While it was still dark, I went to the spot on the hillside where I had decided to sit and wait for morning shooting light. Down in the creek bottom the fog lay tight on the ground partially concealing the live-oaks and native pecan trees. It was cool, damp, and hard to stay awake.
I sat with my back against an old cedar stump, with a small algarita bush in front of me to break up my outline. My Ruger .44 Magnum Flat Top lay in my lap, stoked with 250 gr Keith SWC’s over a substantial load of 2400 powder.
As it began to get light enough to see, I realized that something was moving around on the banks of the dry creek bed. I was finally able to make out that it was a whitetail buck. A helluva buck!
Now, I don’t know much about all that “G-3” and “G-4” stuff. Let me just say that he was a big damn deer! He was a 10-point with massive bases and a spread that would go well over 20 inches. In short, he was one of the best whitetail bucks that I’ve ever seen in the wild. The wary old codger would feed a bit and then look around a bit, cautious but not worried. Having doped the ranges at this spot the day before, I figured him to be right at 250 yards away.
My personal limit, with an iron-sighted sixgun, is 100 yards. Out to that distance, I knew where the bullet would hit and I knew where to hold. I’d made up my mind, long ago, not to degrade a trophy by throwing an “iffy” shot at them. When he came in range, I would kill him, but not before.
I suspect that big buck fed around out there for the better part of an hour. As I watched him, the fog had lifted and we had the beginnings of a perfectly beautiful Texas Hill Country Day. To be honest with you, I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. That was one good buck and I had already imagined just where his trophy would hang on my wall.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. The closest that big buck got to me was about 175 yards. And he was in heavy brush as he wandered past my hill and headed towards a little saddle between it and the next rocky hillside. I never even cocked my single action, but I did tip my hat to him as he disappeared over that saddle. It was a helluva an experience and my own little hunting memory. By the way, though I hunted that ranch for several years afterward, I never saw this buck again.
That, my friends, is handgun hunting.