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No Deer, But…

et’s get the kid a buck. That was the main topic of conversation last Friday morning as we drove up I-5 headed for the hills west of Williams, California. Myself, Joe Machado, and his 16 year-old grandson, Fidel Perez were headed for a ranch in the hills with high hopes. Fidel was looking to bag his first deer on Saturday when the season opened.

His eyes widened when I told him that in our circle, a hunter’s first buck meant that his head would be shoved deep into the opened, steaming carcass of the freshly-downed animal. Fidel looked somewhat apprehensively at his grandfather. “He’s just kidding,” Joe smiled.

The rancher greeted us when we arrived, and told us he’d seen two nice bucks the night before, so we were optimistic regarding our chances. It was around midday, and we decided to make the best of our spare time and do some fishing in one of the ponds on the ranch. We’d fished this particular pond before and experienced good luck with bluegills and largemouth bass. The rancher had hooked a large catfish recently as well.

We rigged up with small spinners and flies for bluegills at first, and as all fishermen know, you never know quite what to expect. Right off the bat, Joe tied into a very respectable bass using his micro spinning rod, which was bent nearly double as he played the sizeable bass. He managed to keep it out of the weeds and bring it to shore.

fishing, bass fishing, No Deer, But…, Don Webster, my outdoor buddy, myoutdoor buddy,, , williams, joe Machado, Fidel Perez
Bass fishing with Joe and Fidel.

We caught and released a very large number of bluegills, and as the sun began to dip low on the horizon, we set our sights on catching some bass. Joe and Fidel fished along the shoreline using spinners, and I took my float tube out near the center of the pond and put a Carolina rig into action. I wondered a little about the ominous clouds and thunder pounding away to the north.

By the time the sun was dipping below the crest of the hills, we’d hooked many bass, and landed 13 fish of decent size, the largest approaching three pounds.

I had a huge bass hooked that I couldn’t stop, even after tightening my drag considerably, and it broke me off after its second, surging run. Needless to say, my cries of despair echoed and reverberated off the hills for miles around.

The pond is fed by natural springs, and the fish are exceptional table fare, so we kept some to filet and put in the cooler.

We drove into Williams, ate a nice meal at Granzella’s, went to our hotel room, and collapsed into bed.

O-Dark-Thirty found us pulling into the rancher’s driveway. He was there to greet us, and we piled into his crewcab 4x4 and headed out at first light.

No Deer, But…, Don Webster, my outdoor buddy, myoutdoor buddy,, hunting, california hunting, buck shooting, squirrel hunting, hunting squirrels, williams, califronia, joe Machado, Fidel Perez
Teacher and pupil zero in on the target.

It turned out to be quite a morning. We saw wild turkeys. We saw a coyote. We saw quail. We saw numerous wild pigs. Deer? We saw nary a single animal.

That is the way of hunting. You just never know. Fidel is already looking forward to his next hunting trip. It’s only a matter of time before his luck changes.

Nevertheless, our spirits were not dampened by this turn of bad luck. The day before, the rancher’s wife had complained quite vociferously about the confounded pack of ground squirrels that had been raiding her chicken coop and stealing her hen’s eggs. “Hey,” Joe said, “I think that me and my grandson might be able to help you with that problem.”

Taking a bite out of the varmint population.

And help solve the lady’s problem they did.

We drove out a safe distance from the ranch house, and Joe and Fidel unpacked two .17 HMR’s, and proceeded to put a considerable dent in the local, ground squirrel population. That pair of shooters can really shoot. I stopped counting expired squirrels somewhere around 150. By my conservative estimation, that left a scant 300-400 remaining squirrels for the ranch lady to worry about. And we made several turkey vultures very happy. We drove home Saturday evening tired, in need of a hot shower, filled with that special satisfaction that an adventure into the outdoors with good friends always provides.

Don E. Webster has been engaged in a wide variety of outdoor pursuits for over 60 years. His recently published book, Bury Me In My Waders-An Old Duck Hunter Recalls His Fowl Past, currently ranks among the most popular, best-selling duck hunting books on Amazon Books and Amazon Kindle. His next book, a selection of his columns from MyOutdoorBuddy.Com, entitled Bears, Beer, Trout Tacos, Etc" will be published in mid-summer. Don's website is


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