Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for and to spend time with family and friends. This year Jim and I decided to spend Thanksgiving in Commerce Texas with Johnny Kennedy. Johnny is the Archery Pro Staff director for Nikon Sport Optics and the Ranch Manager for Circle T Bowhunting Ranch. We have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Johnny for 10 years and he is more like family, aka “Big Daddy”, than someone we work with.
Circle T Bowhunting ranch is a sprawling ranch owned by Kenneth Tallent who was born and raised in McKinney Texas. He established Circle T Bowhunting Ranch in 2003 and it boast a large population of whitetail deer and exotics. Kenneth also owns and operates Tallent Roofing in McKinney Texas and six other states. North Texas Archery Shop is another of Kenneth’s businesses which is located in Farmersville Texas.
We arrived at the ranch on Friday before Thanksgiving for our seven day hunt and were greeted by Johnny and Juan, who is one of the ranch hands. That afternoon we got unloaded and settled in and spent some quality time with Johnny. He gave us the grand tour of the ranch, the bunkhouse and the rifle and archery range. Then we were off to Wal-Mart. No trip would be complete without a venture to Wally World to get groceries and a few supplies. For those that know me, going to Wally World is the equivalent of having all my teeth pulled without Novocain, no that would be pleasant in comparison, anyway you get the point. I hate shopping.
Saturday we were up at 5:00 and headed to the stand shortly thereafter. Jim was going to sit on the edge of a huge food plot that Johnny had planted several months earlier and Johnny and I headed to a box blind in the woods that sits close to a travel corridor 60 yards from another food plot. We were hunting management deer that Kenneth wanting culled so were looking for 8 and 9 point bucks. Kenneth also told us that he had two bucks that needed to be harvested. One buck had a white right eye that they assumed has been damaged in a fight and they knew it was infected. The other buck had a mass growing on his face below the eye. He told us if we saw either of these deer to harvest them.
Our first morning and evening hunt were great. Jim and I saw plenty of deer but they either had too many points or not enough. Seeing so many deer on the first day had us excited for the week ahead. Our evening ended with elk steaks on the grill, great friends and a campfire under the stars. I honestly believe that all the world’s problems could be solved sitting around a campfire.
Sunday we were up and eager to get back to the woods to see what would materialize. The morning again was good and while Jim and I saw plenty of whitetail, they seemed to know to stay out of bow range. Johnny and I had several nice bucks come in and one little spike buck came in everyday so we nicknamed him Jr. One of his tines was a knurled looking nub and the other one was about 6” long. Jim saw him a few times as well and another spike that had the same horn configuration but on the opposite side. Neither of us drew on a whitetail that day but just getting to sit and watch them you learn a lot. You know you’re in the zone when you have deer come within 10 yards and never know your there. We attribute that to our Wildlife Research Center Scent Killer regimen.
Sunday we broke for lunch and then headed back to our blinds. Jim decided to sit in a box blind just below the tripod stand he had been sitting in. The temps were in the low 70’s but the wind had really kicked up with 40 and 50 mile an hour gust so he decided a box blind might be a little more productive and offer some protection. Johnny and I headed back to the blind we had been hunting from. There had been a lot of activity and some great bucks; there were several trails that intersected to the right of the blind to the main trail that lead to the food plot.
Johnny and I had some nice bucks come by but again they were either too big or too small. So when it was too dark to see the pins on my Sure-Loc Max ST sight we quietly left the blind and headed back up the road to pick Jim up.
As we turned the corner of the food plot I saw Jim standing by the road with his flashlight but there was something different about the light. I said to Johnny “A dancing light – I believe Jim has one on the ground”. As we got closer to Jim the light went from dancing to a laser light show. We were almost to him when I could make out a dark shape laying on the ground, as I strained my eyes in the darkness the lights on the Kawasaki Mule swept the ground near Jim. Not only had he taken a super buck he had taken two!
By the time we finally got to Jim he was all but jumping up and down with excitement. He was still shaking and was talking so fast that we could hardly make out anything he was saying. He finally gained his composure and told us the story of his best day ever.
When Jim arrived at his blind the wind was blowing hard and of course in the wrong direction. The wind was blowing at the back of the blind so before Jim climbed in he hung a Wildlife Research Center Trophy Leaf in Golden Estrus scent on a limb on the edge of the food plot about 20 yards in front of his blind. His plan was to use the wind to carry the scent of the Trophy Leaf across the food plot and help mask any human odor.
The first part of the afternoon was uneventful and he was afraid there would be no activity due to the wind, but he was wrong. A little after 3:00pm he saw movement on the other side of the food plot which was 300 yards away. He picked up his Leupold binoculars and found what he was looking for. It was a nice buck making a scrape and working over his licking branch. He watched him for several minutes and said all of a sudden the buck just froze. He stood motionless and then put his nose in the wind and here he came. Jim said it looked as if he was being reeled in on a fishing pole. The big buck came at a trot as Jim was watched trying to count tines. He counted 9 points and finally decided it was time to lay the bino’s down and pick up his bow and get ready for a shot.
The deer never slowed its pace until it put its nose on the Golden Estrus Trophy leaf. Jim counted the points again as the buck quickly approached; the deer was 24 yards away. The buck was never totally still and a little nervous, the rut had started and the deer were all a little jumpy. As the buck further investigated the Trophy Leaf Jim patiently waited for him to turn enough for him to draw his bow without being detected. Finally the buck turned enough for Jim to draw and gave him a broadside shot. Jim delivered the 100 grain Muzzy tipped Carbon Express Maxima Hunter arrow for a double lung shot.
The big buck didn’t go 30 yards before he expired in the edge of the wood line. After Jim had time to calm down he put his bino’s up to take another look at the buck. The buck was not a 9 point, it was a big main frame 10! This is the largest buck Jim has ever harvested with his bow.
Jim knew it would be a long wait till dark before he could get out of the blind to retrieve the deer but he knew it would be worth the wait. Jim also had more whitetail tags he was wanting to fill; you can harvest two deer a day in Hunt County. So he settled back in his seat and waited to see if the herd of doe’s that frequented the field would come in and give him a shot.
As he sat there watching the field he caught movement out of the corner of his eye to his left. He slowly turned his head hoping it would be the doe’s beginning to ease out of the wood line. It was not the doe he hoped for; instead it was the buck with the bad eye that Kenneth had told us about. Jim watched it slowly come out across the field and head for the Wildlife Trophy leaf. Jim again picked up his bow, hoping the buck would offer him a shot.
Jim noticed the buck was really favoring the side with his bad eye and could tell when he got into range that his eye was infected. He walked deliberately toward the Trophy Leaf but stopped at about 35 yards. The buck had seen the deer Jim had shot that was laying 30 yards away. The bad eye buck was curious as to why the big buck was just laying there.
Jim knew with the bad eye the buck wouldn’t see him draw so he came to full draw, sighted on the kill zone and squeezed the trigger on his Tru-Ball release. The thwack of the arrow let Jim know that this would be his best day ever in the field. The buck dropped in his tracks from a high shoulder shot.
We headed back to the ranch house to get the truck, there was no way we could load two bucks on the back of the Kawasaki Mule. When we got the bucks back to the ranch house we finally got a good look at the buck with one eye, we named him Igor. He was a main frame 9 point with two non typical points. Not only was his eye damaged but his front hoof on that side had an odd formation as well. His eye was infected and so was that side of his face. Jim really did him a favor and Kenneth was glad that the buck was culled from the herd.
What an awesome hunt and being able to share it with Johnny and Kenneth made it that much more special. We look forward to our next adventure in Texas and who knows maybe it will be another day when Jim and I will look at each other and say. “This is the best day ever”. Jim has hunted whitetail in 12 different states and Texas is at the top of his list, bar none.
We can’t thank Kenneth enough for having us down to hunt at the Circle T Bowhunting Ranch. We enjoyed spending time with him and Shannon at their palatial home and the awesome chilli Kenneth prepared for us for supper one night after a hard day of hunting. We enjoyed the week with Johnny and getting to hunt with him and spend some quality time around the campfire. As for me, did I get to flex my bow? Let’s just say that’s another story.
If you were wondering what the two bucks scored that Jim harvested the 10pt scored 144 and Igor scored 142 and some change.
Circle T Bowhunting Ranch is a great place for everyone to hunt. So bring your family and have the time of your life. Ladies if you are looking for a quality hunt where you will be treated with respect and appreciated for the hunter that you are this is the place you want to hunt. To book a quality hunt with a well managed whitetail herd book your hunt with Circle T Bowhunting Ranch. You will have the time of your life and possibly your best day ever in the field.
To book a hunt please go to: Circle T Bowhunting Ranch or call Johnny Kennedy 1-972-814-4440.