Many firsts — Young hunter tastes success, disappointment on first hunt

Written by Craig Nyhus, Lone Star Outdoor News

They came knowing little about hunting and ranch life. They left with a bit of an understanding of both.

Trey Gonzales of San Antonio had never hunted. His dad, Tony, hunted a little as a youngster, with little success.

Thanks to the Texas Deer Association, Trey received a college scholarship after writing an application essay describing his learning about leadership and listening to his parents. And thanks to TDA’s support of Lone Star Outdoor News Foundation, he was on his first-ever hunt.

Now a freshman at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, he plans to pursue those skills through a degree in psychology with an emphasis on business applications.

Trey and his dad arrived a little bit late at the ranch in Dimmit County to pursue a feral hog and/or a white-tailed deer with Lone Star Outdoor News Foundation.

“We’ll give you the house tour later,” I told them, “let’s go to the range.”

Trey had been practicing. His first shot at 100 yards was less than 1-inch from the center mark.

“Let’s go hunting,” I said.

Twenty minutes later, we were in the blind.

“We’ve had some good bucks here, but the pigs showed up recently — sometimes the deer don’t like the pigs,” I told them.

Not 10 minutes later, a sow showed up and headed straight for the corn placed at about 90 yards from the blind.

We went through the checklist, and Trey said he was ready.

A few seconds later, the pig was down.

“Nice shot,” I said. “You have been practicing.”

Questions and answers dominated the trip, some of them unexpected.

“You mean we don’t have to wear orange caps?”

“No, maybe the store will take them back.”

“Why are the cows following us?”

“They think we have food for them.”

“Will the piglets make it now that their mother is gone?”

“Probably, though we hope not.”

After spending time with us doing chores involving filling feeders and updating trail cameras around the ranch, the next evening hunt didn’t go quite so well. A nice 8-pointer was a regular at one spot on the ranch, and didn’t disappoint.

“You see the one on the left?” I asked Trey.

“Yes,” he said.

“Let’s slowly get your gun out the window and see if he gives us a shot.”

A few minutes passed while the buck was behind the feeder, then some brush.

“He’s calm, don’t worry, he’ll come out,” I said.

After a few minutes, he did and presented a broadside shot at the same distance the pig did the day before.

But the sight of horns can do things to young hunters that pigs can’t.

“Remember to breathe like we talked about, pick out the spot and slowly squeeze the trigger whenever you’re ready,” I said.

The rifle blast was followed by the sound of a whirr, a cloud of dirt, and an unharmed buck sprinting away.

“I felt like I was right on him,” Trey said about the shot.

Now he is a deer hunter.

Trey’s email after his return home told the rest of the story.

“If you ever need any help on the ranch, let me know,” he wrote.