I like to mix my hunts up and not do the same animals a lot. My first big game hunt was with Steve Jones of Back Country Hunts eons ago for pronghorns. I got a nice at 265 with my .338 JDJ. Steve was a nice guy and he put on a good hunt. I was hooked for life.
I noticed an add of his for Carmen Mountain Whitetails in west Texas. I gave him a call. He explained Carmens are a little smaller than Coues and geographically isolated from them. Sounded like my kind of thing. Faye was up for an adventure, so I signed on.
Getting there was an adventure itself. Fly to El Paso, drive to Marfa, then go 35 miles on the most godforsaken, roughest, rockiest road I've ever seen. The camp was some very old buildings transformed to small bunk houses. A generator provided electricity a few hours a day. No heat at night, just sleeping bags. Been there, done that, but not Faye. She was a trooper and toughed it out without a complaint.
I was the only handgunner in camp, as usual, but several tech guys from Ruger were there the week before. They killed all their game with .44 revolvers (don't know what) from 140-180 yards. THey also tested a new handgun rest that was a tripod with a single screw on top that fitted only to the grip of the revolver. Looked strange, but the guides said it worked.
The first day was surprising for the game I saw- beaucoup javelina, lots of desert mulies (no big horns), a fair number of big bodied elk (no big horns), and just a few Carmens (no bucks).
For three days, including one of rain, we glassed until my eyes were ready to pop. Javelina and mulies were taken by the other 4 hunters in camp. The other whitetail hunter and I saw one- maybe- shooter.
Day 4 was cold and clear. Steve parked on the highest knob around and we glassed for 4 hours. He finally spotted a shooter about 2 1/2 miles away. It was bedded. He placed guides on several knobs to watch the buck while we moved on it. My brain said "that's a long way, old man. Got in in you?"
WE were able to drive a little over a mile away from the buck. We were still 3 ridges away from the deer. He was still bedded. Steve asked if I could do the walk- 15-20* slope, massive amounts of rocks from 3" to boulder size, and tons of brush, all with stickers. My brain said, "are you crazy", but I told Steve I'd give it a try.
The stalk was memorable. Slipping, tripping, sweating, breathing hard, falling for the next hour+. We finally got to the ridge before the deer. Steve ranged him at 350. I said I was ready. He said we need to get closer. That's guide talk for "I got a chubby old man, breathing hard, with a damn handgun. No way I'm letting him screw this up. We gotta get a lot closer." We trucked on.
The cover ran out at 265 yards. There were several large rocks that I could put my backpack on, not flat, but upright
Notice the largest bushy cedar on the upper right of the photo on the far ridge. The buck was 30 yards to the left.
Steve mashed the little brush down with his Bog Pods. The buck saw the commotion and stood up. It was now or never. I was on auto pilot. Crosshair slightly above the center of the shoulder, squeeze the trigger, and send the old 120 gr. Nosler Solid Base on its way. I hear a loud POP! and the deer drops straight down. I say, as I do on all my hunts," Did I hit it?"
Steve says, "My God, you dropped it. I don't believe you made that shot". The 2 guides radioed and said the same thing.
Steve said I could head back to the truck and he and a guide would bring it back. That wasn't right. I slipped, tripped, and cussed another 265 yards (felt like a mile) to the deer
Notice a few things. No brow tines, very narrow spread. Steve said this was in the upper 10% of Carmens. I'll show you a photo of Steve with a better view of the mass on the deer.
You can also see my walk on this photo. Look 4 ridges back in the center. The truck is at the bottom of that ridge.
After helping clean the deer Steve said I could start back while one guide came to help him pack it out. I thought downhill would be easy, but I slipped, tripped, cussed, and sweated all the way back. I got to the truck the same time as Steve.
That night in camp each guide came up to me and said they couldn't believe a man my age could have made that walk. I'm still feeling the effects of it now.
It was a challenging, hard hunt, and I'm proud to have made it (at my age). But, I have to admit that west Texas is "No country for old men!"