Before Halloween, She Tricks & Treats Anglers, Hunters
By Mark S. McDonald
When our merry little band of deer hunters took out a lease in West Texas, we knew two things: (1.) we wouldn’t need a rain coat; (2.) we would need a map or GPS — it’s big country.
We were also fairly certain the moonscape located southeast of Sanderson in Terrell County had its share of deer, about 75 percent whitetail, the rest mule deer. Somehow the animals scrounge up a living among the stickerstack of sotol, cedar and greasewood.
Throw in a smattering of scaled quail (not yet extinct), mourning dove, javelinas, coyotes, bobcats and a cruiser mountain or two, and you have your usual cast of Trans-Pecos characters. What our august body of learned naturalists, venison chefs, campfire raconteurs and mix-ologists did not know to expect, however, recently appeared at one of the local water troughs.
Had lease playmate Trey Butler of TallTown, Texas not produced the evidence from a motion-activated trail camera, we would not have believed that such a lordly creature from the wooded Rockies would stoop to such lowly habitat. Talk about the wrong side of the tracks.
Shorty, the ranch foreman who ain’t, reminded us the landowner had released a few elk, along with a handful of blackbuck antelope native to Africa, just to see if they could eat blue sky and rocks. Turns out, they can. And do quite well thank you.
Alas, these imports are off-limits to our sharp sticks and spinning metal projectiles, so full details will not be forthcoming but check the photo. From the looks of those racks, the elk are bullish on West Texas.
Other surprises surfacing early this autumn include:
* Clearly, we are a culture are hell-bent on killing sharks, taxing the limits of our equipment and the stratosphere of our imagination to do it. The host of one of those booger-eater TV show – neither to be promoted here — recently encountered an 11-foot mako shark out of Huntington Beach, Calif., that weighed 809.5 pounds. We know the dimensions because the animal was brought to the dock and publicly butchered.
As the story goes, the shark was chummed up from the depths by teasing a fish over the boat gunwale. When the great predator rose to within near arm’s length, the humanoid shot him with a bow, his arrow linked to a steel cable. Fifteen minutes later, the crew had a lot of teeth and tail on its hands. Any guilt (doubtful) was assuaged when they donated 400 pounds of meat to L.A.-area homeless shelters.
While the shootist claims some vague record for achievement, the world has one less shark that was of more useful down yonder than it ever was in the belly of a shiftless scamp who can’t hold a job. Or on TV.
Again we see that something clanks in the brain pan of a semi-normal hunter of fisherman once he gets in front of a camera. If it happens often enough, he becomes an impossible bore. The longer the TV show runs, the worse the condition, the more nauseating the host becomes.
For decades this phenomena has puzzled the experts. After decades of intense clinical studies, I can here announce a medical break-through. My research has diagnosed the illness: Believing your own bull shit.
* Hide nor hair — In Louisiana, a hunter brought in a hairless deer with shriveled hide. World-class case of mange? Or stunt double from the Hollywood set of an “E.T.” remake?
* World’s gone nutty — Ripe pecans first started dropping about Oct. 10, a full month earlier than last year and quite early by most standards. Say sayeth arborist Zan Mathies of Midland. Perhaps he should know. He’s a Sul Ross University ag-type, who grew up on a Central Texas pecan farm. Could the local pecans be forecasting a particularly chilly winter?
* Gar wars — In the gee-whiz/so-what department, a 180-pound alligator gar was brought to the dock at Lake Falcon on the Texas-Mexico border by a bow fisherman. Anybody else wonder how old that creature might have been? (the fish, not the shooter)
* Youth shall be served — From the ancient to the nearly new: In Ohio, a girl recently took a whitetail buck, her second deer with a bow. She is 7. Seven.
Mark S. McDonald, editor of this website, is working on his next book, “They Gave Us Baseball: Now Look What We’ve Done,” to be released in 2015. Watch for his next TV episode, “Killing Sharks with a Pitch Fork.”