John's Journal...

Texas’ Ford Ranch – A Dream Hunt for Everyone

Day 2: Texas’ Ford Ranch – a Great Place for Beginner and Expert Deer Hunters

Click for Larger View“Can I shoot him? Can I shoot him now?” my niece Shannon pleaded when we hunted at the Ford Ranch near Melvin, Texas, the first weekend in December. We’d been waiting for what seemed to be two lifetimes for the 40 deer between us and the buck we’d picked-out for Shannon to take to move out from in front of her big 8 point. “Not yet. There’s still one more doe in front of him,” I whispered. Finally, the doe moved away, and Shannon had the opportunity to take the shot. We’d seen the buck coming across the field about a quarter of a mile away. Although there were 8 other bucks and 32 does less than 20-yards from our stand, this buck’s high rack and wide beams let me know this was the buck for Shannon and the CVA Optima .50 caliber blackpowder rifle she was shooting. None of the other bucks were the size of the one that was on his way to us. Sitting beside Shannon in the blind with my camera and a 400-millimeter Nikon lens, I photographed the buck until he was within 40 yards of our blind site.

Click for Larger ViewShannon already had her rifle up and ready to shoot when I remembered I hadn’t put a percussion cap on the breech plug. “If Shannon shoots, all she’s going to do is spook the deer,” I thought to myself. Even though I was afraid that I’d blow the hunt by taking the blackpowder rifle from Shannon and putting the percussion cap on the break-action rifle, I knew if I didn’t make that move she’d have no chance at all of shooting the first deer she’d ever taken in her life. Keeping my eyes on the deer as I broke the gun open, I saw that the deer were only slightly startled. However, the mature buck I wanted Shannon to take began to drift away from our stand site and walked toward the feeder 80-yards away. Once I had the percussion cap on the breech plug, I closed the barrel carefully. We watched and waited as Shannon’s buck fed under the feeder. Shannon might have been able to make the 80-yard shot. But since this was her first hunt, I wanted to make sure she had as close a shot as possible to ensure her success.

Click for Larger View“I think I can make the shot, Uncle Johnny,” Shannon said. But I whispered, “I believe the buck will come back the same way he went to the feeder. And if he does, you’ll have a really good shot at him at 30 yards. If he doesn’t, we’ve still got 2-more days to hunt, and we’ll find you another buck.” But as the long shadows of the evening began to stretch across the dusty Texas soil, through my binoculars, I saw the buck turn and begin heading back to our stand site. “Okay Shannon, get ready. He’s coming. However, we’ve got an awful lot of deer in front of us, so we may have to wait for that buck to give us a clean shot with no other deer around.” Finally, Shannon’s buck did present a clear shot that was a dream shot. He stood broadside at 30 yards when I finally whispered, “You can shoot now.” Aiming with the accuracy of a veteran, Shannon squeezed the trigger and watched orange fire and white smoke erupt at the end of her barrel. The buck never knew what hit him. He dropped in the same tracks where he once stood, and Shannon had taken the buck she’d waited to take for more than 30 years.

Click for Larger ViewWhen Shannon and I arrived at the buck she had just taken, we hugged and high-fived as we tied a knot of family love that only hunters can understand. There are many values that can be found in the sport of hunting. You can learn woodsmanship, you can learn about animals, you can find that inner solace that comes from being alone in the wilderness. But for me and many like me, hunting is about family. Hunting together provides you with quality family time without any MP3 players, televisions, radios, telephones or hectic work schedules. The richest part of hunting for me is family and having family ties to hunting. It’s my fault that Shannon never previously had been hunting or taken a deer, but thanks to our mutual friend, Forrest Armke, the manager at the Ford Ranch in Melvin, Texas, I had the opportunity to hunt with my niece. Armke invited Shannon and me to hunt the 30,000-acre Ford Ranch. As we approach the holiday season, consider the possibility of donning your camouflage. Make plans with a family member you’ve never taken hunting before, and enjoy the holiday season and the richness of hunting provided by taking that family member out for a day in the great outdoors.

For more information about the Ford Ranch, call (325) 286-4572, email, or go to

Tomorrow: Quaker Boy Calls’ Chris Kirby Take His Dream Buck at Texas’ Ford Ranch

Check back each day this week for more about "Texas’ Ford Ranch – A Dream Hunt for Everyone "

Day 1: John E. Phillips Made His Weirdest Bow Shot Ever at a Ford Ranch Texas Buck
Day 2: Texas’ Ford Ranch – a Great Place for Beginner and Expert Deer Hunters
Day 3: Quaker Boy Calls’ Chris Kirby Takes His Dream Buck at Texas’ Ford Ranch
Day 4: Texas’ Ford Ranch Offers Many Trophy Deer for the Taking with Quaker Boy Calls’ Michelle Kirby
Day 5: The State of Texas' New Hunting Targets – the Axis Deer Invasion at the Ford Ranch


Entry 591, Day 2