OPINION — About twenty years ago some friends and I managed to draw tags for a whitetail bowhunt at Walter Buck Wildlife Management Area, about five miles from Junction, Texas. There are some nice deer in the park, and I was hoping to stumble across a trophy buck that was both deaf and blind, which might give me a slight chance of taking him home. Joel Draper, Donnie Gierisch, Elvis Martin, and I planned to camp at South Llano River State Park, next to the WMA, for the three days of the hunt. It was a perfect plan, except for finding my deaf/blind buck, but we arrived at the park with high hopes.
The first person we ran into at the park was Zeo Weinheimer, owner and proprietor of Zeo’s Sporting Goods in Fredericksburg, famous in song and story. Zeo was also there for the bowhunt, along with one of the Holman twins, either Lonnie or Donnie. I can’t remember which one, but it doesn’t matter, since I could never tell them apart, anyway. Zeo and Lonnie, or maybe Donnie, had been at the park for about ten minutes, and were already in trouble.
The story was far more enjoyable coming from Zeo, with his thick German/American accent. He said that when he and Lonnie/Donnie had arrived at park headquarters, a squirrel had run behind the ice machine on the porch. Lonnie/Donnie had told Zeo to go to one side of the ice machine and scare the squirrel out, so Lonnie/Donnie could try to catch it. If this seems like the dumbest idea two grown men could possible come up with, that’s because it is. But Lonnie/Donnie managed to talk Zeo into it anyway.
So Zeo, who was about seventy years old at the time, waited until Lonnie/Donnie, who was about thirty, got into position, and then he stomped on the wooden porch floor and clapped his hands a couple of times. The squirrel didn’t come out, but a small, angry park ranger type woman emerged from the office door and started chewing Zeo out like a Marine drill instructor, for harassing her pet squirrel. Lonnie/Donnie, meanwhile, immediately went into an academy award-winning impression of a guy who had been minding his own business all along, and had no idea why the crazy old German fellow was being so rude to a harmless squirrel. The hunt was off to an inauspicious start.
It went downhill from there, although we did come home with a few other good stories. My best tale was about waiting for a goat to come out from behind some brush so I could try to skewer it with an arrow, but the goat must’ve taken the wrong trail, and it never showed up. So that was pretty boring, especially since it was about a goat, instead of a deer. I take what I can get.
Above: A goat.
The goat thing was fun, though, because there were a lot of them at Walter Buck WMA, and the TPW folks wanted to get rid of them. Goats will eat just about anything that doesn’t eat them first, and the Walter Buck goats were pretty much destroying the habitat. We were told on arrival that feelings would be hurt if we didn’t try to stick every goat we saw. The problem was that the goats were wilder than the deer, and smelled a lot worse. Goats are like that.
Walter Buck was also home to a lot of turkeys, which we were not allowed, under any certain circumstances, to shoot at, and a respectable number of javalinas, which we could shoot, one each, provided we had tags, which we all did. Which is how Zeo came up with the best story of the trip, unless you count the squirrel story, which I do.
The second evening of the hunt, as we were comparing our various episodes of failure, Zeo informed us that he had seen something black, about 200 yards off, but he couldn’t figure out what it was. He stared at it for a while and decided it was a black goat, and inasmuch as he’d never arrowed a goat before, he determined to sneak up on it with intrepid stealth.
So he began to stalk and watch, and about halfway there he realized it wasn’t a goat, it was a javalina. Even better. But fifty yards closer and Zeo realized it wasn’t a javalina. It was a buzzard. He watched it for a while through his binoculars, and even did a pantomime for us, of how the buzzard would shuffle back and forth, first holding one wing out to the side, then the other wing, and sometimes both wings at once. He had us all slapping ourselves. But since the buzzard was acting so strangely, Zeo figured he’d sneak on over there and see what it was doing.
Above: A buzzard
When he got within about thirty yards, he finally realized the thing was not a buzzard, either. It was a black trash bag, hung up on a catclaw bush, softly undulating in the breeze. Zeo said, “I never was so mad at a trash bag in my life.”
None of us ever killed anything at Walter Buck, so the deer are still there, if you’re interested, but a word of advice. Leave the squirrels alone, and pick up your trash. And your trash bags . . .
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