Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the Nov. 8, 2013 issue of Lone Star Outdoor News.
The smile on the young man’s face in the fading light spoke volumes.
Moments before, the group in the blind had been watching a mature 8-point buck feed down the sendero in front of them, waiting for him to turn broadside.
After an agonizing 30 minutes in which the buck had disappeared twice back into the brush before reemerging, he finally turned broadside at 60 yards.
Fourteen-year-old Nicholas O’Connor didn’t let the moment slip away.
One shot from his .243 dropped the buck in his tracks, capping a successful weekend for the Lone Star Outdoor News Foundation’s first-ever youth hunt on a lease in Dimmit County.
The Lone Star Outdoor News Foundation’s mission is to “create hunting opportunities, benefit youth education and support wildlife research and outdoor journalism.”
The youth weekend helped further that mission, with five families from The Woodlands heading west for a two-day hunt.
Unfortunately for the hunters — Nick Regier, Sam Powers, Darby Dwyer, Mikaela Sweet and O’Connor — the weather was hot and the mature bucks were not moving.
But that didn’t stop each from heading to the blinds morning and afternoon in the hopes one would make a mistake. Several good bucks were seen, but for different reasons the young hunters could not connect.
O’Connor was the lucky one when the big 8-point fed out in front of the blind Saturday afternoon and offered a shot.
“For me, the best part of the weekend was, obviously, shooting an awesome buck,” he said. “In addition to that, I also really enjoyed just the whole outdoors experience, like sitting in the blind and hanging out at the ranch.”
He said he learned patience will sitting in the blind.
“When I saw the buck, I was very excited, because this was only my second time to go hunting, and I’d never had the chance to shoot at a buck that big,” he said. “At the beginning, I was very eager and felt like I needed to get a shot off as quickly as I could, so he didn’t get away. But then I realized I needed to wait for a good shot and stay calm, if I wanted to get the deer.”
O’Connor’s dad, Jim, also enjoyed the experience.
“As a dad, it was awesome to hang out and bond with my son,” he said. “The whole experience was fantastic — from the ranch to guides. The fact that Nicholas got a buck was a very nice bonus!”
Following O’Connor’s hunt on Saturday, Nick Regier headed back to the same blind to see if another buck would come out.
No mature deer were seen Sunday morning, but a spike did come into the sendero for a quick bite. Unfortunately, he caught movement in the blind and departed into the thick brush.
It was down to the final 30 minutes of the hunt when an unexpected trophy appeared — a big javelina boar stepped out under the feeder.
Regier had never shot a game animal before, so he quickly focused in on the javelina, took a few deep breaths and dropped the boar in his tracks.
A great first hunt!
High-fives, pictures and a skinning lesson followed, with all of the young hunters getting a tutorial from Mike Shipley, a guide at the Shiner Ranch, on the proper way to field dress and skin a deer and javelina.
The kids had a great time, regardless of the tough hunting.
According to LSON Executive Editor Craig Nyhus, it was a perfect first step for the new foundation.
“Some new hunters got an opportunity,” Nyhus said. “And one took his first shot at an animal. I think we have some new lifeling hunters — the youngsters are the future of hunting and conservation.”
The foundation is grateful for its supporters and the chance to pursue its mission, especially in introducing more young people to its passion.
“The foundation received a gracious donation of a 2,000-acre hunting lease in Dimmit County,” he said. “It gave the Lone Star Outdoor News Foundation the opportunity to do what we have been wanting to do for some time — create hunting opportunities for young people who have a passion for the sport, but lack the opportunity.”
The donation was received from longtime Dimmit County rancher Pete Wilson. Look for the story on Pete and his donation in a future issue of Lone Star Outdoor News.
The Lone Star Outdoor News Foundation is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization.
For more information, contact Nyhus at (214) 361-2276.