The weather wins

Pulling into the gates of Greystone Castle is always an exciting time for me.

The 7,000-acre ranch, world-class lodge and hunting facility near Mingus always gets the blood pumping, whether I am there for a Dallas Safari Club S.A.F.E.T.Y event, bird hunt or management deer hunt, like this occasion.

Greystone Castle has a reputation for producing huge bucks scoring well above 200 inches, but those would have to wait for another time. I was here, along with LSON Executive Editor Craig Nyhus, to shoot a mature, native whitetail scoring up to 140 inches.

That was the plan.

And it would have worked to perfection, but for Mother Nature getting in the way.

We met Bill Honza, Greystone’s general manager, Monday afternoon while checking in. The rooms at Greystone rival that of any five-star hotel. After a quick check to make sure my rifle was shooting straight, we headed for a blind in the east pasture.

The blinds on the ranch are roomy and comfortable, with great views overlooking food plots planted with oats and plenty of natural forage for the deer. Oak-topped plateaus cover the landscape and provide the deer plenty of places to hide.

Bill told us he had trail camera photos of several mature bucks using this food plot — two of them being upper 130s 10-pointers that were at the top of the list for the 3-day hunt.

The first evening we were greeted by overcast skies, windy conditions, humidity and temperatures in the upper 70s — not exactly optimal conditions, even though the rut was less than a month away.

aagrey2Deer movement was nonexistent until 20 minutes before legal shooting time ended. Several does made their way to the feeder, signaling the rest of the deer that it was time to snack on corn and oats.

Deer began pouring out of the brush, including two young bucks that held great promise for the future. But no mature deer showed up.

The next morning found us in a different blind several hundred yards from where we sat the first night. Again, warm, humid weather greeted us as the sun slowly rose and deer began to move.

We only saw one small buck and several fawns, which stayed in the food plot until 9 a.m. Bill’s constant joking and good nature made the time pass quickly, even though deer movement was minimal.

We headed back to the lodge for lunch. One thing is for sure at Greystone; you will not go hungry. Meals are prepared by a full-time chef and included beef fillets, roasted chicken, quail, duck, pheasant and a variety of fresh vegetables and desserts during our stay.

After a filling lunch, Craig and I headed to the top of the castle to overlook the property to the south. It was an impressive view, made even more so by a 180-inch class buck that decided to step into the shotgun shooting range near the lodge to make a scrape.

A quick dash to the room to grab my camera resulted in several good shots of this huge buck.

After a short nap, it was back to the blind for the evening hunt.

Wearing shorts in the blind is rarely a good thing on a late-October deer hunt, but we tried to make the best of it.

Again, several young bucks, does and fawns were the only deer that arrived before dark. It was obvious the bigger deer just weren’t moving much during the day.

Our final morning began with some excitement. In the predawn light, we could make out what looked like the best buck we had seen all week. Dark, heavy antlers had us hoping the deer would be old enough to shoot. However, as it got lighter, it quickly became obvious the buck was a 3-year-old with great potential.

A few more small bucks and several does fed around us until about 8:30, when they decided it was time to head for bed.

aagrey1Our allotted time was up on this trip, but I came away with a new appreciation for Greystone. This wasn’t a guaranteed hunt. Even on great properties, success should not be a foregone conclusion. This was truly hunting, and even though I didn’t shoot a buck, it was still great to be in the woods with good friends.

Bill was as gracious as ever, and told us to come back when our schedule allowed later in the season to see if we couldn’t connect then.

I think we might take him up on that offer.