Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dream Hunt

What a Weekend!

Dec 11th-13th: The weekend of Joshua's Dream Hunt trip.

We left Friday morning, December 11th heading through Uvalde and into Del Rio, which is near the border with Mexico. Just northwest of Del Rio, we were directed to look for Allen Ranch Road. That is where the private property is located where we were to go deer hunting for the tv show.

We arrived around 2:30 in the afternoon. We knew we were at the right place when we saw the pickup truck parked out front. It was plastered with camouflage and TNT Outdoor Adventures logos.

I had been worried a bit about our accomodations. Would we be sleeping in a tent or a small shack, or at somebody's house on the couch? I had no idea. My husband even asked me on our way if they'd told me for us to pack sleeping bags or something. "No," I said. But I did make sure we had pillows and blankets just in case.

Little did I know the spot they had arranged for the hunt was the 16,000 acre Texas Antlers Ranch. And we'd be staying at a practically brand new lodge that resembled a log cabin. The place is BEAUTIFUL. Below are some pictures I took:

We took our stuff inside and checked out our room. It was great. We had a nice big bed and Josh had bunkbeds of his own. The windows and bedspreads were white with little deer on them. We also had a large bathroom with 2 showers and double sinks. It was stocked with toiletries and even a hair dryer.

Outside our room was the great room with a living area... which had a rock wall fireplace (kind of like our old house in Odessa had - I sure miss our old fireplace), a big kitchen and dining tables. And we would have our very own chef! She already had snacks available for us if we'd like - homemade chocolate chip cookies, fruit, and chips!

The guys had to hurry and get changed. It was time for Josh to do some practice shots with the gun they had for him to use. Then it was off to the deer blind.
There was only room in the blind for four people. Josh, his guide, the photographer and one other person could go. Josh really wanted me in there with him, but I talked him into letting his dad go - it would really make James' day to see Josh get a deer. And I could always see it later. So, Josh agreed and they set off to hunt, while I stayed back at the lodge.

James and Josh were super excited at the opportunity to go on this guided deer hunt. While they were out, they saw lots of deer and even spotted the one buck they were hoping Josh could shoot. But the deer never gave them a clear shot. So, they came back empty handed the first night. Not to worry, though. They would have a second chance Saturday morning. And for dinner.... big, juicy, thick steaks with all the fixings!

We also spent the evening taking a few more pictures of the lodge:

We awoke Saturday around 4:30AM so the guys would be ready to leave for the blind by 5:45AM. Our chef promised to get up and fix cinamon rolls for us, then a bigger sit-down breakfast for after the hunt.
Again, I hung out at the lodge and visited with the show host, Todd Cast and our chef, Donna Wimberly. I also watched a little TV, and took a nice warm shower.
After a while, as I wondered how things were going out at the blind, the ranch owner, Johnny Allen poked his head in saying they were asking for more feed out near the blind. He asked if the guys in the lodge (Todd Cast and Tommy Wimberly (Donna's husband and a manager at the ranch) if they'd like to ride along. I asked if there was room for me, too. I had not had a chance to see where this blind was and figured it would be nice to get a look. They said "sure" and we headed out.
Even though it was kind of chilly outside, it was nice in the vehicle we were riding in, so I didn't take my jacket. I figured we'd be back shortly. But I was wrong.
After we got into the field approaching the blind, but still a good ways off, we got a message from the guide telling us to stop. That usually means a deer is presenting that could be in position to shoot and we don't want to spook it. A few minutes later, we got the all-clear. So, we proceeded on. That happened a couple of times before we got to the blind. But both times we got the go-ahead to come on.
We turned the corner in front of the blind and I waved to the guys as we passed. We pulled up a ways down the road in front and released corn onto the dirt road along the way. Then, we stopped and the owner hopped out and grabbed a bag of something the guys referred to as "protein" and he ran out in front of the vehicle and poured some out. He put the half-full bag back into the back of the truck and got in, and started it. We drove away slowly and started back for the lodge.

We didn't get too far, when we got another message saying "stop." We were especially surprised because we figured we'd probably scared off any deer in the area and it would take awhile for them to come in to eat after we left. But not long afterwards we got the message that the deer was down! Josh had shot his first deer and it was down!
It was going to be a quite some time now before any of us was going back to the lodge. And in fact, we were all going to be out in the chilly air checking out that deer of Joshua's. Luckily, James lent me his jacket. He had on more layers of clothing than I did, so he was kind of hot anyway.

Well, unlike most hunts, Josh couldn't go over to his kill right away. This one was for a tv show and was being filmed. The photographer had to shoot some things several times from different directions. So, it took awhile.

We were all there when he finally did get to go over and see his deer for the first time. And yes, the camera caught his reaction. For that, you'll have to wait for the show to air (which is supposed to take a few months).

But I did get some still pictures to share:

While we were still out in the field on our way back to the lodge, the ranch owner made some phone calls. By the time we got back near the lodge and barn (where the deer would be taken to be cleaned), quite a crowd had gathered. There was a newspaper reporter, one of the men who lease part of the ranch, other hunters and several people who work the ranch.
Joshua's prize deer was unloaded and setup by the lodge, so that the name of the ranch could be seen in some more pictures. Below are some of those pictures:

Before we finished taking pictures there, the rancher's wife and children showed up with the taxidermist. They had some gifts for Josh and told us they were going to have Joshua's deer mounted for us for FREE! (We later found out that work usually costs several hundred dollars) And they would even have the mounting finished and sent to us by Christmas - which is super fast!
Soon, everyone (but me) was headed for the barn with the deer to clean it and have it officially weighed and scored. And they tell me they even smeared deer blood on Joshua's face to Christen him to the sport. Although that sounds a bit gross to me. Anyway, the blood was wiped off by the time he came back to the lodge for our very late breakfast/brunch meal.
After we ate, we got another surprise. The folks at the ranch had talked with the show crew and decided since we still had so much hunt time left, and they were feeling so generous, they would take Josh's dad - James out and let him try for a deer, too! Not much could have made James more happy that afternoon!
Before the evening hunt, even the Val Verde County Sheriff dropped by to visit Josh and give him a little gift.
Josh decided to come back to the lodge with me and rest while his dad got his shot at hunting. He busied himself watching the deer that come to feed just outside the lodge. He even took a few pictures. But after just a little while, the "limo" (a camo covered suburban) was summoned to come out and pick up the hunter, guide and tv show photographer as James had made his kill!
Everyone in the lodge jumped in for the ride this time. We were so excited to see what size deer James had got. But the sun was dropping fast, so we had to get there in a hurry! And there were so many deer all over the place, I was afraid we were going to run over one (or more) on the way!
Here's what we found when we got out to the deer blind this time:

Sunday morning, we were told we'd made the front page of the Del Rio newspaper! They said there was only one mistake in it. They had written that we are from Uvalde. (not sure why they would have thought that). We stopped at the HEB in Del Rio on our way back home and picked up a few copies of the paper so we could have a look and to share with others. Here's what was on the front page:

And here is the story inside:

Below are some links to websites for more information about the TV show, the ranch where we hunted, the taxidermist preparing Josh's and James' deer and the place where the deer meat is being processed:

The show is Cast of Dreams on TNT Outdoors Explosion.

Here is their website:

Texas Antlers is the ranch with the great lodge where we stayed.

Here is their website:

The taxidermist mounting the deer is Carmen Cantu of RC Taxidermy Wildlife Studio in Del Rio.

Here is her website:

And the meat processing place is Uvalde Meat Market and Processing run by the Jackowski family.

Here is their website:

1 comment:

Hog Hunting Texas said...

Its a very nice post i think you are having a great time over there, thanks for sharing.

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