An East Texas Deer Camp

Three friends of mine, Jeff Neitzel, Dan Berry and Jeff Berry, all of the New Lisbon area, and myself recently were guests at Deadwood Hunting Camp.

Our goal was to hunt feral pigs. Our memories will more than likely be of what we learned about the landscape, people and their style of hunting whitetail deer.

Saturday, Feb. 5

High 45, low 16

I feel it is important to say that the four of us were not at a hunting camp that was open to the public or that we had to pay for our hunt. Jeff Neitzel, had been invited by a friend, Merlin Kemp, (who lives at Van, Texas) to come down for a hog hunt and that is what we did.

When we arrived at Deadwood, which is located in heavily forested Anderson County we were exhausted due a 25-hour drive in the worst road conditions that I have ever witnessed. The pipes or water pump had frozen and broke in several cabins and the hogs proved to be very skittish and possibly wearing invisible cloaks.

William Hart has a lease at this camp and is Kemp’s boss. I spent the final hour of hour drive in Hart’s truck, made a good friend and learned a ton about the area.

For the most part, the 25 members of Deadwood have no desire to bring a feral pig back to camp.

William and Merlin each shot one on the first night. The following morning, the Wisconsin boys and Kemp trailed and found two of them. There was an inch of snow on the ground and the hogs had gone into the thickest and tallest thorns I have ever seen.

In the end, both hogs were recovered and the meat was incredible. The two feral pigs weighed 60 and 80 pounds dressed and I wish I would have bought a half dozen home, as the meat was delicious.

Mike Thomas is the founder and manager of Deadwood and is an ambitious and intelligent man. When Thomas signed the 10-year lease on this 5,500-acre, unfenced property, he contacted a friend who has a lease in south Texas where the genetics (antlers) are much larger.

After obtaining permission, Thomas headed down to south Texas with a chopper and a work crew and captured 100 adult doe by using a net that was loaded into a 308 and fired by a sharpshooter in the chopper.

Each doe was tagged and released at Deadwood. A $1,000 fine was put on any tagged doe that was harvested by a member of Deadwood.

In my mind, I envisioned Texas as being laid out with dense mesquite and open fields. East Texas was made up of a rolling topography and extremely dense, red and jack pine forests with a scattering of oak trees.

Mike did an excellent job of filming the capture and release of the doe on video camera. Another story that I found very interesting was the filming of a hunt by dogs in which he killed a large boar with a spear and also filmed that experience.

I used to live in Louisiana and have a brother that still does. Much of the deer hunting that takes place in the south is done off a lease, which is basically a club, with rules and dues. Here in Wisconsin we have ample public land and I believe sometimes we take that for granted.

I also have been learning a lot about the destruction caused by feral pigs and their exploding population as well as northward migration.

It only takes about three months for a domestic pig to completely revert to becoming a wild animal. The intelligence of a feral pig, combined with the ability to have 2.5 litters per year, makes them extremely difficult to eradicate.

Without hunters, who are the best game managers on earth and who put out the cash to keep local economies going in a variety of ways, the feral pig would be as common as the raccoon, rabbit and whitetail deer – only much more destructive.

I was impressed with Texas!


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