TEXAS TEN by Ted Nugent
I never really stop hunting. It is indeed a cherished, time honored lifestyle for me. A wonderful, totally alive, day by day celebratory outdoor lifestyle of great, deeply appreciated, heartfelt gratification. Self-sufficiency. Rugged individualism. Hands-on conservation. Private land ownership. Property rights. Privacy rights. Experimenting in “self-government”. We the people resource ownership and stewardship. The right to keep and bear arms. Live free of die. Don’t tread on me. Surely the ultimate American Dream the way I see it. Independent. Free. Self evident truth, God given right’s. Pursuit of happiness guaranteed. Perfect. You can’t do this in France.
The supremely enjoyable daily routines of checking my trapline, killing varmints, choosing and planting foodplots, running irrigation, positioning new deerstands, constructing groundblinds, upgrading old ones, checking fences and gates, filling waterholes and feeders, trimming shooting lanes, practicing with rifles, handguns, shotguns and bows, arranging and upgrading targets and ranges, training dogs and introducing new people to the joys of shooting, watching and studying wildlife and constantly strategizing ambush zones for my hunting clients, and more, are all chores and enjoyable outdoor activities that I really look forward to each day. Rocking my brains out nearly 100 concerts per year pretty much keeps me busy throughout the summer any way you cut it, so these wonderful activities which I live for in between rockouts do indeed keep me bright eyed and bushy tailed in a constant, energized way. When the actual official hunting season shows up in the fall of the year, my state of mind doesn’t need too much adjusting back to my natural predator mode and spirit. In fact, with the amazing year round hunting opportunities for exotic wildlife in my new adopted homestate of Texas, there are not any “No Hunting” days in my life. How cool is that? Godbless Texas, Godbless America and Godbless the beasts all!
Back in my ancestral homegrounds of Michigan, the seasonal changes are palpable. The air tastes different. Dramatic change is tangible. The planets do indeed realign and there is a mystically altered pulse in the wind. Ya gotta love that. Meanwhile, in the great Republic of Texas, one must routinely check the calendar so see if summer will ever end. Texas is hot. Usually hotter. For an old dyed-in-the-wool Michiganiac, it is a bit of a psychological adjustment to deal with all this blazing sunshine and brutal heat. But as a guitarplayer-cum-U.S. Marine, I can improvise, adapt and overcome with the best of them. And I do. There is no Plan B. It is time.
So it was, as the blistering fireball in the LoneStar sky grilled my inner being, nonetheless, the calendar read October and my spirit insisted on liftoff. All that dedicated boot time on my hunting grounds had kept me abreast of whitetail activity, and this day I chose a tall ladderstand nestled deep, and hidden within the green embrace of a tall pine tree overlooking a winding, rocky creek course amongst the thorny screen of greenbriar, assorted impenetrable tangles and relentless juniper. A line of huge, towering pecan and live oak trees made up the forest before and behind me, and with the gentle southwest breeze, my confidence ran high. It is always a roll of the hunter’s dice, but we had a full on backstrap mojo going on this day. I could feel it. You never know, but we always hope.
After a long wait, the eye-candy parade of beautiful, sleek, healthy does and fawns ghosted from the shadows as the sun dipped lower. Some of the whitetails were red, some brown, others slate grey. A few of the fawns still showed remnant spots, confirming that the breeding does indeed continue well into winter. Momentarily, a small forked horn, a spike and a fat, muscular, slick six joined the group. My elevated ambush hideout gave me a perfect viewing position to watch the group of 20 plus deer carryon undisturbed, and again provided me the greatest joy that is being a hunter. To be on the inside of their natural world has a powerful healing and calming effect on me, and I studied each animal in detail through my Yukon binoculars. Mutual grooming, prancing, kicking, nipping, licking, head butting, sparring, browsing and constantly examining their surroundings with an uncanny alertness entertained me completely. I love every minute of such encounters and it represents a prime allure to the great outdoors lifestyle. The critters never let you down and there is never a dull moment.
Early season bucks tend to hang out in bachelor groups, and the slight glint of bone through the scrub materialized into antlers as five stud boys emerged from the tangle down below. The first two were handsome 2-3 year old eight pointers, followed by a 3-4 year old 9, then another young eight. It was the arrival of massive, tall, wide, light colored antlers that got me. With a dandy set of impressive antlers towering over his distinctive, Roman nosed face, one hog of a mature buck strode up the creek embankment and waddled into view. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that Texas whitetails are small, for this old granddaddy of a buck was every bit as fat, muscular and heavy as a Kansas or Michigan brute up North. I could tell by the deep chest and brisket, and the fat belly that I had before me a 7+ year old trophy. Now the slight trembling began.
Slowly lifting my binocular, I examined this fine buck carefully and realized that I knew this old boy. I had encountered him in this same grove late last season. His distinctive white legs and exaggerated white facial markings clearly identified him as my old buddy. My bow was already at half mast, Scott release locked onto my bowstring, and my mind made up.
The does and fawns and younger bucks backed away as the old boy strode toward the small piles of Wildlife Innovations Buck bran I had put out as an attractant, and now my inner predator ballet was going into the gutpile pirouette hyper two step. I dance divinely.
A slight screen of leaves on a young cedar elm separated my arrow from his vitals, so I had no clear shot. It doesn’t take much interference to deflect a speeding arrow, so I held tight. As goes bowhunting, the big boy kept his forward shoulder toward my position for a long while, and life around me ceased to exist. It was just his ribcage and my broadhead that existed, nothing else.
With a graceful swing of his long neck and head, he took a step to his right, bringing his bulky chest clear of any obstruction, and the mushy 55# CP Oneida bow flexed back smoothly on its own. I zeroed in dead on the crease behind his left foreleg, and the next thing I knew, big white feathers were dangling out of his armpit as he and all the other deer exploded at once. Angling forward as he had turned, the zebra colored GoldTip shaft had surely sliced through his ribs and into the life pumping heart of the old beast, his sagging hindquarters telling of his imminent demise. Big Jim swung the SpiritWild vidcam from the now departed buck’s vaportrail, onto my now smiling, giddy face for the whole word to share, and I was one happy American bowhunter to say the least.
We captured on tape all the glory and joy of this wonderful, perfect hunting connection, then filmed the short, quick bloodtrail and recovery to the heartshot monster. Everytime we collect these wildlife gifts, a Nuge party erupts in the forests and wildgrounds of the world, knowing and celebrating the thrills of being so intimately functional as a beneficial, positive participant in this natural tooth, fang and claw world. Every exacting nuance and detail of the pre-event, anticipation, encounter, shot preparation and intense action is relived and articulated as clearly as possible, so that the viewer of our Spirit of the Wild TV shows and videos better understands the depth of spirit, form and function of the real world that we are living and documenting. Life and death is it. It is perfect. Shame on those who pretend otherwise. Rejoice to be a player.
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