Last year my youngest brother Fred kept harvesting critters in northeast Oklahoma, while I struggled to see anything in drought stricken north Texas.
North Texas looked, smelled, and felt like being on the moon. Everything was brittle, dried up and turning to dust. After ribbing me for months, Fred finally extended an invitation to hunt with him the weekend after the Oklahoma rut. Without hesitation, I packed my gear and headed north, expecting to see something the very next day.
I also thought I could get even with little brother for all his ribbing. I hid my knives in my backpack and planned to convince him to gut my deer since I had “lost” my knives. Then, after we put a freshly field dressed muy grande in the back of the truck, I planned on finding the knives.
Little did I know how evil little brothers can be!
During the six hour drive to Rogers County, Okla., I wondered how his 40-acre property could produce so much game while I’m hunting hundreds of acres in West Texas and seeing nothing but starving grasshoppers. I was convinced I was the better hunter in the family or, at the very least, had spent more on hunting than anyone else, at least that’s what my wife says.
I arrived midday in Inola and unpacked while listening to great-white-Texas-hunter jokes my dad and brother had prepared ahead of time.
None too soon we set off to see the lay of the land. It was a great setup. In the middle of a heavily wooded draw was a nice pond and creek that opened up to hay fields. The draw formed the most natural pinch point you could imagine, so it was not uncommon for Fred to see deer traveling across the property throughout the season.
His stands were in great locations and situated so there was a stand for most any wind direction. It was odd to have stands so high off the ground; the area I hunt in Texas is mostly mesquite trees, rarely taller than 10 feet.
Fred assured me he’d taken deer, bobcats and coyotes over the last few years from the stand he wanted me to use. He really liked hunting with his Encore blackpowder rifle, but had just as much luck with a bow. I was using my Black Diamond blackpowder rifle, and informed Fred my superior hunting skills would make it easy to kill a buck much larger than his biggest.
Fred reminded me of the picture of the deer he shot earlier that season and said my sissy load wouldn’t knock over his deer. I told him I’d be limited only by my guide!
The next morning we reminisced over bowls of Fruity Pebbles, the cereal that can only be surpassed by Mom’s secret pancake recipe. We flipped a coin to see who would finish off the newly opened cereal box then headed out. I was reluctant to ride in his new Ford pickup because he’d added several derogatory bumper stickers regarding my Hemi, but it got us to the stand without getting stuck, despite the driver.
We parked, I grabbed my gear and followed Fred to the stand. Of course, the trail to the stand was not cleared, and Fred let me eat a few limbs along the way. Never follow your brother in the dark down a deer trail you hope to see deer on later. I couldn’t answer when he asked me if Texas even had a tree because my teeth were full of bark.
I climbed 10 levels up on screw-in steps to his stand, which was at least 18 feet in the air. I wasn’t going to admit we didn’t have trees as tall as that stand on my lease in Texas. It just would have added fuel to the fire. The stand was comfortable and had everything but a cup holder, but I had to tell him Texas treestands have cup holders, heated seats and a rearview camera to see deer coming from behind.
Once I was situated, Fred headed to a stand a few hundred yards away, north of nice pond surrounded by red oaks. He’d just put up his stand that week, at least that’s what he told me.
As the sun rose and the woods came alive, I realized how much I miss Oklahoma. With the meadowlarks singing in the hay fields, red oaks lining the countryside and my brother just a few hundred yards away, it took me back to our home place in Winganon.
The sun peaked through the trees, revealing the trail Fred had led me through, the same one he promised great deer of the north would surely use. I noticed it was well traveled and led to a hay field just to my right. According to Fred, many deer had been taken from this stand by himself and his nephew over the last few years. I was ready and excited to harvest a muy grande buck, using my superior hunting skills, and once and for all, showcasing my master hunter talent for little brother.
The early morning came and went with only squirrels grubbing for acorns. I felt my stomach calling for another bowl of Fruity Pebbles when a shot rang out though the creek bottom. I was not ready for that! I almost ruined his fancy seat cushion — and later wished I had!
I waited 30 minutes in case a deer spooked my way. With nothing coming down my trail, I decided to see if Fred needed help. I was hoping he missed so I could charge him for shooting lessons. I wasn’t halfway across the hay meadow when another shot echoed across the countryside.
I laughed, thinking it took two shots to knock down a management deer. By now, I had enough one-liners to make him regret inviting me. I walked across the rest of hay meadow and toward the pond where he was hunting.
The pond was just down from the hay meadow and halfway down a draw full of red oaks that eventually dropped off into a creek. I wasn’t 5 yards down the trail entering the stand of red oaks and there laid a nice 9-point buck. Heading my way was Fred wearing a giant Okie grin on his face.
“Guess you heard the shot,” he said.
I asked Fred why he put two bullet holes in this obviously road killed deer.
“I only shot the buck once. The second shot I saved for the coyote!”
Of course my jaw fell as he roared with laughter. We walked down the trail, and 20 yards away was huge, old coyote.
“I shot the deer earlier and was giving it a little time while reloading my Encore when I noticed something coming from your direction: a big coyote. I couldn’t believe it, I figured he was probably terrified of the great hunter from Texas and headed my way.”
Just my luck. Fred made two great shots and neither animal ran more than 10 feet. The buck was not a Booner, but a nice, big bodied 8-pointer. I had forgotten how much bigger deer in Oklahoma were than where I hunted in Texas. The coyote was also big and had a thick coat.
Of course, he asked if I’d seen anything.
I did what any self-respecting brother would do and stretched the truth!
I told him I had a muy grande buck all lined up but his shot spooked him! Somehow, I think I ended up on the new stand, and he was on the old tried and true, but he would never admit it. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t have, either.
We drug the deer and coyote to the hay field, and Fred drove his Ford around to load them up. As we were ready to clean the deer, Fred seemed to be hunting for something.
“Guess I left my knife at home. Do you mind field dressing this deer for me?” he asked. Oh, brother!