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December 27: Madison O'Dell

Well for the past couple of years Madison and I have been going on father/daughter bow hunts mostly in VA and NC, whenever we could squeeze in some time in the tree. Between school, cheerleading, and all-star cheer along with my busy schedule, we did not have many opportunities to share time in the woods. Well fast forward to this year and our schedules have been even more hectic, as we are in the process of moving from Lynchburg VA to Boerne TX. That is the bad news. The good news is that we were going to be in Texas during the hunting season. What is the saying…”I was not born in Texas but I got here as quick as I could”! I think a hunter must have coined that phrase as Texas is literally a hunters paradise! Well with that being said it leads us to Madison’s deer hunt.

I was extremely fortunate to meet my new “best friend” in South Texas, Nick Anderson who is the head guide at Pete Denney’s Brushy Hill Ranch. Brush Hill Ranch http://www.brushyhill.com/ is a 13,000 acre low fence free ranging ranch in South Texas that is a day lease bow hunting only mecca. There is an abundance of game on the ranch including whitetail deer, Rio Grande turkeys, wild hogs, exotic deer, and predators. I met Nick through a co-worker who had previously hunted the ranch with his son and taken a nice big Rio with his bow. We immediately hit it off and starting planning Madison’s bow hunt. We set the date for December 27th and the hunt was on.

So when December 27th finally rolled around I was not able to hunt the morning hunt because we had just finally closed on our new house that was supposed to be finished in late September, but that is another story in itself. Nick assured me that the evening hunt should be best and the wind and weather conditions were perfect for a ground blind that he had great confidence in based on his scouting. Well we met Nick around 12 noon in Sabinal Texas which is just a few miles from the ranch. Then we headed to the ranch to meet our hosts Pete and Ava Denney. After a quick meet and greet we headed out to the blind.

Well I decided since it was still early afternoon and we had a little time before the deer should start moving that we would practice how you play so to speak in that I had Madison take a few practice shots with her pink camo PSE Chaos bow while in the blind. We simply set up the Block Black target where we thought the deer would be standing and she fired a few of her carbon forced 100 PSE arrows. Madison was right on target so to speak just like she has been all fall leading up to this hunt.

So we settled into the ground blind and the waiting game was on. We had sat for hours back East without even seeing a single deer and I hoped that this hunt would be much different than those experiences and I hoped that she would see an abundance of deer. We were in a great spot as we were on the edge of a wheat field where several trails came out of the South Texas brush on either side of the blind. It did not take long and Madison said here comes a deer, 2,3,4,5, and 6… Soon we had more than a dozen does and fawns feeding in front of our little ground blind. A short time later some young bucks showed up on the scene. One three year old in particular has the potential to be a real giant in a couple of years. It was an incredible sight watching my daughters face as she struggled to keep count of how many deer were coming and going from the field.

Then the moment of truth happened. All of the deer jerked their heads up and looked in the same direction. I told Madison to stay alert as years of experience have taught me that when the deer react like that there is usually a big mature deer joining the dinner party. Sure enough moments later our target deer, a wide 5.5 year old 8 pointer with good mass and great G1’s came into view from the corner of our blind. After many minutes that seemed more like hours the big boy finally presented Madison with the broadside shot we had been waiting for. I gave her the green light to shoot and she made an absolute great shot! It had FINALLY all come together for Madison’s first buck with her bow! I was so proud of her and we were both super excited! As we were reviewing the footage of her shot she said, “dad stop shaking!” but I was more excited for her to harvest that deer than any animal I have ever harvested and I just could not stop shaking!

After a few minutes we exited the blind to see if we could find blood and we found much more than that! While I was still getting out of the blind Madison said “Dad he is laying right over there in the field”! I thought she was pulling my leg but sure enough the buck had not gone 60 yards and was laying in the wheat field. Let the celebration begin!!

I could not have scripted this hunt any better. We saw more deer in one evening than we had seen on all of our previous hunts combined ( God bless Texas! ) and Madison had harvested her first buck with her PSE bow! A huge thank you goes out to Nick, Pete, and Ava!! Nick told me that not all hunts go like this at Brushy Hill Ranch (that you can shoot a mature buck in one afternoon of hunting) and that it is a day lease so the deer are extremely wary but the ranch is loaded with deer and every year hunters are lucky enough to harvest some really great bucks in the 120”-160” range for a price that the average hunter can afford to pay and there are no trophy fees.

The really cool thing is that this is only part one of this story as Madison and I plan to go back and do some hog hunting. Also the entire Bow Madness Cast is coming down in April for spring turkey season to film an episode for TV for 2013. With the amount of turkeys I have seen on this ranch we are in for a treat!

Good Hunting and Happy New Year!
John