Catch up on Ron’s adventures by reading his first dispatch from Texas.

 

The second morning of our adventure found us at a farm a couple of miles south of Quitaque, Texas. This well-groomed parcel of ground is a labor of love for its owner, Tracy Taylor. The nearly 900-acre spread of diverse West Texas landscape is home to a thriving whitetail and mule deer population and provides rich habitat for quail, doves, and turkeys.

Jeremy and I had been invited to hunt with Tracy just a few days before my arrival in Texas. What we found here was one of the best-managed properties I’ve ever been privileged to visit. Tracy has created a thriving environment that, while not fenced, holds a great variety of game. His feeding program for deer and well-studied development of cover and feed for the birds make this well-rounded property a hunter’s paradise.

The hunting would have been enough for most folks, but not for Tracy. He had a higher purpose in the untold hours and expense he’d plowed into this land.

Tracy and his wife, Kim, founded LifeTree Legacies in 2014. Based in Amarillo, this multi-faceted ministry is aimed squarely at the local teens. Featuring a complete gymnasium, weight and conditioning equipment, and a 30,000-square-foot indoor riding arena, this unique facility seeks to round out youngsters, both physically and spiritually. LifeTree employs a full-time teacher/mentor, a facilities director, and strength and conditioning coaches. The involvement of several local churches and schools keeps a steady flow of teens streaming in to hone their physical abilities and to learn life lessons and values not always found in their everyday environment.

Back to the farm: Tracy and his family take great joy in hosting many of the same teens and their parents at the farm. With camping, hiking the many trails, fishing the well-stocked ponds, and, in some cases, experiencing their first hunt, these teens are getting a taste of what many of them would never see otherwise. Tracy and his family are making an investment in young lives that will pay dividends for years to come.

Our hunt at the farm was everything I could’ve asked for. The morning broke clear and cold. With my bow in hand, I sat in a box blind as deer, quail, doves, and the ever-present hogs came to the feeder. Nothing big enough to shoot, but still thrilling to watch.

The evening had me in the same blind near a duck-filled pond. A muley doe was the first to show up. She drank from the pond and wandered over my way—a good sign. Not long after, from behind some juniper trees, came the biggest whitetail buck I’d ever seen! He came in around the feeder, paused at 25 yards, and looked right at me in the blind. This went on for several very tense moments.

As he faced me, I had no ethical shot and couldn’t move for fear of being busted. Finally, he simply turned and walked back into the brush where he’d come from. The buck was wide and tall, easily the biggest I’d ever seen, and I hadn’t got a shot. Jeremy got two hogs on the evening hunt, though, so we didn’t leave empty-handed. As I said, this hunt was everything I could’ve asked for.

After all, hunting has to be more than just pulling the trigger or launching an arrow. The opportunity to hunt this magnificent property with my dear friend Jeremy and my newfound friend Tracy was reward enough. I’ll cherish this memory for years to come. And this was only my second day of hunting in West Texas!

To find out more about the Taylors’ unique ministry, go to lifetreelegacies.com.

 

Photo: twildlife/iStock

 

 

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