Having spent our hunting dollars in Africa again this year, we didn't take a hunting lease here at home.  Marla & I hunted twice at Bannister WMA in east Texas, with only limited deer sightings (very poor acorn crop had deer hard to pattern).  At the very last minute (last weekend of the season, and the opportunity didn't come open until that Friday), we got a chance to take Cheyenne back out to NW Val Verde to see if we could get her another buck.  Sunday morning of Jan 2 (last day of season), this broken up 10 point stepped out.  She missed with the first shot but made good on the second.  The buck is 18" wide outside and right at 17" wide inside spread.


Again saving for Africa, we mostly hunted public land in East Texas.  We focused on Bannister WMA again, and saw deer both times we went, including at least one legal buck, but nothing we wanted to pull the trigger on.  After Christmas, a friend of Dad's invited us to hunt a property that he owns in NW Val Verde County.  The place had been a bit overhunted, but there were numerous young bucks.  We figured that this would be a great opportunity for Cheyenne to take her first buck, and she dropped the hammer on this nice 3 year old 8 point buck.  Just as she fired, he put his antlers in the line of fire, and her shot broke the right main beam.  I ended up putting a finisher in to anchor him and forestall a tracking job.


As we were saving again for Africa this year, we decided not to look for a lease and hunted Public Land in East Texas.  Instead of Hunting Bannister WMA as we had in the past, several people recommended that we hunt the Davy Crockett National Forest.  We took that advice and were rewarded with numerous deer sightings every time we went.  I shot and lost a nice 8 pt buck the first morning I hunted in early November, and Marla took this 8 pt buck the weekend after Thanksgiving - it was just too far away for Cheyenne to try a shot.


This year, we took a 17,000 acre lease in Reagan and Crockett Counties.  This property has both Whitetails and Mule Deer (Mule deer season starts after Thanksgiving).  We get to take two trophy bucks (either 2 whitetails or 1 whitetail and 1 mule deer) and cull bucks as tags permit.  This monster 6 point was a 4 1/2 year old fully mature buck.  He was 17 3/4" wide and has 11" G2 tines (although it doesn't look like they are that long in this photo, they curve dramatically forward).

Marla also took a cull buck, this one a 3 1/2 year old buck with a 6 pt frame on the right, and a bizarrely twisted antler on the left bearing 4 points.



Since we were saving for Africa this year, we decided not to take a deer lease and instead hunted Bannister WMA east of Lufkin.  Marla only saw two deer all season - a spike and this 9 pt, which she shot the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I saw several deer the 2nd weekend of the season, including what I think was the deer Marla shot . . . Friday before Xmas I blew an easy shot (no cartridge in the chamber) at a 140 class 10 pt.  I ended up shooting the doe below after Xmas (Marla & I both drew doe tags).


In 2006, we had to make a last minute scramble to find a place to hunt, as we were asked to not hunt our friend's property at Goldmine Canyon so that they would be able to use it without fear of interfering with our hunting.  We ended up hunting a "shot out" lease with Pat Roebuck in eastern Duval Co.  The year before, Pat had seen several quality bucks (even though deer numbers were low), but this year, we saw only does.  I also did a little meat hunting on my property in Camp Wood, and we took a trip to Bannister WMA after Xmas, where Marla saw two nice bucks but was unable to get shots at them.  The only deer harvested this year were does.


We again hunted Goldmine Canyon Ranch in Val Verde County.  Marla opened the season with this nice young 8 point, with a 6" drop tine, while I passed on several 120-125 class bucks this year in the hopes of seeing a buck in excess of 130.  Later in the season, I decided to shoot a big old 8 point with short brow tines that I had seen several times, but Dad beat me to him.  After Xmas, we travelled to Bannister WMA east of Lufkin, and Marla shot a really nice 123" 8 point with bladed tines and a couple of sticker points.  I watched the whole thing transpire through my scope - I would have shot the deer had it taken one more step!



We hunted Goldmine Canyon Ranch in eastern Val Verde County this year, a property owned by friends of ours.  We had hunted this area a couple of times previously, but never for the entire season.  We really didn't know what kind of deer to expect - the property to the north  (deer reservoir) had recently been put under a high fence and the properties to the south were small and overhunted.  However, in October, floods washed holes in the fence that were never repaired, and we continued to have good numbers of deer.  Marla started things off with a doe, then an ancient toothless buck.  The first weekend of December, Marla shot a 138" 8 point with stickers and a shot an older 10 point on the same afternoon.  I ended the season with a 20" wide 129" 8 pt after Xmas.



Marla, Dad, & I hunted a lease southwest of Barnhart this year.  The property had apparently been overhunted by "guided hunters" the previous year.  I passed then missed a shot at a mid-120s class 10 point after Thanksgiving, and Marla shot her first 8 point buck around that time.  The place had potential but it really needed several years of controlled hunting to realize its potential.



We again hunted a lease north of Coleman this year.  Although I took the best buck of my life, this season was fairly stressful - there were conflicts with some of the other hunters on the lease, with the lease "manager" making and changing rules during the season - he really didn't know much about deer hunting and wanted everyone hunting the same stands overlooking the same feeders all season long.  I spotted my buck while moving from one rattling spot to another, and shot him after a 50 yard belly crawl - my buck grossed 144" and netted 133" as a 10 point typical (with a 2" sticker off one base).  Dad also shot a nice old buck, a 123" 8 point.



This year, we took a lease north of Coleman.  It had been a dry year, and antler growth could have been better, but we all saw nice bucks.  I shot an 18" wide 9 point, and my cousin Robert shot a huge 7 point that was one of the dominant bucks on the place.  I saw quite a few other nice bucks, including a big 9 point after I had shot my buck that was a fairly young deer (I shot him in 2001 as a 10 point).

Both of these years, I hunted at Bannister WMA east of Lufkin.  Neither season produced any quality buck sightings for me, although Marla saw a mature buck near the road one morning after she had unloaded her rifle.


We hunted both Bannister WMA and the Angelina N.F. near Upland Island Wilderness this year.  I shot a very nice buck at Bannister the 2nd weekend of the season and shot a tree at Upland Island the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Unfortunately, we forgot to bring a camera and had to go buy a cheap disposable to take photos of the buck.



After earning our Black Belts in Taekwondo, Marla & decided to go squirrel hunting.  Dad suggested we go to Bannister WMA east of Lufkin - he had seen good numbers of squirrels there in October.  I borrowed his .44 magnum Ruger Blackhawk in case I saw a deer while squirrel hunting.  Surprisingly enough, on Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, a really nice 18" wide 8 point walked in front of me offering an easy shot - which I missed.  However, he didn't know where the shot came from, and I was able to make good on the second shot.