I’ve heard those words “like shooting fish in a barrel” more times in my life than I can remember. But never had I heard them when it came to hunting white-tailed deer until we started our project to put up a high fence around our near 1 square mile ranch in South Texas and outfit it for managing the trophy-class white-tailed deer that live there today.
I suppose when you first think about it it might seem that easy. Put up a high fence that keeps the big deer in; set out a few corn feeders to attract those deer; put up a deer blind to oversee each corn feeder; and when deer season opens up, head out to the nearest blind right before daybreak and just sit back and wait for that big 250+ Boone & Crockett, 6 and half year-old buck to come on by for a snack…and boom, you’re taking home the biggest trophy you’ve ever seen. Just like “shooting fish in a barrel.”
Anyone who’s spent at least a few hours seriously hunting in the thick and varied brush of the South Texas Plains has figured out that taking home that big trophy is way harder than it might seem. While our ranch, TheRanch@Camp Ka Hui ‘Ana, might be considered small in comparison to the nearby 10,000+acre ranches, it’s nearly a square mile of thick, mixed brush crisscrossed by a few Sendero’s or “cuts” through the brush and dotted with a handful of fields. That brush…mesquite, twisted acacia, huisache, black brush, white brush, granjeno, guayacan, guajillo, prickly-pear cactus and more…is many times so thick the only way to get through it is to crawl on your belly along one of the trails the wild hogs have managed to bulldoze through it. Don’t even start thinking about trying to track a deer through the thick patches of prickly-pear cactus. Not sure about you, but I don’t want to be spending days pulling thorns out of my hide. This land can be unforgiving and as one of my uncle’s used to tell me, “everything down there stings, sticks, or bites.” I don’t know anybody that thinks it’s easy to hunt an animal or track one after it’s been hit in this terrain.
On many days, as you walk around the property enjoying the cooler morning air and the quiet – that comes with likely being miles away from the nearest other person – it’s easy to believe you’re the only breathing thing here other than the birds, rabbits, and lizards. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent hours walking the grounds at different times of the day or night and not seen a single animal. Or how many times, I’ve sat in that deer blind I was talking about above overlooking that corn feeder and nothing came by, that’s right, nothing. The animals that call TheRanch home, white-tailed deer, wild hogs, coyotes, bobcats, and all the rest know this square mile better than anyone else and they all know how to disappear and make your job of scouting for, tracking, and hunting them a challenge. “Like shooting fish in a barrel?” I don’t think so!
Those big, world-class bucks by the way, contrary to what some might think, don’t “grow on trees.” We’ve spent over the last 7 years scouting, monitoring and managing our herd to ensure our bucks are the healthiest they can be and have the opportunity to develop their body mass and antler growth to their fullest potentials. Easy it’s not been.
So yes, when you join us at TheRanch@Camp Ka Hui ‘Ana for the opportunity you’ve waited years for, we’ll get you up before the break of dawn, we’ll warm you up and get you going with some hot coffee and warm baked goods, and we’ll head out to that blind overseeing a corn feeder or to a field where you can use your own rattle while scouting and still hunting and we’ll make sure you’re set you up for the hunting experience of a lifetime. Thanks to the days and weeks our head guide and the owner have put into learning the habitat, getting to know and identifying the patterns and movements of our white-tailed deer and especially our bucks, you’ll have the best opportunity possible to take home that world-class trophy white-tailed deer. It will be a challenge, you’ll have to do your part, and it will be well be worth it. “Like shooting fish in a barrel?” You decide!