One way or the other.
It was hot, way too hot, the wind was blowing like crazy, and there were rattlesnakes everywhere. In other words, it was your typical West Texas deer hunt. Actually, it was typical in that you couldn't predict the West Texas weather. The last time I had hunted the Nail Ranch, on the same early December weekend, we had 24 hours of snow. This time it was heat and those darned rattlesnakes. I mean, you'd have thought it was National Rattlesnake Day, or something.
However, one presses on. My assignment was rather simple and straightforward. As a guest of Thompson/Center, I was to take one of the good Nail Ranch whitetail bucks with an Encore pistol in 7 x 30 Waters, kill him clean, shoot some photos, and be back at the lodge in time for cocktails. My hunting pal, John Wootters, assured me that, with our collective years of experience, we were up to the task ... particularly the part about the cocktails.
But we hadn't counted on the weather not cooperating, not to mention the rattlesnakes. Now Wootters, besides being one of the greatest outdoor writers of our time, is an exceptionally knowledgeable, if amateur, herpetologist. A trait we do not share. So I tried to put the snakes out of my mind. Besides, as John so succinctly pointed out, they do occasionally bite tourists.
Our guide, Calvin, had located a hill that overlooked a mesquite flat that was alive with whitetail deer. While glassing from the hill, we spotted two really nice 8-point bucks and a better than average 10-pointer. The only problem was that, with the heavy wind, they were staying in the thick mesquites and out at quite a distance, like 500 yards, or more. And I was supposed to shoot one with a pistol? Right! Even the good T/C Encore wasn't up to that task.
The big 10-point fed along and wandered a bit closer to our hill. Wootter's range finder told him that the buck was a bit over 300 yards away. I just looked at my pistol and shook my head. But, just then, a delightful solution occurred to me.
Being a trained investigator, I noticed that Calvin had a T/C Encore rifle in the front of the truck. I quickly grabbed his 7ram-08 and sat down to take a good shooting rest. The wind was so stiff that I had to hold completely off of the buck in order to have any hopes of slipping the 140 gr. bullet in to where it would collect my trophy. Well, for once the red gods smiled and sent my bullet into the deer's lungs for a clean kill. I was ready for the cocktails part of our schedule.
Two things occurred to me about this hunt. First is that T/C guns, in any configuration, will get the job done for the serious hunter. And, second, it's best to stay out of West Texas on National Rattlesnake Day.