Friday, October 12, 2012


My friend Cowboy, who is a man of letters and a lawyer, is actually a cowboy by birth and upbringing. He owns multiple horses, which he keeps on a 15 acre plot adjacent to his 300 acre family ranch. His family raises or has raised chickens, goats, sheep, cattle and horses at various times. Right now there's probably 10 horses that are their personal horses, several hundred head of cattle that run their land and some amount of goats. Right now, the goat and chicken population has been decimated by hog, big ole' wild hogs.

One of Cowboy's brothers lives on the family place, and there are numerous travel trailers belonging to the other family members that they use when they visit, which is frequent. It's an expansive place and very well laid out by both nature and by his family. They also have multiple gardens and hayfields within their land.

His family place is in the area known as Central Texas, where the first anglo settlers to Texas in the 1800's first landed and established farms, ranches and towns. It's a beautiful spread, and it's got plenty of trees and nice pastures growing good grasses and lot of water in numerous tanks (also with fish). You can ride horses in large routes as well as motor cycles, ATV's, 4 wheel drive carts and even a good truck over much of the ranch. There's several different kinds of terrain, owing to it's location right where the rolling hills of Central Texas give way to a little higher elevation and a rockier environment where the hills are around 1000' and where there is still water in several spring fed rivers.

And of course, in many parts of Texas, this big ole' State of Texas, we have what we call deer infestation. A recent article in the Austin American Statesman said that the scientists at the state don't know if development is running deer into urban areas, or if it's lack of food in the areas with little development or what, but come near sundown in lots of parts of Texas, you have to really be careful driving with all the deer around. You go places as diverse as San Marcos and Alpine and near sundown,  DEER ARE EVERYWHERE! 

Where old friend Billy Ray lives, he's on the edge of a town in a new development that backs up to tens of thousands of acres of wilderness. He gets lots of deer feeding on his yard, which being the calm and mellow Billy Ray that he is, is glad that they're able to feed on his yard. Besides, little is left from the drought of 2011 and the semi-drought his area had this summer, and the deer are leaving the roots so it'll grow back over time.

Billy Ray has lots of vacant lots around him, and is literally at the edge of town. I haven't seen any signs of hogs in the 5 years he's lived there, but I suspect there are plenty of snakes, racoons, skunks, possums, armadillos, deer and bobcats within a mile radius of his house, and there would have to be hogs all up in that mix as well. Still, haven't seen anything  but deer in his area and no signs of other visitors from the wild.

But back to Cowboy. Although deer are plentiful on his families place, they're not the really BIG deer with HUGE racks that are in South Texas. He's had a lease down near Laredo for dang near 30 years with a couple of friends of his. It's a huge lease of several thousand acres, and it's rancher/owner lives down the road on another huge spread.

There are tons of deer, big deer with big racks, big rattlers, plentiful bobcats and an overabundance of hogs. At their camp, particularly near the end of the season, they kill hogs in large numbers, giving the buzzards, coyotes, wolves and other predators something to feed the food chain. And it doesn't matter because there are more of them every year.

It's not that far from Mexico, and several of the guys have cabins made from steel containers to keep safe from the unstoppable numbers of smugglers, the "bandits", those who pray on the illegal immigrants and the immigrants themselves making their way through the semi-arid desert like territory. Others who have travel trailers take them with them when they leave each time. A travel trailer would be stolen (highly likely) or at least totally ransacked if left unattended for more than a day.

Add to that those who live in rural areas these days, be they black or white or brown. Crack and meth are all over rural areas of Texas, and thefts at unattended weekend places and deer camps are quite common and meth or crack is often at the root of the situation.

Almost everything like water pumps and electric boxes are contained in steel boxes with concrete bases because everything not so secured will be damaged or stolen with the unstoppable tide of folks fleeing Mexico and points south. And those who prey upon them.

Cowboy carries a Glock Model 23 in .40 caliber with two extra mags when he's around camp. He had a fellow in a small Texas town that does custom leather work on both saddles, holsters, scabbards, chaps and the like make him a Wild Bunch rig but for  a Glock instead of a 1911.

It looks great and carries well, with a Ranger type buckle system and a matching underbelt. You can use belt keepers if you want but most people I know wearing rigs of that nature just wear them slung slightly down on the strong side hip.

So several months ago, Cowboy is by himself on a remote part of the lease where he has a feeder and feeder camera set up. The feeder is malfunctioning and he's fixing the electronics standing on a ladder leaning into the innards of the feeder mechanism.

Suddenly he hears footsteps behind him, several of them. He turns and gets ready to draw and it's a group of immigrants making their way through Texas. They ask for aqua and money. He's got no problem with giving them water but of course has a problem giving them money. And of course you don't know if this guy is harmless or not or a coyote or armed or what or a smuggler or what.

Most of the group was women but the men were sort of semi-circled around Cowboy up on the ladder. They didn't speak a bit of english nor does Cowboy speak anything but cuss words in spanish.

Cowboy motioned them to move on back and they did, toward his running diesel 4wd truck. He was able to get down off the ladder where he had been standing backwards facing the group. He gave them several jugs of water and they went on their way, albeit, eyeing his truck and asking him if he could give them a ride. He also had a Glock 21 with two extra mags in the console box of his truck as well as several rifles on the rear seat of the car, one a bolt action .308 custom rifle and the other some kind of (legally) suppressed piston M-4 high end  SBR.

When they first began hunting there in the 1980's, there was a wooden cabin they used. And soon it began to get broken into, for shelter, for whatever canned or bottled foodstuffs were around, and whatever beer was in the fridge. Pretty much everything would get stolen...glassware, food, dishes, blankets and sheets, dining ware and none of it was very good to begin with.

In the old days, they thought they were being nice by leaving the outside water faucet turned on with a hose attached for the inevitable trespassers thirsty from their trek. So even though the owner lives a few miles down the road, these folks creep through day and night in huge numbers, for hundreds of miles of border land.

So Cowboy said he was glad he had his Glock 23 instead of his six-shooter or any other number of handguns he could've had with him. 14 rounds plus another 26 on the belt. There was about ten guys in the group and yes, he felt threatened by the semi-circle stance they assumed and the way they approached.

Usually, he said, if folks want water, they whistle or shout from maybe 50-100 yards away to alert you of their presence and see what your reaction is. Cowboy felt these folks were sneaking up on him. He said they did stare at his gunbelt and rig.

He's got him some kind of custom knife sheath and custom knife on his rig. There's also a pouch for his rifle bullets when out hunting deer or bobcat or shooting hogs. It's a nice rig. I need to make myself one like it.

You gotta feel sorry for the current generation of border ranchers, not just those within the actual physical border region but also those in the path of the immigrants, and these lands span hundreds of miles across south and west Texas. They are, for the most part, harsh lands with no live water, lots of dangers such as snakes and other critters and all sorts of banditos and highwaymen and scammers waiting to take advantage of the immigrants, and of course these opportunists are the ones we should most fear.  And sometimes in these border lands, you can't even trust some of the lawmen.

Towns are few and far between in parts, although there are "communities" in some part between smalller towns.  So neighbors are scarce and families have been working this land for hundreds of years. Not all the farmers and ranchers are anglo, many former mexican citizen descendants have had this land in their family as long as it's been Texas or the U.S.

In any event, the deer are big down that way in Texas, and it's a shame that personal and physical hunting camp security have become the custom of the day.

Good luck, fellers! It truly is still the wild, wild west down where these fellers have their deer lease. But they've been hunting there a mighty long while and seem to have good results every year,  with both bow and gun.

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