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A cure for the wintertime blues

If you’re like me, you find yourself in a bit of a hunting lull during the last part of winter through the beginning of spring. For a lot of people this is usually a time for recharging the batteries after the fall hunting season, then gearing up for turkey season. For some people those few weeks, or even months, are too much to bear and they start itching to squeeze the trigger or release an arrow on an animal. The remedy I have found for such a situation is predator hunting, and one of the best places to get your predator-hunting fix is in South Texas.

The Arrangements: I met Leonard Gonzalez (TX) of LG Hunting Service in Las Vegas at the 2014 Safari Club International convention. It was easy to see he had a deep passion for hunting and an even deeper passion for having fun. His entertaining stories of calling in big Texas bobcats, coupled with the dozen or so trophy photos he showed me really got my gears to turning. Leonard must be a heck of a salesman because I bought in hook, line and sinker.

We set up some dates for a quick two and a half day hunt during the third weekend in March. I flew from Birmingham, Alabama to San Antonio, Texas where Leonard met me at the airport. From there we drove south to the Rancho Catalina just north of Laredo, Texas. Ignore what you hear in the media about Laredo. You are nowhere near any of that craziness while on this hunt. Rancho Catalina is a beautiful, quintessential South Texas ranch surrounded by scrub brush that, to the untrained eye, looks as if it would only hold a few cottontail rabbits and maybe the occasional coyote. I’ve hunted this part of the world before so I was more than aware that there was a vast amount of game literally all around us.

Where to Toss the Bags: When we arrived at the 8,000+- square foot, three-story lodge, the quantity and quality of game was even more evident from the deer heads and predator skins on display, all of which came from the surrounding property. After drooling over the 160”-190” whitetails on the wall for a few moments I turned my attention to he rest of the ranch house. Just look at the photos because my words won’t do it justice. It was by far the nicest place I have ever stayed at while on a hunt… or maybe ever, for that matter! This is most definitely a hunt you could bring your family on and they would be comfortable.

The Grub: This will be short and sweet. Don’t worry about going hungry on this hunt. I ate enough crawfish, steak, salsa and bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers to kill a normal man! It was delicious.

The Hunt: The main objective for this trip was to kill some predators, specifically a big bobcat still in its winter coat, and maybe a javelina if the opportunity presented itself. We rode around the ranch for a few hours on the first afternoon, checking the numerous feeders on the property. We glassed lanes and called a few spots without much action. After dark we hunted hard until about 2:00 a.m., only seeing three coyotes that winded us before I could get the gun on them. Apparently the bright moon and wind had everything locked down and not many animals were out moving. Leonard is an excellent predator caller and very experienced in calling everything from foxes to Alaska brown bears; my confidence in him never waivered.

The next morning we were up and out the door by 7:00, in search of javelina. There are hundreds on this ranch and Leonard encourages hunters to take a couple. It was considerably warmer this day and was going to reach 95 degrees, which is pretty common in south Texas during the spring. I had my bow this time and right out of the gate we spotted a lone boar waddling its way down the road. We made a stalk on it but the closest we could get was about 80 yards. I took a shot but the arrow fell just short and skipped on the ground right underneath its belly. (Disclaimer: Don’t send me any emails about how I shouldn’t be taking shots like that. I practice out to 120 yards at home and am confident with my ability and equipment at that distance. I simply missed. Just because you can’t doesn’t mean someone else can’t either.)

We checked another feeder and found a lone javelina feeding on the corn. The wind was right so Leonard and I made another stalk, getting to within 35 yards. Unfortunately there was some heavy gauged hog wire (ironically) around the feeder to keep the cows away and I didn’t have a clean shot, so we let the boar go. It eventually winded us and ran out a small gap in the wire.

We called for predators a few more times during the day with about the same results as before. Leonard was getting worried because he is 100% on cats and can kill coyotes in his sleep… so far we were striking out on both. I was still having fun!

Things took a serious turn for the better that evening as far as killing goes. 90 seconds into our first sit on a new piece of property, Leonard called in three coyotes, one of which hit the dirt while the other two escaped with no injuries. On about sit number four and well into the night a big sow pig showed up in the red beam of the spotlight and shared the same fate as the first coyote from earlier in the hunt.

It was now getting late and we were tired. Still, Leonard never missed a beat and kept calling. I was very impressed with his diligence and drive to kill a cat. He was not going to allow me to tarnish his perfect cat hunting record! It was about 12:30 a.m. as we pulled the high-rack truck up on a pond dam. Leonard was calling as we shone the red spotlights in each direction, hoping to catch a pair of eyes sneaking in on us. After about 15 minutes I felt a tap on my shoulder and heard the whisper of “There’s a cat”. Just what we had been waiting on! Ol’ spots finally decided to make an appearance. I quickly found the big cat in the scope directly across the pond. When Leonard “mouse squeaked” the cat stopped and sat on its haunches about 120 yards away. The cross hairs found their mark and I squeezed the trigger. A loud boom replaced the sound of a distressed rodent, which was then replaced by Leonard and I whisper-cheering. You know what I’m talking about. The cheer you give when you know you are still hunting but you’re way too excited to be quiet. Leonard’s perfect cat hunting record was still intact, and I had my monster Texas bobcat. The pressure was finally off.

If you are interested in beating the late winter/early spring hunting lull, do yourself a favor and call Leonard Gonzalez of LG Hunting Service. Head down south to some warm weather and relax on a fun hunt with a great group of people. He’s got huge deer, scores of javelina as well as predators. If you time it just right you can even squeeze in a Rio Grande turkey hunt too. I would highly recommend this outfit to any of our members.

Contact Info:
Leonard Gonzalez
(210) 508-1875

Until next time,
Cameron Mitchell