A few days before the New Year's weekend, I got a frantic call from one of my contractors. He had booked a hunting trip for another client at the CF Ranch (http://www.cfranch.com/) outside of Alpine, Texas, three days with guides looking for trophy deer. The client had cancelled, and he was trying to find someone else to go so that he could still write it off on his expense account. And he was so nice about it: "Hey, you're always bitching that we never invite women to the hunting or fishing trips, so here's your chance."
It's not like I had anything else to do that weekend, but it was a long trip. And cold. I suggested that it would be difficult for me to go, since I'd have to face Dad's jealousy. So Jeff invited my dad. So how could I refuse? I called Dad up and told him to be packed and loaded by 3:00 p.m. the next day. Jeff picked me up at the airport, and we stopped to pick up Dad and headed to Alpine.
The ranch, nestled in the foothills of the Davis Mountains in Texas' Big Bend Country, was beautiful and wild. The ranch hands were friendly, polite, skilled, and good cooks. This is a working ranch that also manages a trophy herd, the Reata professional polo team, and serves as a backdrop for movies and commercials. The mess hall was lined with photos of regular visitors: Tom Selleck, Richard Farnsworth, rodeo champs I didn't recognize. We spent the first day bumping around in an ancient Suburban while the guides drove us to areas where the mule deer are frequently spotted, usually straight up the side of a mountain. We saw many deer, but they were usually too far away for a good shot, or the guides determined that they were not large enough to be considered 'trophy' and therefore did not allow shots. I was not interested in bagging a deer, but I enjoyed the beautiful scenery, and spending a day with my Dad.
The next day, at the lunch break, I announced that I was tired of bouncing and sitting, and wanted to spend the afternoon at the ranch headquarters. I spent an hour sitting inside a pick-up truck about 10 yards away from two dozen deer who came into the camp area to feed on the stored cotton seed, watching the rutting bucks fight until it was too dark for me to see. At suppertime, the menfolk arrived. Dad had shot a deer. I didn't realize that this was the first deer he had actually shot since we had lived in Montana in the mid-60s. His grin, which spread all the around his head, was infectious. We spent a few hours the next day, since Jeff was anxious to get his 10-pointer, but ended up heading back in time for me to catch a flight and be home in time for dinner.
A best friend said: "I guess you look cute, in a redneck sort of way." But my youngest son and my grizzled brother were both very impressed, as were many of the men I work with. I guess I'm even more 'one of the guys' now. One of my JREF forum friends wrote: "Brains, good looks, and can carry a gun. The only question left - can you drive a stick shift?" So of course I had to send him a photo of my Honda S2000 6-speed roadster.