Lessons Learned by Randy Rowley


On 12/22/04 – 12/23/04, Allen Neumann and I went on a deer and hog hunt at the Siller Ranch near Derby in Frio County.  The Ranch is about 15 miles as the crow flies from Lee Ewald’s ranch near Dilley.  Mario Siller has about a 200 acre field that he once farmed.  The field is surrounded by woods and contains five of his seven blinds and nine of his 13 feeders.  His other 50 acres are heavily wooded.  His blinds were the best that I have ever seen.  They were big, carpeted, and insulated.  The one that I hunted from on 12/22/04 had a propane heater in it and a chase lounge pad.  You could easily sleep in them.  They also had little shade ledges over each window.

On the first afternoon hunt we hunted the heavily wooded area.  Allen had a lot of quail and dove come to his feeder, but he didn’t see any game.  I also had several quail and dove come to my feeder.  However, I was blessed with the sight of an approximately 200 lb. hog.  I had put corn piles in three spots with Pig Out bait on them.  At dusk the pig, which was on the Mesquite Bowhunting Ranch (next to Mario’s property), ran straight to my closest Pig Out pile.  Unfortunately he couldn’t get through Mesquite’s hog proof fence.

The following morning was windy and a chilly 30 degrees.  I decided to hunt a blind bordering the open field.  The stand that I chose overlooked two feeders about 80 yards away on opposite sides of the blind and another feeder about 200 yards away.  About 7:25 I saw a doe at the far feeder.  I put my scope on her but she was presenting her hind end to me.  She suddenly bolted and ran about two thirds of the way across the field.  She was now about 300 yards away.  She stopped and I took a broadside shot.  I know that I hit her because she started to slowly limp away.  She stopped twice more and I shot both times.  I lost sight of her near some green mesquites.

A sickening feeling sprang up from my gut and enveloped me.  I realized that I failed to compensate for bullet drop.  At 300 yards a 180 grain .30-06 bullet from a rifle that was sighted in at 100 yards (which mine was) will drop more than a foot.  I aimed for her front shoulder so I’m pretty sure that I hit her front lower leg due to the fact that she started limping immediately after the shot.  Adding to my misery was the fact that an animal had been wounded due to my stupidity and I probably would not find her. She would probably suffer and eventually be taken down by coyotes, unless another hunter mercifully killed her first.

I decided to wait 30 minutes and then go look for her.  I was hoping that I had hit her further up and that she would lay down and die.  About 10 minutes later I saw another doe walking along a fence on the opposite side of the field.  She was about 250 yards away.  After walking around 100 yards, she came to a stop.  This time I aimed at her upper back.  When I fired she immediately kicked her back legs high over her head.  She ran a few yards and stopped.  I shot again.  I lost sight of her in the tall grass but marked where I thought that she was.  I decided to wait 30 minutes and then to go look for both does.

About 15 minutes later a five point buck came out of the trees that bordered the field.  He was just 80 yards away.  He walked straight at me but only presented a neck shot.  He stopped but I passed on the shot.  I thought that something might be wrong with my scope, even thought I shot a hog with it two weeks before at the 11/26/04 – 11/27/04 Deer and Hog Hunt.  He promptly turned around and walked back the way he came.  A few minutes later he popped out about 100 yards on the other side of the blind.  He was walking away, presenting his rear end.  Suddenly he stopped and turned around and started walking back towards me.  He presented a 2/3 broadside but there was very tall grass in front of him.  I put the crosshairs where his shoulder should be and fired.

I decided to give up on the traditional 30 minute wait and immediately went to look for him.  To my surprise, the tall grass was growing up from the earthen dam of a dried up tank.  The dirt was about three feet high.  He was walking behind the dam.  I’m sure that instead of easily blowing through grass my bullet slammed into dirt.  I went to look for the first two deer and couldn’t find either.  I gave up the search and went and picked up Allen at our agreed upon time.  We looked for the second doe first and, after a long search, Allen found her.  She was about 40 yards closer that I calculated her to be.  The first bullet had grazed her lower torso, doing no real damage.  The second bullet hit her neck.  After a long search we gave up on finding the first doe.

I learned some valuable lesions that day.  The farthest shot at a deer that I had taken (and made) prior to this was about 145 yards away and I had never shot at rifle range targets further than 100 yards away.  I also did not know my .30-06 ballistic table (a 180 grain Federal Nosler Partition drops 14.6 inches at 300 yards and drifts 7.3 inches with a 10 MPH crosswind).  I was obviously not prepared to make the first two shots that I was presented with.  The hunt caused me to spend some time at Eagle Peak Shooting Ranges 200 yard range and to invest in a decent laser range finder.

Randy and his second doe

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