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North Texas Success

Sometimes I think Texas gets a bad rap. So many people assimilate Texas with the small bodied high fence deer of the southern part of the state. Those people are overlooking one of the best sleeper hunts in the nation. Myself, Nate and two of our friends Devon and Chris packed up last week and headed just north of Amarillo to hunt with Skillet Creek Outfitters. The owners Frank Sparling and James McClellan are great pals of ours and come up every year to chase fall bear. I discovers this jem a few years back and have been hooked ever since. The guys only take a few people a year, they don't charge trophy fees (shoot the biggest badest mother you can find), and they are affordable at 1800 for a 4 day hunt meals and lodging included.

Day 1
Well as with any adventure there are bumps in the road. Due to bad weather and the airline being run by not smart people, we had made it to Amarillo by morning (cool pun), but our luggage (guns included) was touring the country looking for us. Never to waste a hunt, we begged and borrowed some rifles from the locals. The first morning proved fruitful for everybody but me. Nate saw 5 shooter bucks, but all out a bit further than he wanted to shoot with an unfamiliar gun. Devon saw two 8 points and several does, Chris Calais shot a 250lb hog, and I saw na da.

That night was about the same. We all saw deer and some nice bucks in the mix, but we were reserved about shooting without our own guns.

Day 2
With our luggage back and guns in hand things were looking up. This day got started right off the bat. I got settled into the same morning spot as day one. James was sure the big boy would cruise by. As the sun started coming up I noticed moment in the treeline about 140 yards out. I was in a cut wheat field and facing where the deer were. Two deer came out and it took only seconds to figure out it was a shooter. As soon as James said he had it on camera I let the Howa .300 win mag bark.

We loaded up the deer and headed to breakfast. Frank's truck was outside and I noticed a huge buck in the back. Chris Calais had smoke a bruiser just after sun up as he tried to skirt though a creek bottom.

Nate and Devon had also seen some bucks but nothing close enough to shoot.
That night I sat with Nate, we saw lots of deer but no shooters. Frank set the scouting cam before we left to see what would come during the night.

Day 3
The action was hot as soon as you could see. Devon and his new cameramen (Mr. Tagged out Calais) were in the deer from the word go. 9 does and one 8 point gave chase all morning but Devon elected to hold out for something a bit bigger. Nate and I were covered up in deer. However, we only saw one shooter and the encounter was over before it got started.

That night Devon and Chris were once again covered in bucks and does chasing all over the place. A slightly larger buck made and appearance and it did not take the guys long to capitalize. Devon fired and the deer was dead before he hit the dirt.

As for Nate and I...... Well at 10 minutes to go on the game clock, here comes Mr. Big from the last night's scouting cam photos. This 150 class El Whopper come down the hill side and is on a course to give us a 100 yard shot. I was rolling some great footage and Nate was locked in. If it sounds too good..... it was. At the last minute the deer got spooked by something and bolts for the hill. He stopped briefly at 240 yards and Nate took a swing. The shot was high and the deer kept chugging. One more quick shot at 270 (also high) and the deer of a lifetime was gone. That night we all felt the lose of a missed opportunity. We have all been there and know how low it can be.

Day 4

Chris and Devon were left at camp this morning (bad idea) and we forgot to take their bullets. Unfortunately for them, a group of Rio Turkeys cam by camp. They are in season and can be shot with a rifle in Texas. Well you guessed it, ole "whack and stack" chased um down.

Nate was still in the slumps. So when he noticed a group of wild hogs coming our way, I gave him the thumbs up to get back on the saddle and shoot one. It took about a milli second and he was gun up. The ham on legs got to about 100 yards and caught our wind. Porky scrambled and Nate busted him up on the run at 240 yards. His spirit was lifted and the hunt for big bucks was back on.

That night we split up. Frank went with Nate to stalk draws and hunt for ole mossy. I "got" stuck guiding Armada (Frank's wife). I know it is rough, but I am a team player and just trying to help out (insert sarcasm here). Armada is a deer slayer. Her last buck score 156 and some change. Aside from being funny, and a hoot in the blind, she is a serious hunter and can drop the hammer when the pressure is on.
Armada and I sat a piece of land I knew well from hunting with Frank in the past. We got set up on the high ground and spent most of the afternoon glassing the draw and a island of trees in the middle. with about 45 minute till dark, I noticed 2 does come from the island and work through the draw. I ran some tape and went back to glassing. I could see a bit better where I was, as I had poor Armada stuffed behind a big yucca bush. about 10 minutes later I saw a huge body coming from the island. The deer picked up its head and I just about had to change my diaper. The monster walked around for about 10 minutes and I rolled some of the best footage I have ever got. The deer was making scrapes and lip curling checking for hot does. What an experience. I told Armada to get ready, a shooter was coming. After a bit of confusion, we got our act straight and she got off a shot. The buck did a nose dive and only went a short way. The deer was the talk of the town that night and rough scores about 155.


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2,093 Posts
Thanks for the story and pix. Congrats and it sure did sound like a great time. Someday, when my ship comes in, I'll join you.
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