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Guest Blog - Gifford Watkins' Hunting Adventure

The below entry is a guest blog from a friend of mine from Nova Scotia, Mr. Gifford Watkins

When I was a seminary student at Southwestern Baptist Theological School (Fort Worth) I took at job as an intern at Park Cities Baptist Church.  After working there a few weeks I got to know the mailman, who said due to his recent divorce he had extra room in his house.  I thought since most of my life was in North Dallas it would be a good idea so I moved in.  My fiance at the time thought it would be ideal for us to spend Thanksgiving at their ranch in South Texas.  As I packed a weekend bag, I heard the door slam and the footfalls of my new housemate.  I really didn't know that much about him at the time, but after I mentioned heading to a ranch for the weekend, he asked if I was going hunting.  I said I was not planning to, I didn't have a gun, or bullets, or a license to hunt in Texas, to which he said, "Puh, you don't need a license, do you want to borrow a gun?"  I asked what sort of gun and that was when the fun began.  His name was Troy.  Troy led me to a wall in the living room where he pushed and out came a door; the door to his cache. A huge steel cabinet with decals I cannot describe (Death from Above might ring a bell with some) was unlocked and inside, was well, the inside.  I chose a Smith and Wesson .41 caliber hand cannon with a scope and 6 bullets; three hollow points and three full metal jackets. I loaded these into a stainless steel carrying case and headed out the door.

The ranch was 100+ acres of Texas scrub; mule deer and turkeys ran rampant as I surveyed the surrounds looking for the right place to hunker down the next day.  Train tracks ran through about 300 yards away from the ranch house and I thought it a good vantage point being about 15 feet above the fenced fields to the south, so I returned to the ranch, sat with the family and drank with the grownups til twilight.  It was time.  I grabbed my silver kit and headed toward the tracks, taking a round about route so I could approach downwind North.  I loaded the cylinder and sat down to wait.  Within a half hour I heard the pift, pift, pift of footsteps approaching down below west of the open fields.  The gradient slope down from the tracks was heavily grassed breaking only at the nearest fence line, about 150 yards away.  A small rack of horns emerged and out stepped a mule deer about 140 pounds or so.  I braced off, still sitting, one knee up to rest my right elbow and sighted in.  Not wanting to spoil the kill I took aim at the front of the right shoulder and drew in a breath, held it, waited for the lilt and gently squeezed. The recoil was enough to jumpstart my heart and the sight of the buck dropping enough to move my legs into action. Running with the .41, I scrambled down the hill, through the tall grass, grabbed a post with one hand and hopped the fence (feeling a little bit like Mel Gibson in one of his crazy cop movies), eager to investigate the damage.  In a few seconds I was next to the deer kneeling down.  I put my index finger into the hole as far as I could and grinned wide looking around to see if anyone had seen this magnificent feat.  I didn't have a holster so I transferred the .41 to my left hand and grabbed the horns.  With about 250 yards to drag, I started lugging the carcass to the ranch.  Still trembling, excited, and glad to have something to show the freezer at home, I dug deep and pulled and pulled until I was about 100 yards out still hugging the fence line.
Suddenly, and I mean in a split second, I wasn't dragging the buck... it was dragging me; I held on for a few seconds before realizing what was happening and let go. Now I was on the ground and the deer was above me, disoriented and panicked. I tried crabbing backwards but the buck was running round in circles and the .41 was near useless as I tried to sight it in at 5 yards BAM miss, 10 yards BAM miss, back to 5 yards BAM another miss; I was now a Nova Scotian matador with nothing to hide behind.  Finally it straightened out ran full tilt into the barbed wire fence, toppling upside down and if it could have been any more panicked, it was, as it bolted up and over the train tracks where I had just been lying 5 minutes ago.  I stood in my place alone, not grinning, so glad there was no one around to witness this horrible twist of fate.  I hung my head, walked back to the tracks looking for blood, but found nothing except the case I had left behind; the walk back to the ranch was very long and as I approached folks came out to see what I had accomplished on my outing.  My fiance said, "So how did my hunter man make out this morning, we heard shots fired."  I held up one bloody finger and said, "I got one, I was dragging it home when it got up, scared me and ran away."  The seasoned hunters were soon laughing so hard that my ears burned, my face reddened and my shoulders slumped even more.  They didn't have a good dog, so tracking was out of the question.  As the laughter died down, I said, "Well, I shot the thing, other than that what was I supposed to do?" The response: "gut it." But I didn't have a knife.
That Christmas as we opened gifts, I was surprised to see a box from the soon to be in-laws. Pulling off the wrapping paper revealed a tidy brown box with gold embossed letters: KASUNA. Inside was a buck knife.
Thinking back on that day I can only offer one explanation.  The first bullet out of the chamber must have been a full metal jacket, a bullet that passed right through the neck of a 120 pound 6 point buck.  It was a great shot indeed, but unfortunately the wrong ammunition.  I did go out later that day (in the evening) and bag a 100 pound doe; this time I aimed behind the right shoulder from high atop a tree.  It seemed completely uneventful after the morning's incident though.  I returned home to Dallas and every time I opened the freezer, thought about the buck that got away.
The moral of the story is... don't borrow a gun from a disgruntled, divorced, African-American Viet Nam vet turned disgruntled postal worker. Just my humble opinion. Happy hunting South Carolina :)

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