January 17, 2014
By Hunter Overstreet, Special to OutdoorChannel.com
Hunter Overstreet is a 20-year old college student from Bryant, Arkansas. This is his account of his Texas deer hunt, a Christmas gift from his father James Overstreet.
“Hunter, man get up, it’s time to go!” Those are the words I woke up to as my dad turned on my light. I looked at the clock: 3 a.m. Ordinarily my next move would be to turn over and go right back to sleep. This situation called for a different response. I jumped right out of bed after having only 3 hours of sleep.The only thought running through my head at the time was, “My Christmas present is finally here.” No more waiting. This is it. It was a hunting trip to Texas with my dad, a present that turned out to be one that I will never forget.
Click image to see Hunter's Christmas Buck hunt
There's always that feeling I have when I cross a state line, the feeling I'm in some foreign place. There’s something that's just a little different than the place that I was raised. You would think that there wouldn't be much of a change from Arkansas to Texas, but that's not that case when you venture south of San Antonio and only 20 minutes north of the Mexican border.
A small sense of culture shock began to take place the farther southwest we traveled. Winter became a little more bearable as the Texas sun radiated on the unfamiliar cacti and mesquite trees. The uninhabited land got larger, the small towns got smaller. It felt as if we were separating ourselves from the world, a feeling that was much needed.
Finally, we arrived at the camp. We drove 750 miles and we weren't finished for the day. There was no time to waste. It was prime evening time and the deer definitely weren't sleeping, so neither were we. Within an hour of arriving, we were sitting in a stand. It was watching time. I needed to get that rush of adrenaline you get when you first see a deer poke its head out of the woods, the rush that makes you realize why you go to the extremes to sit and stare at nothing for hours, sometimes days.After awhile the first doe slipped into the open with a yearling following closely behind. A familiar feeling washed over me as I watched them peacefully feed, one that cannot be solely explained with words. No, it wasn’t the adrenaline rush. That had already passed … this feeling was even better.
In that moment, it was as if I was reconnecting with the nature around me. I started picking apart the minute details of the environment, finding beauty in the details. This is a skill my dad taught me well. He taught me that hunting isn’t just about the kill, it’s about personally experiencing God’s creation and realizing that there is beauty in everything. You just have to know where to look, and south Texas was bringing me back there.
The next day everyone else arrived. Most of them were strangers to me, but for some reason they immediately felt like close friends. They were people like me who love hunting every bit as much as I do, not to mention the great degree of hospitality they offered. The day was spent hunting, touring the miles of land, eating too much, laughing by a bonfire, and adding to a growing list of memories.
In a single day I probably saw more deer than I have in the last 5 or 10 years. The deer ranged from yearling deer to “Oh my God,” because that’s what we said when we saw him. But none of them included the deer. I went to Texas with the mindset that I would be leaving with a trophy to take home. After a couple of days in a stand, the thought began to fade away, replaced with uncertainty. Would there even be a deer? Time was running out and I only had one day left.
More hunting, more chasing, more blood in my eyes. The pressure was on and I was getting anxious. On that last Saturday morning I knew I had to get a deer. I made it to the stand and soon realized that the weather wasn’t going to go my way. The temperature was dropping and the wind was howling. As the sun began to rise I spotted a storm front bearing down on us in the distance.
I’ve had my share of hunting in the rain, so I wasn’t too concerned. Then the sky lit up with lightning, a part of nature I choose not to mess with. The morning ended early, another return to camp without a deer. The rest of the day crept by as I thought about the evening hunt that would ultimately decide the outcome of my Texas deer hunt.
Click image for photos of deer seen during the Texas trophy hunt
All too quickly my last evening of hunting had arrived. I was watching a group of three or four does that had appeared shortly after we got to the stand. I turned around to look behind me and saw two more deer step out of the brush. I sighed as I quickly realized neither of them had horns. The does grazed and loafed for what seemed like hours, having no idea they were being watched and unintentionally teasing me as daylight got shorter.
Suddenly, “Oh my God” stepped into the opening. I had seen him one other time during the trip. He was probably the biggest deer I will ever lay eyes on. He stood there for a while in all his glory, his massive rack lit from the evening sun. I knew I couldn’t shoot him because he was too young and had a lot of room to grow into something incredibly special, not that he needed to.
I was content with that. Just being able to watch him one last time before the trip ended was enough for me, even if it meant leaving without a deer. We watched him until the sun started to lower and the light begin to dim. The hunt was minutes away from being over and my dad was getting one last picture when he stepped out.
He was the deer that I was unknowingly waiting for. It was a perfect deer, one that is hard to come by where I come from. He stood tall and broad with a rack that was about as symmetrical as it gets. I took my time because I knew I couldn’t blow it. I slowly lifted my gun and waited until he was completely broadside, then I took the shot.
Many things happened in the few minutes after that: yelling, laughing, high-fives, hugs, posing for endless pictures. All of those things have happened after each deer I’ve killed, but perhaps the most important repeated action was one that we had no control over: the bond between father and son.
We’ve shared many memories like this together, dad and I … but that split-second moment of looking at the smile spreading across his face as we gave the traditional high-five might just be the most cherished. I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present. In the end it wasn’t about bringing home a trophy to mount on the wall. It was about spending time with my dad and doing what we do … hunting.
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