Whit's Inn Tinkerings

The White Buffalo & The Wildcat

On Sunday afternoon, May 24, 2015 I got to scratch something off of my life's bucket-list that has been there for a while and I completed the slow process of building my first muzzleloader rifle.  I named the gun the "White Buffalo" due to the significance of the infamous white buffalo that was shot and killed outside of Snyder here in Surry County in the Deep Creek drainage by Mr. J. Wright Mooar, the buffalo hunter, on October 7, 1876.  To many Native Americans (and non-Native Americans) the white buffalo has been a symbol of honor, sacredness, hope, blessings, peace, and other spiritual significances.  It is legend that President Theodore Roosevelt offered Mr. Mooar $5000.00 for the white buffalo hide but that Mr. Mooar did not sell it to him!  I used this gun-building opportunity to teach myself and oftentimes my children the many processes of it all and am very grateful for the knowledge gained!  There were several failures along the way, but I carried on despite those setbacks.  One of those setbacks was that I had purchased a "Sacred White Buffalo" nickle that embossed the buffalo in silver surrounded by gold really showcasing a white buffalo theme.  I paid quite a bit of money for the nickel and was not aware that it would arrive encased in epoxy.  Anyway, I tried to remove the epoxy coating and in the process destroyed the silver and gold embossment. I had intended on embedding that beautiful nickel into the thumb-print spot above the wrist of the gun stock.  Oh well!

Many of you know that I've got it bad for muzzleoaders and muzzleloading and that I married into that love.  As that love has grown I've joined the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association, the Contemporary Longrifle Association, and the Texas Muzzle Loading Rifle Association along with subscribing to Muzzleloading Magazine!  Shelly's paternal grandfather - Victor E. Englert is my hero in many, many ways!  But, I am especially fond and proud of his incredible art and skill displayed in the beautiful muzzleloaders he built.  You can see and learn more about that here!  My other Texas muzzleloading gun builder hero was grandpa Englert's teacher and friend H. E. Resley. I don't think Texas has produced a greater builder than Resley!  The two men have been a great inspiration to me and I don't think I can ever produce the quality of guns that they did but I am sure going to have fun trying!  Maybe grandpa has a smile on his face now that I have completed the "White Buffalo!"

I obtained this muzzleloader kit as a Christmas gift to myself from Cabelas in December.  The kit was on sale and I had acquired some points on my account with them.  The kit is produced by Traditions TM Performance Firearms and it is their Kentucky model.  It is a .50 Caliber, 33-1/2" octagon barrel, rifled in a 1:66" twist.  It is the only model that is full-stocked in select hardwood and came with a percussion lock.  I began working on it in late December of 2014.  I was very blessed to have my father-in-law, Jerry Englert (son of Victor Englert), loan me his father's hand woodworking tools.  I consider it an honor to have been able to use those tools!

My messy workshop!  I come by it honestly!

Drilling the forestock tenon holes. This pins the stock to the barrel and requires a very precise hole!  This was the only power tool I used to build the gun, because I strived to stay in the old tradition of gun building.

My Moore Maker knife, which was a gift from my friend Sam, was very useful in scraping the forestock to size.

A view of some of the wood-carving hand-tools used.
Many of these were grandpa's that he used to build guns with.

Dry-fitting the parts.

So much filing, scraping, and sanding!

What you are not able to see in this picture is that I had to build an extra spacer-plate to add to the brass one that came with the kit.  I made mine out of German Silver to get a two-tone effect and completely fill the gap between the butt-stock and the forestock.  Of everything I did with building this gun I am most proud of conceiving the idea and building that extra spacer-plate!

Because I was raised in Montana, and to go along with the theme of the gun I cut the buffalo skull out of two Montana State quarters and then embedded them into the upper tenon holes of the forestock to cover the tenon pin holes.
The outline I drew of the buffalo skull on the upper forestock tenon holes. I also was given two 1937 Buffalo Nickles by C.W. Nix (Shelly's maternal grandfather) which I also embedded into the forestock on each side of the lower tenon holes.  I am very grateful for C.W. Nix for his gift as it added much to the "White Buffalo" theme of the gun. 

The staining of the stock with help from my precious helpers.  Abigail loves to stain or paint things.    

Andrew my "southpaw" getting the stain in the hard to reach places!

I used Muzzleloader Builder's Supply's own brand of solvent-based stain called Old Towne stain in a TruDark Walnut. 

Browning the barrel with Birchwood Casey's Plum Brown barrel finish.
The barrel received 5 heat-treatment coats. 

The stamped barrel, which reads: #1 "WHITE BUFFALO" BY WHITLEY R. B. 2015
I wanted to stamp my last name but realized I didn't have enough room! Oh well.

Completed gun - left side.  The stock was finished with Boiled Linseed Oil.

Completed gun - lock side.

The "White Buffalo" now dons a spot of honor in our humble home just above the resting place of Shelly's very highly honored and most beautiful gun that was hand-made by her loving grandfather.

& The Wildcat

Hello everyone!  I'd like you to meet the Wildcat!  Yes, it's a knife!  And a very, very good one at that!  In fact, of all the knives I own it has leaped to the top of my list!  Let me tell you the tale of it.  In January Isaac, Abigail, Andrew and I went out to O'Pa's (that's Shelly's daddy) place to experience what we like to call "camp coffee" on his newly built camp-fire pit.  It was pretty chilly that beautiful morning at 33*F.  We all enjoyed hot coffee and some breakfast sausages over the campfire.  After we ate and drank we began poking around the area that O'Pa had recently mowed down around the camp-fire pit.  I kicked at a piece of metal on the ground and unearthed an old knife blade.  I picked up the rusty blade and looked at it.  I asked Jerry if I could have it.  He said, "Sure!"  I took it to work one night on night-shift along with my small box of deer and elk antler pieces that I had received from my brother Richard years ago.  My brother Richard is an incredibly amazing professional taxidermist.  Anyway, after a couple of hours I had managed to clean the blade up and then select and make a handle from a Montana elk horn.  It was a lot of fun restoring this old knife and turned out much, much better than I ever anticipated.  The knife is a WILDCAT with it's blade being made in Solinger, Germany.  The steel is very hard carbon-steel and I spent several hours sharpening it.  But, when I did finish sharpening the blade it would easily shave the hair off my arm!  I bought a cheap, unstained leather sheath for it on ebay for less than $10.00! It fit the blade well and I stained it a russet color.  The sheath turned out better than I expected as well.  So, for very little expense I have a very high-quality, useful, and rustic-looking knife that will serve whom-ever the owner is a long, long time!

Camp coffee with the knife blade sticking in the log above the coffee pot.

The condition of the knife blade before I began working on it.

It is hard to see but the emblem of a wildcat is above the tang along with the name: WILDCAT

The restored knife after I polished the blade and put a Montana elk-antler handle on it!

Sharpening it with my LANSKY Diamond Sharpener.  This took over 3 hours!

This knife is very, very sharp!  Sharp enough to shave the hair off my arm.  Such good carbon steel.

Dying the knife sheath.

The completed project set.  

The Wildcat knife is now my go-to knife because it is of such good carbon steel and holds it's edge so well.  I used it a lot while working on the White Buffalo gun-stock.  A little fun note: The mascot for the university where Shelly and I met is the Wildcats!     

The Rooster

Say Hello to "Rooster!"... uh-hem... Rooster, the guitar, that is!

Your pard', Whit here!  I have been pickin' and a grinnin' a guitar since I was 14 years old.  I grew up listening and watching my father do the same.  He was a part of a band called "The Troubadours" in Lubbock, TX back in the 60's that cut a record where he played guitar and sang.  It's really a very good record.  But of all the wonderful songs I've heard my father play and sing over the years and those that I've played and sang with him, there is one song that always brings smiles to the faces of those who hear it.  It's called, "The Rooster Song."  It is a wonderful song to sing with children because they get so involved with the song.  To those of you who know me and my family, you most likely have heard and witnessed us sing this silly song, because we all love it!

Because I enjoy pickin' and a grinnin' on a guitar, I have had the wonderful opportunities to play throughout the years with some very near and dear friends and family members.  It is always a joy to play with others.  I also have obtained some guitars throughout the years.  Currently, I have six!  I guess one for each child to inherit someday!  Ha Ha!  But, this is the story of my old guitar whom I have  named "Rooster."  Many guitars have names.  Probably the most famous guitar is well-known by the name, "Trigger." It was made famous by none other than Willie Nelson himself.  The value of "Trigger" when Willie Nelson passes away will undoubtedly be in the millions of dollars.  Sort of ironic for an old worn-out Classical Martin N20 that currently has 2 holes in him.  But oh what sound he makes under the master's hands!  

So, here is the story of my guitar, "Rooster."  In 1998 while attending ACU, my future mother-in-law, trash-to-treasure queen, a.k.a Linda Englert, told me she got this old guitar from someone who was about to throw it away.  She informed me that her son Justin was interested in learning to play an electric guitar but was wondering if I could fix this old broken one and let him try it.  That way they could be sure he wanted to play before they shelled out a bunch of money on an electric only to find out he didn't like it.  Being a bit of a shade-tree luthier/guitar repairman I agreed to look at the guitar.  She gave it to me and I knew right away that the dumpster was probably the best place for it because it had endured some serious blunt-force trauma.  But, I am a softy to things that have been abused and knew that with some TLC I could make it better.  So, with just a few tools and a kitchen table for a work-shop I began repairing this classical guitar.  The back, the sides, and the top of the guitar all around where the neck joins the body were all separated.  So, using some epoxy, some clamps, and some screws I put it all back together to the best of my ability.  It wasn't pretty but it was structurally sound.  Another thing that I did, which I still think is ingenious, was to remove the bridge & saddle and invert it 180 degrees where the bridge had been rendered useless but the string height on the finger board was manageable.  I moved the bridge and saddle back a little over an inch and re-drilled it into a rib because originally it was just fastened to the top sound-board which is actually pretty thin. Because of where it originally was fastened the whole bridge/saddle was peeling up and the top was failing due to the tremendous tension generated on it when the strings are tightened and tuned.  This matter was now solved.
Down the back of the neck showing the old original repairs I made in 1998

So, after all of the epoxy dried I restrung it with new classical strings and played it a while myself to ensure that it was good to play.  I was surprised at how well it played and even more amazed at how beautiful it sounded.  In many ways it reminded me of the very first guitar I used to learn how to play, which was also a beat-up, old classical style.  This repaired guitar wasn't the prettiest to look at but if the lights went out I was fairly confident that one would be hard-pressed to differentiate it with a high-dollar one.  I gave it back to Linda and Justin did learn to play on it.  While he had it he and his buddies gave it a black mark.... I'll let you figure out on your own how that happened.  He then got a nice electric guitar and somehow I got the old guitar back.  I played it many times for over ten years, just how I gave it to him.  But in the back of my mind I always wanted to completely take it down and redo it.  I mainly wanted to do this because I didn't like the paint job that was ever so slowly chipping on it.
How it looked before - Top

Original bottom-side view

Original back view

Back of the head

The guitar's top showing the old worn rosette where I hold my right ring finger while I finger-pick

Another view of the guitar's top showing the inverted Bridge/Saddle and the black mark

It stayed in this shape for over 10 years until the luthier in me was awakened by the following event:

My folks came down to visit this year in the latter part of June and the first part of July and my father's sister, my dear Aunt Wanda, and her husband Russ came over to visit.  Upon arrival she gave me a wonderful gift that I had only hoped and dreamed of receiving.  The gift was the 6 string guitar that once belonged to their sister Eva Leta, whom Aunt Wanda has always called "Skeet."  Tragically, she passed away of cancer in June of 1997.  I have very fond memories of my Aunt Eva pickin' and a grinnin' on a guitar.  I have a very special memory of the last time she played her guitar for me in 1995 just 2 years before she died.  Wanda got the old guitar after Eva's death and had it for many years.  However, when I received the guitar it was not in good shape because of an unfortunate breakdown in understanding/communication that had occurred.  My Aunt Wanda had thought the guitar had been placed in a closed-in storage unit when her house addition was built.  However, it was not in the closed-in storage unit.  She discovered it recently in a boarded and tarped-up trailer and realized it had endured weather extremes and water damage for years.  This really didn't matter to my sentimental self and surprisingly after some time at cleaning it up and fixing on it, I restrung it and was thrilled with how well it played and sounded.  It really was wonderful!  I was even able to save and recondition the guitar strap my Aunt Eva had used.  I was also able to find out through some online research that the old guitar, a Picador, was built in Japan using the Martin patterns and was sold in the 70's and 80's for around $300.00.  It is an absolutely wonderful full-bodied dreadnought guitar that is truly a treasure to me!

first pictures of the head and body before I fixed this guitar up

all fixed up, safe in its new case
After I completed the work on the guitar that used to be my aunt's I decided now was the time to completely take-down and redo the old classical that I originally fixed up for Justin.  I had many ideas and goals for the old guitar but one of my primary goals was stemmed from something I learned as a trumpet player my freshman year of high-school.  Our band had a female guest one day who was a professional French Horn player.  She removed her horn from her case and instead of seeing a typical beautiful, shiny horn, hers was dull and drab and really kind-of ugly.  All of us in the band sort of raised one eye-brow as we critically thought,  "She is a professional French Horn player and she plays with that?!!!"  But she went on to explain that her French Horn was custom built (WOW!! Who knows what that cost??) and that hers did not have the traditional finish on it because traditional finishes have been proven to dampen sound-waves! Wow!  Who knew?  I thought about sanding down my old trumpet that night but thank-goodness for my dear mother's sake, I never did.  However, the idea stuck with me, and was one of my main motivations to begin stripping this guitar down.  I knew that if I didn't have some sort of catastrophic failure while disassembling it, sanding it down and fixing the chips and holes that I would have an opportunity to finish it (actually to condition it) in a product that I have used for a long time.  I haven't ever used this product on wood, even though it advertises for wood-conditioning.  The product is called Skidmore's Leather Cream or Skidmore's Wood Restoration Cream which is actually the same thing.
You can check out their wonderful products at www.skidmores.com  
Another reason I wanted to use a conditioner instead of a hard finish is because the guitar has what I call a broken left rib.  This has caused the top to have a con-caved indention on the top of the guitar below the failed wood-rib.  I intend to fix this but need the top to be flexible to accomplish this plan. A hard top that is not flexible will cause the top to crack or even completely fail when I attempt to jack up the failed wood-rib and attach it back to it's original location.  I most likely won't be able to accomplish this for quite some time as the conditioner must penetrate slowly, over time, all the way through the wood on the top.  But even if I never fix the broken wood-rib the guitar is still wonderful!    

Sanding down the 3 coats of paint


My first-ever inlay of what Isaac called "Jesus' Star"using Victor Englert's engraving tools.

The first coat of Skidmores to the neck/head

The finger-board side of the neck's first coat

There's a wall-hanger! Shelly called it a "deer-ring."

The repaired back of guitar veneer failures, holes, and chips using epoxy mixed with guitar's sawdust 

First application of Skidmores cream to guitar top.  

First coat of Skidmores to the beautifully grained sides which is a different wood than the top

Skidmores sure smells good too!

Just hangin' out to dry

Me with  "Rooster" after the 2nd coat and with brand new strings
Check out the beautiful natural color which doesn't come close to the beautiful natural sound it makes! 
Once the new rosette came in the mail, I unstrung the guitar and removed the bridge/saddle to apply it.

Blessings to you all! I'm gonna go pick & grin some MORE!
Love from your pard', Whit, husband of.......

The Innkeeper

Outside Whit's Inn:  A Hunting Tale
The Hart Way
(Hart is old English for Deer)

This is a story of my bow-hunting adventure in the hill-country of Texas over the first weekend in October 2011.  I was honored to hunt with my fine friend and bow-hunting partner Taylor H.  He is an inspiration to me.  I am happy to say that after many, many years, (actually decades) I am finally able to scratch a wish off my “bucket list” because I “colored an arrow,” as my younger brother who is the mighty hunter, would say. 

To begin with, you need to know that I shoot traditional archery.  Just one of my many traditional archer heroes is Tred Barta who made popular the slogan, “The hard way! - The Tred Barta way!” because of his choice in using traditional archery equipment.  The title of the story is a little play on those words but true to the message of Tred’s infamous slogan and truly about my Hart hunt.  The beautiful bow I was using is a custom-built longbow called “the Whip” hand-built by Dan Toelke from Montana.  The riser is made from Mexican Cocobolo and the limbs are made from Montana Juniper harvested after a big fire went through the area.  It is a beautiful piece of art that also functions flawlessly!  You can see his incredible work here: http://montanabows.com/cms/   The arrow that killed the deer was hand-built by primitive bowyer John Halverson from the Black Hills of South Dakota, who also built another bow of mine (a primitive custom English Longbow that is a 71 inch Hickory bow that dons a sealed, black linen backing, and Osage Orange tip overlays).  The arrows are made from Douglas Fir, individually spined for the bow weight and individually numbered.  The fletching is from wild Turkey wing hand wrapped/tied.  The arrows are self-nocked.  I found an incredible man who hand knaps arrowheads from Obsidian rock.  I purchased some of these very beautiful arrowheads and hand tied them onto the arrows with sinew.  Here is a link to Randy’s beautiful hand knapping work: http://www.ebay.com/sch/iwriteforhim/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=25&_trksid=p3692  

My arrow quiver is special to me because I made it using Diamondback Rattlesnake skins that I killed while we lived in the country.  The large skin and rattle on the bottom section of the quiver was from the largest snake killed on the place which was 54 inches long.

The evening hunt had me at my chosen spot, beneath the boughs of an Oak tree.  It was half-way up a small bluff overlooking a conglomeration of trails which all intersected into one small area where the wires of the fence had fallen down next to a dry creek bed.  I had found it earlier in the day while stalk-hunting and made a mental note of this sweet-spot.  You see, I still hunt using the ethics I learned from the state in-which I was raised which is the Big Sky State of Montana where “feeders” are illegal.  I hunt in a way defined as “Fair Chase.”  I also use traditional archery equipment during the Archery Only season because it presents a much greater challenge.  I believe that this method of hunting is the closest one can get to real hunting and is the most ethical, the most challenging, and the most rewarding method of hunting.  Sadly, it is a method and ethic that is not embraced by many in the Lone Star State of Texas.  I recognize that part of the root-cause of the unethical method of “feeders” lies in the fact that there is very little public land and private land access presents many challenges.  However, I do not yield to those challenges even if it means years of not being able to hunt or hunts that do not result in a harvest.  To me, not harvesting an animal, does not define success or non-success.  In my humble opinion all hunting experiences are successful because of the opportunity to get to hunt and the knowledge and experienced gained while engaging in that opportunity.  In truth, hunting this way usually does not result in a harvest because it is so difficult and challenging.  But, what a sweet blessing it is though when one overcomes all of the difficulties and challenges and a plan all works out.  This is such a story.

The Tree

As I sat under the beautiful boughs of the Oak tree upon the very parched land I reflected upon the past year and the unprecedented drought that has painfully gripped Texas, Oklahoma, and other states.  -A drought for the record books.  The unbelievable amount of land burned by fire along with thousands of homes came to mind.  The massive selling off of cattle due to lack of feed or water and the extended repercussions we all will face because of that.  Also realizing that the only reason we were able to hunt here was because there was a windmill water pump that was pumping water to a tank that every living creature in the area came from miles around to satisfy their thirst from.  Which is one reason I sat where I sat as to possibly intercept the thirsty deer on its’ way to the water-tank.  Also, I thought of the desperate situations the towns and communities were in, including my current hometown.  Towns that have lost, or are near losing their water source because of such lack of moisture.  And so, I sat there for a while just thinking and grieving within my heart for the dire desperation of everyone and everything that was enduring miserable suffering from this horrible drought.  While in thought and prayer I began to compare this miserable situation to the spiritual life of one who was enduring a spiritual drought per se.  As one of my photos shows, I carry in my fanny pack what I refer to as my “little pocket knife.”  It’s one of my bibles.  And my thoughts sent me looking at Psalm 42 which reads in my KJV pocket-knife,”As the hart, panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.  My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?  My tears have been my meat day and night, while the continually say unto me, Where is thy God?  When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day.  Why art thou cast down, O my soul?  And why art thou disquieted in me?  Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.  O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.  Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all the waves and thy billows are gone over me.  Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.  I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?  As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies repoarch me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?  Why art thou cast down, O my soul?  And why art thou disquieted within me?  Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”       
I humbly sat there and reflected on the relevancy of those words which were written thousands of years ago.  Here I was trying to intercept a thirsty hart on land that is known to the family and the locals around there as the “Jordan” place.  That is more than ironic to me.  I also thanked the LORD that He “will command his lovingkindness in the daytime…”  This promise brought me near to tears for I realized there can be no greater lovingkindness than that of the LORD.  And so I agreed in my desire with the writer David in the final verse of the chapter.  “I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

My reflections were interrupted by some of the local cattle who desired to go from the top of the bluff down the trail I was sitting by to the creek-bottom to eat what little foliage there is left.  However, they were unwilling to go down the trail because I was there.  I did not move and they milled around up there for about 10 -15 minutes.  I thought at one point that if they stay there they are going to ruin my plan and thought seriously of getting up and running them out of there but they eventually walked away towards the South along the top of the small bluff.  I remember that I had prayed and asked God to create a diversion that might grant me an opportunity for a shot if it was His will.  I dozed off for a little while but woke to the chorus of dozens of coyotes howling in ensemble to my South.  Wow, their chorus was beautifully haunting and ended as abruptly as it started.  I quickly noticed a doe and her fawn working their way towards me.  Ever so cautiously she came closer and closer and I thought that I just might get a shot.  She paused for a while not liking something and turned around and slowly retreated to her area of safety in the thick and dark bottom-land.  I thought for a while that I had missed my chance by less than 10 feet.  Because if she had walked just 10 more steps she would have entered into my shooting lane.  She did not.  Just after she disappeared back into the darkness and cover of the densely populated trees and cover of the bottom area of the creek I heard from below there some cows mooing.  I quickly realized that those cows that had once been just above me had traveled along the top of the bluff South-ward and then walked down into that bottom area and were now making their way toward me trying to get to the fence-crossing and down into the creek bottom.  I began to see that this was the answer to my earlier prayer for a diversion as the cows were pushing the deer towards me.  I got ready.  I saw the doe and her fawn appear again.  The doe knew something was up and went back into the woods.  In a few seconds I saw a young buck coming up from the creek bottom going toward the easy fence crossing in his pursuit to get to the water tank just as I had hoped and planned for.  The scene was unfolding perfectly.  The wind was in my face, the cows were causing enough of a ruckus that he did not notice me and kept walking closer and closer.  And then, there he was, exactly where I wanted him to be at about 16 yards.  As I sat on my right rump with my knees together and bent, I instinctively drew my longbow while aiming the arrow at a small spot on the vitals of the left side of the buck.  I anchored the arrow to my cheek-bone and let it fly!  The arrow flew straight and true but the young buck heard the “thunk” of the string and being startled tried to quickly turn back to his right but it was too late.  His jump caused my arrow to hit him on his left side further back than I wanted.  He jumped again when the arrow struck him and he ran like the wind across the dry creek-bed.  Once on the other side he stopped for just a second and it was then that I saw the fletching of my arrow just barely sticking out of his left side.  He wheeled around in a quick circle and bolted up the creek bed like a rocket, seemingly unscathed.  I couldn’t believe what just happened.  I took some deep breaths and thanked God.  I mentally marked the “shot-sight” and the last place I saw him.  I then sat down and ate something in order to pass time.  Once I finished, I very quietly and cautiously went to the shot sight.  I investigated it and marked it.  The shot sight did not have any noticeable blood.  I slowly tracked the buck across the dry creek bed.  Still, no blood!  Once on the other side of the creek I found where he did his circle and I marked that spot too.  Still, no blood at all anywhere!  I began to have a very sick feeling about the daunting task and possible outcome of this situation.  I then tried tracking him up the dry creek bed but in vain as there are thousands of deer, cow, and wild hog tracks in the bed.  Darkness now fell upon me and I was forced to abandon tracking the buck and go back to the cabin.

Taylor was expecting me and actually was becoming slightly concerned and was in the process of putting lights out for me to see.  However, I was less than 50 yards from the cabin when he did that.  I told him all of what happened.  He was excited but also as concerned as I was.  He asked me if I thought that the buck was really gut shot.  I explained to him that my bow-hunter safety teacher taught us that if an animal is gut shot that the archer should not pursue the game for at least 6 to 8 hours.  Taylor also asked what my plan was for the next morning and I told him that I intended on waiting until it was good and light out and then go back to the shot-sight and start over.  He informed me that he wanted to hunt the water tank in the morning.  We both knew without talking about it that if the deer did die in the night and I was fortunate to even find it that most likely it would be rotted because of the high temperatures.  We went inside, prepared some supper, and gave thanks to God.  Shortly thereafter we went to bed. 

Taylor arose earlier than I and was almost out the door before I got up.  I was in no hurry because I needed the bright sunlight to help me in tracking.  After I ate, dressed, and got my gear ready I began my task of trying to find the buck.  I got to the shot-sight and spent quite a bit of time thoroughly investigating the area for any blood and I also looked for the arrow.  After exhausting all possibilities and not finding any blood or the arrow, I went to the place he made the circle and did the same thing there.  I did not find any blood there either.  I began tracking his tracks which I was able to do with good light for almost 100 yards but lost them among the host of other tracks in the creek-bed.  I never once saw even one drop of blood.  Because I lost his tracks I began walking back and forth in a zig-zag pattern slowly making my way North.  I had traveled about 400 yards North of the shot-sight when I suddenly stopped realizing the daunting task of what lay ahead of me.  I looked out across the terrain and thought, “It would be easier to find a needle in a haystack than to find this deer.”  I then prayed and simply said, “LORD, I could really use your help!”  No sooner had I muttered my request to the Almighty when I heard noise coming from the fence on the Eastern side of the property.  The fence is a high-fence put in by the neighbors to keep their exotic game in.  I listened a bit and heard it again.  I went North and then East and quietly and cautiously approached the place where I thought I heard the sound coming from.  As I walked up the rise I couldn’t believe my eyes because there next to the fence, lying on the ground was the buck.  His left horn was stuck in the fence, but he was still alive!  He was still alive!  This meant he could be eaten which is the main reason I hunt!  I slowly came closer to him and when I got within a few feet of him I noticed that he had stopped breathing.  I did an old hunting trick I learned from my father to see if he was alive by gently touching his eyeball with the tip of my arrow to see if he would blink.  (Note: almost all animals will blink their eye if they are still alive and won’t if they are dead.)  The buck did not blink even after several attempts.  I stood there in complete amazement of what had just unfolded in-that this buck exerted his last strength to tell me where he was.  It’s almost as if he was saying, “Hey, I’m over here.  Come over here please.”  And once I did, he died.  Oh the Creator truly is amazing!

Taylor joined me shortly after that because the neighbors who have the land to the West of the place came and made all kinds of loud noises spoiling his hunting spot.  He approached me from the North and in the process had kicked out two big, black, wild hogs.  There something about Taylor and big, black, wild hogs!!  (Read his “A Hogs Tale” here http://thetaylorites.blogspot.com/2011/10/hogs-tale.html )  When he saw me he thought I was on one of those hogs because I was kneeling down over something.  I waved him over to me.  When he saw that it was my deer and listened to me explain that it just now died when I approached it, he couldn’t believe it either.  Standing there over this beautiful deer completely amazed by the significance of it all I paused for just a moment and I prayed out-loud a prayer of thanksgiving to our amazing God.  We then took a few pictures.  

We drug him down-hill a bit and then began the field-dressing process.  Taylor had remembered to bring his deer-harness dragger and we both drug the deer back down the dry creek-bed through the unforgiving sand and rocks, back to the shot-sight.  We took a break there while I explained the scene to Taylor.  After we caught our breath we drug him up the trail to the top of the bluff.  We left him there while we walked back to the cabin and I got the pickup and went back and loaded him up.  We hung him up at the “hangin tree” at the cabin and we skinned him and then quartered him.  We had taken a large ice-chest with 40#’s of extra ice and we washed the meat off with windmill water in large buckets and then placed it into the chest with ice on the top of it.  After that we packed up and drove home very happy and grateful hunters for having such a blessed hunting trip.  The next evening we got together for supper.  I had taken an entire front quarter and seared it and smoked it with Mesquite and Pecan wood on my “Whit Pit” for a couple of hours and then placed it in an aluminum tray with potatoes and carrots and onions and onion soup mix and BBQ sauce with a half a pan of water and put it back out on the grill for several more hours and served it up.  It was the finest deer I have tasted so far in Texas.  Everyone who ate it enjoyed it.  After Alesha H.'s homemade pie and some ice-cream and tall tales from the trip we proceeded to the kitchen for the fine task of cutting up the meat.  What a joy to engage in such task.  We did it with smiles on our faces! 

The End.
Whitley R Bradberry