A Little Piece of Heaven on Earth
Just a few days ago, I had the privilege of spending a bit time enjoying a short bow hunt for whitetail with a couple of newfound friends up in northeast Texas only 15 miles from where I cut my deer hunting teeth as a youngster, just over the county line in Red River County. Alan Walker and Jason Bolen own “Next Trip Whitetails” in Lamar County. Both hold down full time jobs, but they have spend every free hour the past few years creating what I consider to be a piece of outdoor heaven, especially for those of us that love hunting whitetail deer and almost nonstop action catching bass, crappie, catfish, and giant bluegills!
“When we started developing our hunting ranch a few years ago, we always left saying ‘Next trip, we will get around to doing one of many chores that always seemed to need doing”, said Walker, thus the name “Next Trip Whitetails.”
Alan and Jason are quick to point out that they are blue collar fellows and when they first began planning their hunting ranch, they wanted to create a place where the average guy or gal could come, relax and enjoy themselves in a “sure nuff” real world hunting situation. The cabins and lodging on their ranch are very clean and comfortable, but most definitely not the “fancy lodge” experience. This is a hunting ranch designed by hunters. MY kind of place!
When I pulled up to the ranch headquarters, the aroma of an oak wood campfire filled the air. Jason, Alan, and I sat around a rock fire ring and spent some time talking about some of our outdoor adventures and what the next day’s hunting might hold.
“Luke, I read your outdoor column this past week, where you mentioned that hunting a high fenced ranch can be equally challenging to free range. Alan said, “I think we will definitely find that to be the case on tomorrow’s hunt. The rut has not quite kicked in yet, and the bucks are still running in bachelor groups. Bow hunting is going to be challenging because, rather than having one buck come in to the feeder, we’re likely to have several sets of eyes and noses to contend with. It’s going to be challenging!” Challenge is what bow hunting is all about and one of the primary reasons that I enjoy hunting with my Darton bows. My goal was to harvest one of the “management” bucks that would score between 135 BC and 145 BC, but having the opportunity to make a couple of new friends and see the results of all their hard work was icing on the cake.
Alan served as my guide on this hunt and I welcomed having him there to help me judge the size of the bucks and hopefully give the nod for me to harvest one of those heavy horned management bucks. As Alan and I set in one of the roomy ground blinds, I watched a monster buck travel through the hardwoods, well out of bow range. My mind backtracked to the days when I was hunting deer on our little farm about 15 miles to the east. Back in the sixties, there were very few whitetail in our neck of the woods. A buck like the one I had just seen would have been fodder for may discussions around the old pot bellied stove at Dimple Store!
We truly are living in the “Good Old Days” of deer hunting and I was sitting right in the middle of some of the best “big buck” whitetail country I’ve hunted. With a little luck and if I did everything right, I could have a big buck on the meat pole by nightfall! During the morning hunt, Alan and I had several other deer, both bucks and doe, come through the woods where we were hunting, including a fine high, wide antlered eight-point that had my name written all over it, but as luck would have it, the buck stayed out about 50 yards eating acorns, well out of bow range.
Deer movement slowed around mid morning and we went back to camp and enjoyed a brunch of some of my homemade summer sausage, crackers, and cheese. I was highly impressed with the ranch and the deer we had seen on the morning hunt. I enjoy fishing as much as hunting, and the fishing talk the previous night around the campfire had me primed for some midday catching.
Usually, midday is not prime time for fishing but for a couple hours, we were busy hooking, fighting and releasing a smorgasbord of largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and some jumbo sized hybrid bream. The live minnows we were using for bait attracted them all. We left the little lake making plans to return and catch some for a fish fry of fresh crappie fillets.
After an hour or so of rest, we were back in the woods for our afternoon “sit” in another ground blind. The afternoon hunt was pretty much a repeat of the morning, but this time one of the biggest bucks on the ranch came by and allowed me to shoot some photos with my Nikon. A couple of management bucks that were just what I was looking for came through feeding on acorns, but never presented a bow shot that I was comfortable with. During the last few minutes of my hunt, just before darkness set in, we shifted gears and decided to try to take one of the big does that were also eating acorns out in front of the blind. As luck would have it, they also stayed just out of bow range.
I departed the ranch just after nightfall. I didn’t put a buck on the meat pole, but I had an awesome day in the outdoors and consider the outing a huge success. I’d made a couple of new friends and had the honor of spending time enjoying their little piece of outdoor heaven. I left making plans for “round two” with the whitetail when I have a bit more time to hunt.
Next Trip Whitetails is currently offering doe hunts for $300 and management buck/doe hunt combos at a very reasonable price. For more information visit Next Trip Whitetails on Facebook or call Alan Walker at 214-407-3533.
Listen to “Outdoors with Luke Clayton and Friends” on radio stations from Nebraska to Texas on weekends or anytime online at www.catfishradio.com.