Borger News-Herald

James Lockhart: The Old Ways

Last year my dad and I went hunting a couple of times near the Haw Creek community in southern LeFlore county. The Ouachita National Forest surrounds Haw Creek, it’s almost all public land.

The first time we went hunting last year was during muzzleloader season. Dad became lost before we even made it to the main road. We’ve hunted that area for thirty years, it really worried me that he didn’t know where we were. The second time we hunted around Haw Creek was during rifle season. I shot at a decent sized buck that day. After I missed the buck dad practiced with an old bolt action 30-30 that used to be my grandpas. At eighty-one years old he outshot me with open sights.

This year I hunted the same spot and looked for that buck during muzzleloader season. I never seen a deer. Sunday, the second day of rifle season I hunted that spot again. It was a beautiful morning. I saw two does driving in to I where I missed the buck last year. As I was putting my gear on I gazed at the root ball where dad sat the pop can and shot the 30-30. I felt kind of sad that he’s not able to hunt this year. I slipped down an old logging road to where I shot at the buck last year. I sat next to a big pine tree and stayed still until the morning breeze had me shivering. I made my way back to the truck and thought about going home, but I got to looking at the way the ridges laid and I decided I would do a little exploring. I’d never really walked this spot out, so I thought I’d warm myself up by walking and trying to hunt. I’m not as good at slipping around quietly as I used to be, and my eyes aren’t that good anymore either. So my chances of slipping up on a public land whitetail buck are slim to none.

It took about an hour, but I finally found where two ridges came together in the woods. I found a spot where

I could see over a hundred yards through the pine and oak timber. Once again I sat beside a big pine tree.

As soon as I sat down I used my grunt call. I tried to blow it softly in case a deer was nearby, hopefully the softer tone wouldn’t spook any away. I waited a few minutes, and this time I called a little louder. I’d been sitting maybe ten minutes when I called the second time. Almost immediately I spotted a deer moving through the timber. I used my scope and discovered it was a good sized buck. He was coming in to my call, with his head kind of bowed down and his ears pinned back. He was looking to fight the buck that was doing the grunting (which was me).

At about seventy five yards the buck stopped broadside to me. I squeezed and when the gun went off I knew I hit him hard. The impact of the bullet caused the buck to turn and run straight at me. I chambered another round and waited on a clear shot. Finally he stopped and I aimed at the widest part of the neck, he dropped in his tracks when the bullet hit.

I walked out to have a look at the buck I’d just harvested. He was a really big eight pointer. I couldn’t help but wish my dad was with me. The rifle I used was my grandpa’s old Stevens bolt action 3006. I’ve got other, newer and more expensive rifles, but I like carrying my grandpas old rifle. It shoots really good, it’s been glass bedded and has a custom Timney trigger. My grandpa qualified expert with every weapon in his infantry division in World War II. He could shoot and he liked bolt action rifles. I was all alone, so it was up to me to drag the buck back to the truck. As best I could figure I was a mile from where I parked, but it was almost all downhill and fairly easy walking. I had kind of planned that as I hunted, I’m a little old to be dragging deer up out of canyons or over large ridges.

It took a good hour, but I finally drug the buck to the end of the forest service road and loaded it onto my flatbed truck. When I got home I used a knife that had been my grandpa Lockhart’s, he died long before I was born. Dad always talked about that knife and all the critters it skinned during the Great


It’s been about ten years since I killed a good sized buck. I’m particularly proud of this one. I didn’t use a trail camera, corn or minerals. I haven’t even put up a tree stand this year, I’ve just been to busy. The older I get the more I want to hang on to the old ways of hunting. The way my father and grandfather hunted, they never hunted over bait or used trail cameras. They never used a tree stand. I can remember my grandpa hunting in a red and black flannel coat when I was a kid. Back then if someone in our group saw a good buck we all thought we’d done good.

This deer season, it was more about carrying on our family tradition than it’s ever been. It’s just me and my kids now since my dad’s not able to hunt anymore. I sure missed riding around with him looking the woods over. I could almost smell the coffee from his thermos as I drove home with that buck, it was a good day.

James Lockhart lives near the Kiamichi mountains in southeast Oklahoma. He writes cowboy stories and fools with cows and horses.

Farm & Ranch




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