The Time It Takes To Hunt
The truck thermometer said 28° as we headed towards our stand. Now in the eleventh day hunting for a Central Texas whitetail, my cameraman and I are tired and frustrated. This relatively small ranch has an abundance of deer and we have seen quite a few each time out, but for some reason we haven’t been able to get a mature buck on videotape.
In the past 10 days of this hunt, I had seen five mature bucks. There is a big difference between seeing one and killing one on camera. On one buck a tree limb was in the way, while two other bucks just wouldn’t stand still long enough. Then the other two bucks came out just as we ran out of camera light. “Today is a new day,” I said quietly as we climbed into the stand. We sat trying to stay warm and waited for enough light to see. Finally, I made out 6 deer at about 100 yards as they moved away. “We’ll have enough camera light in about 15 minutes,” my cameraman whispered.
I began to question the entire trip and wondered at what point do we call it and go home. Our audience wants to see a hunt ending with a downed animal, but little does the audience know about the investment of time to get a half-hour program shot.
For years the most commonly asked question I receive is “how long does it take to do a 30 minute show?” There is no single answer. Sometimes it does happen quickly but not very often. In this case it has taken way too long.
As the sun came up over the trees a group of 3 bucks headed towards our setup. At 20 yards they stopped and looked us over thoroughly. With them all being young, I chose to pass. After they left I told my cameraman, “The first old buck that shows up is in trouble.” He nodded. About an hour later our luck changed. Six bucks headed our way. The last one was mature.
I could hear the camera recording over my shoulder and I knew the video had to be perfect. “Shoot him now,” said the cameraman. I did and in a split second the deer was on the ground 30 yards in front of me.
We wrapped up the show and headed home. Our luck had finally changed and we were glad. But if we were to tell our viewers how long it actually took, then they would probably never believe it. Sometimes our hunts are longer and more difficult than people would imagine. When you deal with unpredictable wild animals and Mother Nature, you do the best you can.
The best reward for me isn’t the meat or the antlers, but it is the memories each hunt creates.