(May 20-22, 2005)

……is the name of the ranch owned by Clent Rawlinson and his wife Judy. I met Clent almost a month ago when I got a call from the National Archery Association that a fellow was coming from the United Arab Emirates in Dubai to learn some archery and would I be available to teach this guy.

Clent is a manager for a large oil company that is based in Houston and some of the managers stationed overseas were coming to the corporate office for two weeks and this fellow wanted to learn some archery while he was here so he could help others back in Dubai as they have an archery club.

On his first day off from meetings (Sunday), we met at the Buffalo Field archery range in Houston where I was competing. He brought along J.D. who was a manager in the Jakarta (Indonesia) office. J.D. had never shot a bow before and was only tagging along with Clent as he had nothing else to do that day.

The two of them followed me around while I shot and then sat under the pavilion and went over the level one instructor's material for the next couple of hours. Part of the instructor's course involves instructing students so we used J.D. as the student and he instantly fell in love with archery. The three of us went to dinner afterwards and went over more archery. This guy is like a sponge when it comes to archery and everyone knows I can talk archery as long as you want to listen so it was a good match and we had a great time.

Clent was available the following Sunday and they came down to my place in Clear lake for the day. He passed his level-one with flying colors and wanted to learn more. I had a new bow that I wanted to tune so we went through the whole process.

J.D. was so hooked on archery that during the week, he went to a local archery shop and bought two beginners bows and a bunch of accessories. He was that excited about archery.

We went out to the archery field and worked on tuning my new bow and we also help J.D. set-up his new bow and he shot till his hearts content. We had him flinging arrows from 50 yards and was thrilled to hit the target.

That was the last I saw the two of them for awhile as J.D. went back to Jakarta and Clent was going to his ranch with his wife for a week. He invited us to come visit before he left to go back to work overseas. The timing was pretty good as I was to teach a class in Kerrville at the Lions Camp for the disabled.

The ranch was over an hour NW of Kerrville with miles and miles of nothing but rolling hills and stubby trees. This is what they call hill country. The paved road turned into an unimproved road. Nothing on either side of the road but high fence, which indicates game animals like white tail, sika, fallow, and axis. Fields full of sheep, goats and cattle. We were in the hill country for sure.

We turned off the highway and entered a high fence gate and then up and down countless hills, twists and turns in the road and a nasty hill that required low gear. After 4.5 miles of rough but scenic roads, we arrived at the end of their lane, marked by an empty feed bag.

Then the road got real rough, like in nasty rough, like it ALMOST needing a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Most of the mountain is what they call free-range as the exotic deer roam free but there is a lot of high-fence to try and keep as many exotics in certain areas - hopefully your ranchland.

There was some beauty to this country like the cactus flowers. We saw four different colors of flowers emerging from various cacti. To say the least, it brought a little beauty and color to the place. BUT, the isolation of the place is beauty unto itself as it was away from everything and everybody and having piece and quiet is a beautiful thing.

Right behind the camp is a high cliff, about 100 feet tall to where you can gaze out over the rest of their property and many hills beyond that. We grabbed some chairs and just lazily sat and looked around. There was a feeder down on the lower forty that was about 200 yards away. A 500 gallon portable water tank sat another couple hundred yards behind that. The creek bed is dry most of the time so portable water is needed.

We watched a fallow deer work its way down through the creek bed and browse. The feeder was set to go off at 7:30 pm and already, deer were heading that direction. The fallow lay down under some trees and kept a distance from the other deer. We spotted a coon scampering up the gulch and then disappear without a sound. As it neared 7:30, the deer moved within 10 yards of the feeder, some even gazed as if they knew it was almost feeding time.

Finally you could hear the mechanism come to life and fling corn all around the area. The deer moved in as close as possible. Also the deer that we didn't see came into view. The fallow got up and headed to the feeder and moved to the front of the pack, pushing the white-tail out of the way. There were over a dozen deer milling around. We all had binoculars and enjoyed watching them feed.

Within 15-20 minutes, all the kernels were picked up and the deer wandered away. Just before 8 pm, there was something coming to the feeder. We all grabbed our glasses and watched a stream of pigs/hogs move to the feeder. There were a dozen various size hogs and piglets heading for the feeder. I noticed they were shaded four distinct colors. Clent headed for the house to get the 25/06 rifle. When he came back out, I asked how far of a shot it would be; he said 195 yards from the tree and offered me the rifle.

I thought that was a sporting shot and leaned against the tree for some support. I squeezed off an empty chamber to get the feel of the trigger and held on the biggest one of the bunch. I took careful aim and squeeeeezed.

Clent and I jumped on the 4-wheeler and headed down to take a look. We found a single drop of blood at the feeder and a short distance away we found the big black one stretched out on the rocks.

We turned in for the night as it was a long day and a long drive from Houston - 380 miles.
Pre-Dawn Saturday morning came much too early as we had to get on the road early to get down to the camp in Kerrville. We had to be extra cautious of the game animals on the road and believe me - they were everywhere.

Over the five miles it took to get back on the hard road, we saw hundreds and hundreds of exotic deer. When we hit the highway, it was about ten miles before reaching the first junction and we saw hundreds and hundreds more deer on both side of the road. Most of them were behind high-fence and we saw a sizable amount of large antlers. I would estimate we saw 500 deer in the time we were there, less than 24 hours to be more accurate.

We saw a skunk scamper across the road, horses and lots of sheep, even some rams with ¾ and full curls. Going down a windy two-lane road, we saw a turkey glide across the road leading her brood of six new hatchlings.

We arrived at the Lions Camp for the disabled right before breakfast and it was always nice to see Amber, the camp counselor. Jacob was one of my students last year and he came up to see how my mom was doing as she came with me last year. Mom taught Jacob some German. What is special about Jacob is he knows sign language as his mother is deaf so he comes to the camp for the disabled to use his skills to teach other disabled kids. I remember him commenting to me last year on my archery skills and I told him his skills were more useful.

Wanda the cook was there and she made me another birthday cake, just like last year and at lunch time, they made me stand on a chair and everyone sang Happy Birthday. They had a huge banner hung on the wall especially for me. These are special people.

One of the students asked me why I would come all the way from Houston to teach archery on my Birthday. I simple said, "To teach archery to my favorite camp!"

After a round trip of 760 miles, I was tired but I still shot a field round in Houston.

That was what I did on my 55th birthday weekend.



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