Memories Of Deer Hunts Past Luke Clayton Im coming to you from a cabin back in the woods this month. Im on a 2 day bow hunt for deer and the location is within arrow shot of beautiful Lake Texoma situated on the Texas-Oklahoma border. Im hunting one of those obscure big buck hotspots. If you didnt know the track record of this section of the state for producing big bucks, you might think the spot Ive been hunting is just another scenic stretch of Lake Texoma shoreline, covered with oaks and cedars. Photo by Luke Clayton My buddies have headed back home. They all have to be on the job in the morning. I feel truly blessed to be on duty anytime I pick up a hunting bow or fishing rod. I have a tendency to get a bit nostalgic when Im spending time alone. Im in my mid fifties, as surprising as it seems to me, closer to sixty than the half-century mark. Ive had more than my share of great memories in the deer woods and around deer camps in my more than four decades hunting deer. Ill never forget my first real deer hunt when I was 11. My brother in law invited me to join him and a veteran deer hunter in Red River County in northeast Texas, not far from our home. Earlier that day, we went to a camp that was set up by a group of sure nuff deer hunters. It was in the early sixties and Im sure many of these guys were WWII veterans. They had a couple of big Army surplus wall tents set up and, on the meatpole, hung three whitetail bucks. This was my first time to be in camp and even though the event took place over 40 years ago, I will never forget the excitement I felt looking at those big racked bucks. This was the decisive moment when I became a lifelong deer hunter. Early the next morning, I sat on the limb of a big pine tree with my .410 shotgun loaded with a rifled slug. I was finally deer hunting! After three hours of watching wood peckers and squirrels, I was picked up by my brother in law and his friend. There were precious few whitetail deer in east Texas in those years and it took a good hunter to harvest one. Just around this bend, the veteran deer hunter said, Ive been watching three does and a little forkhorn for several days. Sure enough, as the 56 Crown Victoria Ford sedan rounded the bend in the logging road, we spotted deer, just where he said they would be. I WAS impressed. Since that fall, back in 61, I have had the opportunity to enjoy many, many deer camps with some mighty fine folks that share my passion for hunting whitetail. As a teenager, I was allowed to travel down to Waller County in Southeast Texas to hunt each fall with Poppa Dinkins. Oscar Dinkins was a lifelong deer hunter and cattle rancher. He was 80 years young when I first began hunting with him. On the gun rack in his house was an old 10 gauge Damascus barrel shotgun; the one he had used to collect the 36 fine whitetail shoulder mounts that graced the walls of his den. From the age of 14 through 18, I spent a week with Poppa on his ranch every fall, hunting deer and soaking up the woods lore that only someone from his era could have known. A slightly built man that was as tough as boot leather, Poppa told of the time he went into the den of a red wolf female which had been killed to retrieve the pups, which he raised and later released back into the wild. While in his mid eighties, Poppa and his ranch foreman, John, found a big eight pointer that had been caught in a hog wire fence on the ranch. The buck was in bad shape and was transported back to a corral close to Poppas house to be cared for. After doctoring the buck for several days, and just before his release, the buck gored Poppa in the mid section. I was not present when this occurred but I suspect Poppa was trying to doctor the bucks wounds and did not realize the deer had regained his strength. Poppa spent several weeks in the hospital but was good as new the next fall when I hunted with him! As an outdoors writer, Ive had the opportunity to hunt deer from the Canadian border to the wilds of Mexico and lots of places between. I can truly say I cant remember a deer hunt that I did not enjoy. Granted, my goal of a big buck on the meat pole was not always achieved but if lasting memories can be counted as trophies, I have acquired one heck of a trophy room! Things are getting pretty quiet here around the old hunting cabin. The only sound I hear is the clicking of the keys on my laptop and the humm of the refrigerator in the background. I have some Chorizo sausage defrosting and plan to enjoy some breakfast tacos early in the morning when my buddies return. Life is truly good! Ive hunted from far more Spartan camps! Its getting time to turn in. After all, morning comes quickly in the deer woods and I want to be fresh for that early morning encounter with Ole Mossy. Heres wishing you a happy deer season. And remember, just being there in pursuit of the grandest game animal in the world is enough hanging one on the game pole is icing on the cake! Listen to Luke Claytons Outdoors Radio Show at www.catfishradio.com.