Written by Craig Nyhus, Lone Star Outdoor News
Isaac Garcia and his brother, Elijah, were on their first buck hunt with the Lone Star Outdoor News Foundation.
Hunting in South Texas, the first two days of hunting were slow for Ike, with plenty of young bucks to look at while the mature bucks either didn’t appear or appeared for an instant and disappeared. Eli did shoot a nice 8-point buck.
The last day for Ike, though, was ruined.
After the offer of the hunt continuing into Monday and his father, Albert Garcia, Jr. of Italy, agreeing to allow the boys to miss a day of school, one more morning hunt was planned.
At the blind, several does were hounded by young bucks, as the South Texas rut was about to begin. While waiting for an older buck, the group watched a doe and young buck sprint away, the doe’s tail straight up.
“Something is wrong,” guide Craig Nyhus told them. “That isn’t rutting behavior, something spooked them.”
A few seconds later, the reason became apparent.
“There are some people walking toward the feeder,” Albert Garcia said.
Two men walked past the feeder and along the path toward the blind.
After the initial shock, a few photos were snapped of one of the men jogging away, but the hunt was ruined.
“We have had signs of traffic like damage to the fence, cut fences and we have found backpacks, but we have never had a hunt affected. During the surge this summer, some turned themselves in.” Nyhus told them.
The next weekend, LSONF intern Cole Farris, a wildlife management student at Southwest Texas Junior College, headed out after dark to fill a feeder that was low on corn.
“I opened up the gate to go to the feeder, and went I went to close it there was a light on in the blind,” he said. “I thought it might have been a reflection.”
At the feeder, he heard a noise.
“One guy came out of the blind and ran away,” Farris said, and went back to his chores. “As I was up the ladder and filling the feeder, four more came out of the blind and shined a spotlight on me — It freaked me out. Then they walked off.”
The photograph of the trespassers was posted on the Lone Star Outdoor News Facebook page, and the stream of comments followed.
“It was everything from telling us we should have pointed the gun or shot near them to political discussions about how since Americans hire the illegal immigrants, so they come. Some people even accused the image of being Photoshopped,” Nyhus said. “We certainly aren’t going to point a rifle at a human being unless they first point one at us.”
All political views on immigration aside, Nyhus said it is disturbing to have a hunt or other chores on the ranch interrupted.
“Hopefully there isn’t another surge of traffic,” he said. “Not really because of any risk of danger, but Isaac’s memories of his first buck hunt shouldn’t be marred by how the hunt was ruined.
“And we’re tired of having to check the entire fence every time we go, not to mention fixing it.”
The gift was more than a surprise.
On Christmas morning, Italy hunter Isaac Garcia opened his last present.
“It was a big box containing a large bag of sunflower seeds, some Big Red and a $25 Walmart gift card,” he said. “My mom said that, unlike the rest of my presents, this one had a theme.”
Isaac looked up, without a clue what the gift meant.
His father, Albert Garcia, Jr, responded with a stern face.
“Second chances,” he said.
Isaac thought about being selected to hunt with the Lone Star Outdoor News Foundation after receiving the top cadet award at last summer’s Bobwhite Brigades camp. Along with his brother, Elijah, who attended the Buckskin Brigades camp the summer before, both brothers had hunted before, but neither had a chance at a buck.
He thought about the unsuccessful early December hunt that ended without a chance at a white-tailed buck, with the last morning of the hunt ruined when two immigrants walked past the South Texas feeder, scattering the nearby deer. Not necessarily making things better, his older brother Elijah had brought down a buck during the same weekend hunt.
“It took me a few seconds,” Isaac said, “but I replayed the whole scene in my mind, and replied, ‘Carrizo Springs?’”
His father pointed at the box and said, “That’s your travel pack; we leave tonight with your Pops (grandfather Albert Sr).
“Go get packed.”
Isaac threw his camo clothes and necessities in his bag and put it in the truck. A few hours later, they were on the road for the 6-hour Christmas Day drive.
It turned out to be the Christmas gift of the 13-year-old’s lifetime, as the next evening, with his grandfather seated next to him in the deer blind, he made a perfect shot on a buck in the final minutes of daylight.