By: Ted Nugent
I constantly celebrate my extreme good fortune to share deerhunting campfires with the best people that roam the earth. Life’s blessings in the deerhunting world come in many forms, but to connect so intimately so often every season with so many great families could very well be the greatest blessing of them all.
My annual 777 Ranch deerhunt in Hondo Texas is a perfect example of such a grand experience. Each January I join legendary international professional big game hunter Jeff Rann and his wonderful wife Kwezi and team at this amazing wildlife paradise and historical whitetail deer hunting destination in South Texas.
Great Americans from every walk of life descend on this great lodge and whitetail mecca with me, and to say we have the greatest deercamp fun available to mankind is an understatement.
More often than not I am joined by family groups where husbands and wives, fathers and sons and mothers and daughters choose this camp to further the hunting family bond, and for that I am humbled and very grateful.
From the great state of Idaho, I was joined by the father and son team of Mike, Tyler and Todd Jones, a lifetime dedicated hunting family that has pursued special campfires all around the world together.
You could tell right away that their hunting family bond was as tight as it can be with these guys and they brought a soaring positive spirit and energy to our hunt.
All three would be hunting with rifles, but Tod had a classic old .54 caliber flintlock and also dressed in full period regalia right down to the handmade elk moccasins and bullhorn powder horn.
On my first night out, I lucked into a beautiful 10 point bowkill with a real pretty arrow from my Mathews and along with other successful hunters unleashed a joyous celebration around the dinnertable together.
Todd shared his painful story of an uncertain shot on a beautiful 10-point buck where the deer was blown off its feet but gathered itself up for a hasty departure before Todd could reload his front-stuffer antique arm.
Every hunter knows how that hurts.
All the hunters continued to enjoy morning and evening hunts as Todd returned to his original stand each day with hopes of seeing the same buck for a finishing shot.
After three days you can imagine the frustration and letdown Todd was experiencing having not seen the trophy buck again at any point.
With only one afternoon hunt left, in his frustration Todd decided to try another spot and I volunteered to hit a treestand along the creek leading up to the deerblind where his shot had gone astray with emphatic instructions to try and kill the big 10-pointer if I had the chance.
It was a wild roll of the dice to say the least, but it was worth a last ditch try, so off we went.
It was a warm, sunny afternoon with a big moon, and accordingly deer movement was minimal, except for that magical bewitching hour at dusk.
That finely tuned lifetime predator instinct of mine kicked in real strong at one point, and I very cautiously and ultra-slowly pivoted my head, straining to scan 180 degrees behind me the best I could with my peripheral eyesight when I saw him.
Standing in the distant shadows along the creeks edge like a statue, was the gorgeous stag that Todd had described in detail, and I froze in place hoping for a miracle.
After a long, patience testing spell to the point where I thought my neck, back and eyeball muscles would give way, the buck finally made his move and tip-toed behind me to the south.
This was my chance to carefully turn back the other way, and after quite a while, the buck emerged from the puckerbrush tangles 30 yards off my left shoulder.
I could now see a slight hairless smudge mark on his rear back, confirming the hit from Todd’s .54 caliber slug, and with a life of its own, my lifetime mystical flight of the arrow muscle memory drive flowed like the wings of an angel, and my lighted nock vanished in a swoosh tight behind the beast’s shoulder.
Well, you can imagine the additional joy of such a moment where everything appeared to be against me but the God of hunter luck was at my side when I needed Him the most, and we had full-on spirit liftoff!
I immediately texted Todd and Jeff and I can just imagine the whooping and hollering that erupted over at their position.
I think we all know the mandatory list of essential procedures and rules of engagement in order to successfully overcome the endless obstacles of bowkilling wary whitetail deer. But we can also agree on the do or die critical importance of good old lady luck, and there is no question that the finicky gal was with me on this last evening bowhunt to help bring Todd’s deer to ground.
Grand toasting, laughter and celebratory goings on went well into the night around the fire this happy evening, and I would be confident saying that, though every hunting camp bond is precious and powerful, the bond shared by Todd and I this day was a few notches higher than usual as we tag teamed a Texas trophy buck of a lifetime.
Spirit BloodBrothers are always there for each other, and this experience cemented it in stone.