Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Covenant Ranch Day 1

Each year, by the generosity of the Phillips family, the Vision Forum staff gets to enjoy a few days off work and go down to Covenant Ranch, an 8,888 acre game ranch about 2 hours south of San Antonio. Now that I'm on staff, I was able to go this year! It was my first time ever hunting white-tailed deer, but that wasn't all. There were wild hogs, badger, coyote, foxes, and even the slim possibility of seeing a mountain lion! (though we didn't see any). The following is a hastily-scribbled journal entry chronicling the first day, along with some photographs I took during the trip.

Monday, February 8

Tyler and I headed out from San Antonio around 8:45 a.m. after washing dishes and loading our things into his car. We listened to the classic P.G. Wodehouse story "The Code of the Woosters" on the way down, and had a fairly uneventful 2.5 hour drive. We arrived at the ranch around 11:00 - a bit early - and met our camp hosts and hunting guides (who happened to be very good friends and colleagues).

The lodge was a great place for some good ol' R&R (Rest & Relaxation), especially when there are babies to hold!

I have been to the southern part of TX on two other occasions (though not this exact area), and Covenant Ranch is pretty much what I expected in terms of scenery and terrain. There aren't any real trees, just lots of low brush, mesquite, cactus and other spiny things. I commented to Tyler that if I had to guess where the Garden of Eden was, I would probably guess Texas. Think about it. When God cursed the ground, he said it would produce thorns and I can't think of a place with more spiny things than Texas! Anyways, that's kind of beside the point.

A path leading up to the lodge. There were LOTS of prickly pear cactus as you can see.

Tyler brought a brand new Remington 270 deer rifle with a Redfield scope, and since he hadn't had a chance to sight it in yet, Mr. Hart (one of our guides and a really good friend) offered to help him get it set up. We spent about an hour out at the range making micro-adjustments and getting the alignment just right. Now he's ready to go hurt some animals.

This afternoon I went out to hunt whitetails with Mr. Gobart. Our camp host, Mr. Turner, drove us out to our blind and spread some corn in several of our firing paths. We spent several hours in the blind until the sun went down and there was no longer enough light to see. Altogether we saw one decent buck (but we could only shoot does), 7 or 8 Javelina (a southern hog), lots of rabbits and birds (including Green Jay and Pyrrhuloxia!) but nothing I was able to shoot at.

One of the blinds we hunted out of

Once it became too dark to see, we packed up and headed back to the lodge to get some dinner. After eating some of us gathered upstairs to play pool, pingpong and other things. At around 10:00 we headed out for the evening varmint hunt. I went with Mr. Gobart, Matt, and Emily. We hunted the same blind Mr. G. and I had been in earlier, and with four of us packed in there I'll tell ya, it was tight.

Mr. G's electronic call attracted a few different animals. We spotted a bobcat on my side of the blind only a few minutes into the hunt, but I was unable to get the rifle in hand before it had retreated into the brush. After that we had a brief glimpse of what appeared to be a fox, then later we saw another one which I could have taken a shot at had the spotlights been brighter. I had a steady stance, rifle at the ready, but the batteries in our spotlights were failing and the scope couldn't give me a clear enough image to take a shot confidently.

We eventually packed up around 12:20 a.m. and headed slowly back to the lodge to get some sleep. Along the way, we used a car-powered spotlight to search for varmints. Matt had the rifle as we scanned the brush, but nothing turned up so we decided to go get some sleep. Some are waking up for the 5:00 a.m. hunt tomorrow morning (I guess "tomorrow" is now "today").

Tyler shot a pig and is pretty sure he killed it, but he wasn't able to find it in the dark so that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Can't resist - here's an HDR image of one awesome Texas truck!


To be continued....


Jason D. said...

Keep it coming...look's like a ton of fun!

Jessica Cynthia Koch said...

Wow! That looks like a blast! I like the blind, I am not sure I have seen one like that before. Hunting is sure is a pleasure. :)