By Lewis Ecker
My son, Michael, and I were hunting at the Ford Hood military reservation in central Texas. The land is divided into sections, and the post only allows so many hunters in each area.
We were lucky to draw a spot on the northwest side of the property. On the first afternoon of the hunt, we parked the truck, gathered our gear and set up by a ridge overlooking a deep valley. It was at least 400 yards to the bottom, with a stream running through the center of the valley.
We began to scan for rutting bucks chasing does. After about 30 minutes, I told Michael to sit tight and keep watching the area. I walked 200 yards back toward the truck and began scanning a different section. From this position, I could see a good half mile, but it was impossible to peer into the thick bottom.
Nearly 45 minutes passed and I began to ease my way toward the creek bottom. Once there, my cell phone started to vibrate. It was Michael. “Dad, there is a big buck chasing a doe down by the creek,” he said.
I told him I was at the creek, and had watched the buck and doe enter a big field on the other side.
Off I went with cell phone in hand. Michael could see my hunter’s orange from the top of the ridge. I quietly slipped to the edge of the field, using a downed tree for cover.
Phone still to my ear, I blew my grunt call. Michael got excited.
“Dad … dad, do you see the doe running right at you?”
“Dad! The doe is running straight at you, and the buck is right behind her!”
I thought I must be in the wrong field. Then the doe suddenly appeared about 25 yards in front of me. She approached within 8 feet, stopping behind a thick bush.
I could barely see her. Then I heard a low grunt directly in front of me.
I put the phone on the ground and turned slowly. The buck was 30 yards out and coming my way.
By the time I raised my 12-gauge Benelli, the buck was within 15 feet, but still focused on the doe. I placed the barrel bead on the vitals, and pulled the trigger. The monster dropped where it stood.
A loud yell went through the valley. My son was on top of the hill, jumping up and down shouting, “You got him!”
After tagging, dressing and loading the buck, off we went to the Fort Hood check station. The buck was one of the biggest deer taken on the reservation that season.