waypoint bolt-action rifle offers an ultralight design with precision and accuracy. The rifle has features from a fluted bolt, TriggerTech trigger, and AG composite stalk.
The hand-laid AG composite stalk features bedding pillars and multiple QD pockets for adding a sling. The fore-end has three M-Lok slots on the bottom. The Waypoint model used had a carbon fiber barrel weighing 6.5 pounds. The rifle had a fit and feel that proved value on the range and for hunting deer and predators. For more information on the rifle, visit this site and for more on AG Composite stalks, https://www.agcomposites.com/