Night Hawk Stories... Entry 34
Where You'll See Numbers of Unbelievable Bucks
EDITOR'S NOTE: How much does taking a trophy buck cost a hunter? You may not truly want to know. If you calculate the prices of transportation, food, lodging, a lease, a hunting license, time away from work and other expenses of taking a trophy white-tailed buck, you'll find that the average hunter spends a minimum of between $2,000 and $5,000 a year - whether he's hunting with a bow, a black-powder gun or conventional weapon. Since often a deer hunter will hunt for five to 20 years attempting to take a trophy buck, that buck can cost from $25,000 to $100,000. Think about how many years you may hunt without bagging a big buck. Then you'll realize how much money, time and energy go toward that one opportunity to bag the buck of lifetime with your bow.
When I first went to a free-ranging trophy deer ranch to hunt, I wanted to shoot every time I spotted a 130-point class Boone & Crockett buck. But in four days I saw 11 bucks that would score 130 points or better B & C. I had difficulty deciding which buck I wanted to ride with me back to camp in the pick-up truck at the end of the day. When hunting at the Ford Ranch near Melvin and the Quinn Ranch in Brady, both in central Texas, like me you'd have a problem deciding which big buck to take. I saw more trophy bucks and quality bucks in four days at these ranches than I'd seen in a lifetime of hunting all across the U.S.
When I arrived at the Ford Ranch, I sat on my bunk and unpacked my gear. I heard approaching footsteps. The cabin door opened, and I saw an old friend I hadn't seen in years, Dr. Fenwick Nichols from Athens, Georgia. Although Nichols and I had hunted together off and on for years in Alabama, three or four years had passed since we'd seen each other.
When I asked Nichols why he had made a trip to the Ford Ranch to hunt, he answered, "I've been hearing about this place for several years. I had a hard time coming all the way to Texas to hunt whitetails when we had so many in Georgia and Alabama. But a friend of mine had told me about all the big bucks he and his party saw and took every season out here. I decided to come and see for myself. John, this hunting is even more fantastic than anyone has ever described."
Because Nichols, a very good hunter, had taken some nice deer in years past, I knew his excitement about a new hunting place really meant something. Since Nichols would leave the Ford Ranch the next day, I asked him if he had taken a buck yet.
Nichols smiled and suggested I, "Come over to the cooler with me, and let me show you the buck I took. I had trouble choosing which buck to shoot, but I believe I finally took the pick of the litter."
As we walked into the cooler and turned on the light, I thought I had entered the Hall of Horns. I saw more big bucks sporting trophy antlers there than I ever had seen anywhere else. Nichols had bagged the nicest buck in the cooler. His deer's antlers scored 148 points on the B & C scale -- a trophy anyone would love to take.
"You know, John, at first I thought $2,500 was terribly expensive for a four-day deer hunt," Nichols explained. "However, when I came and saw the quality and the number of bucks here at the Ford Ranch, I realized this hunt was really a cheap one. Just the chance to see that many bucks, whether I took one or not, was worth the price of the hunt. I'd never in my life had the opportunity to choose a trophy buck to take from 20 or 30 other bucks in four days.
You can contact the Ford Ranch at (915) 286-4572 and the Quinn Ranch at (915) 597-2647.
Tomorrow: Why So Many Trophy Bucks