A couple of donuts, a coffee, and a soda for later rode shotgun last Friday morning as I careened down two and a half hours of Texas highway to pick up Kelly Garmon. Kelly owns a company aptly named Hawglite, Inc. and had invited me to field test his new Marauder Hawglite; needless to say I was chompin’ at the bit to run it through the rigors of my nocturnal pursuits. Another three and a half hours of Highways and a couple of scenic byways, found us approaching the type of gate that in the past had always assured me they were way out of my league; let’s be honest, not much has changed in that regard.
A quick code offered and we were in. Two spotted fallows quickly made our acquaintance as we waited for the gate to close. The White House (as Katie Garmon calls it) stood majestically at the end of the drive and steadily grew to its mammoth size as we approached. We parked and began the introductions. Abel Montoya, my guide helped with me my garb as we walked toward, once again, a structure that typically meant no admittance to guys like me. He opened the door and we walked in. Every type of exotic game species mount greeted me as I stopped to take in the rustic, yet incredibly elegant charm of this 19th century plantation style home. Original hardwood floors, immaculately kept considering this was a hunting lodge, crept just a tad as I crossed the foyer and began my ascent to a private room they call “The Cave”; the name does not do the room justice as it was possibly the most inviting, comfortable room I have ever been a guest in. Typically I do not do well sleeping in cabins, hotels and the like, perhaps more to do being away from the wife. However, here I slept, and slept, and slept, no telling how many times I hit the snooze during my stay. The furniture was incredibly elegant yet the doors held original hardware, cracked paint, and patina that assured me the room had been home to over a century of weary souls without much of a change. Even better than the room was my private bathroom, yes folks I did say my own private bathroom.
After unpacking some gear I grabbed my bow and headed for the side-yard where I found Tish, Armando, and Brad slinging arrows at both broadhead and fieldpoint targets. After sighting in we headed to the dining room for dinner. I am accustomed to chili, burgers, beef jerky, whatever I can get my hands on and fit in a cooler, what welcomed my palate that first night was venison and quail shish kabobs, asparagus spears, corn, rolls, blackberry pie if I recall, and other delicacies that I fail to recollect at the moment. I half expected to get a bill after dinner; it never arrived. I asked Kelly to slap me to make sure I wasn’t dreaming this stuff up; I wasn’t. This was for real and I was smack dab in the middle of it! A quick scan of the bar turned internet café turned up numerous autographed pictures of notable celebrity hunters that frequent the ranch, Roger Raglin and Michael Waddell to name just a couple.
It was there that we created our game plan to test the Marauder and catch the footage on camera. Coach Williams, a Team Hawglite member, founder of “Hunting on a Budget” TV show, videography expert, nice guy and all around godsend for all of us there last weekend, drew out the plans (a script of sorts) to capture the best footage possible. Shortly after our meeting I ducked out to get dressed (It’s all about looking good in the woods, right?). Alright, maybe not, but I did need to put on the camo so that I at least looked the part. Abel and I scurried off in quite a hurry to our stand. Thirty yards from the stand I heard grunting. 10 yards from the stand had me standing with my jaw on the ground as over thirty hogs swept into the feeding area; this hunt was either going to be quick or go horribly wrong!
In subsequent blogs you’ll hear every heart-pounding detail about the two hogs I harvested during my stay. Did I get one on that hunt, pull a double the next day, or hold out until the last day? Keep checking in to find out.
What I can say is that all three days at Hacienda Ranch were as good as the first afternoon. I felt as if I was at a home, not out of my comfort zone. I never once felt as though I was playing way out of my league. Hunting with professional videographers was not intimidating, nor did I worry about making bad shots. The other guests, Kelly, Coach, their kids, and the staff, Brad and his wife, and my new friend Abel, the guide were constantly in tune with me and made me feel as though I did belong right where I was at. It was an amazing trip, one that is etched into the top shelf of my fondest memories. It was hard to leave, it was hard to drop Kelly Garmon off and continue the last two and a half hours alone up the darkened Texas highways and the sorted lonely byways heading home. It was hard, but I get to do it again sometime, perhaps in pursuit of one of those exotic trophies that I saw WAY too much of that kept me calculating all weekend. Perhaps, in the end, just to visit new friends.
If you are considering a weekend getaway that just might involve a bit of hunting, wildlife viewing, photography or videography, Hacienda truly is a prince of a place. I have never been to a place so inviting, so open, on comfortable in all my days of hunting outside of the comfort zone of family. Spend a couple days here and you’ll see what I mean. There’s no talking through the seat of my pants here. Go there! There’s a lifetime of memories waiting for you. You have my word on that.
In subsequent blogs you’ll also read about my experience with the new Marauder Hawglite, Hog Bomb, and my field comparison of Slick Trick, G-5 Montec, and Shuttle T-Lock Broadheads. Don’t miss them. They’re worth the read. I will give you a hint though, the Marauder Hawglite lights the path of incredible nighttime hunting action with incredible results!
Below find a few photos and some links.
May you and your arrows always have a spine,
Outdoor Writer and Photographer
Member - Professional Outdoor Media Association
MyArcheryHunt.com Field Staff
Valkyrie Pro Staff