Back in August, this column featured the Texas Brigades, a program focused on teaching Texas teenagers the skills and knowledge to become successful leaders in the outdoor sports.
The story chronicled the participation of a brother and sister from Lorena — Cole and Morgan Payne — and their rise from campers to leaders.
While at one of the camps this summer, Morgan and her crew won the “top herd” honors by earning the most points from activities held during the camp. One of the things they won for this accomplishment was a doe hunt which they recently cashed in on at the Clear Fork Ranch on the Brazos.
“It has always been a dream of mine to be able to harvest my first deer with my dad, and thanks to the hospitality of the ranch management, my dad got to be with me when I shot my doe,” Morgan said.
Her dad Gary was just as proud and excited.
“I’m thankful that both Morgan and Cole learned to and enjoy hunting and fishing and maybe spend a little time with their dad along the way,” he said.
He also knows the value of keeping traditions alive.
“I was lucky enough to take my first deer sitting on my grandfather’s knee in Kerrville when I was 7 years old,” he said. “That is one of my fondest memories and one that I’ll cherish forever, and not a season goes by without thinking about that hunt.”
Morgan is no newcomer to the outdoors or hunting, and she came prepared and handled the situation like a seasoned deer hunter. “The first afternoon when we arrived, I quickly sighted in my .22-250 rifle and soon after, my guide, my dad and I headed out to look for a doe to shoot,” she said.
The 60,000-acre ranch was an awesome sight. Morgan said from where they started they could look as far as their eyes could see and not see the other side. But the good part hadn’t come.
“I was the first one to spot the doe,” she said. “I pointed her out to the guide and my dad, but there was brush in the way so we quietly moved to where I had a clear shot. She was standing about 65 yards away, so I knew my rifle was be right on target.”
This is when her training and preparation paid off. “I set my sights on the doe and eased the safety off, took a deep breath, and pulled the trigger. I knew I had made a good shot and watched the doe dart off. My dad kept a close eye on which direction she ran and we started tracking her,” she said.
As they began following the trail, Morgan’s adrenaline cranked into high gear.