Claycomb: Exotic hunts don’t require a trip out of America

Author: TOM CLAYCOMB Outdoors contributor

Tom Claycomb And Charles Allen With Tom's First Orbuck.
Tom Claycomb and Charles Allen with Tom’s first Orbuck.

In the past you might have read some NRA or Outdoor Life articles and dreamed of getting to hunt some exotic game. But if you’re raising a small family, it may be financially out of your reach. Or with the world’s situation, you might just be scared to travel worldwide and risk your life for a hunt.

Well, don’t despair. You can work out an exotic hunt right here in America. There are all manner of exotic hunts offered in Texas. I was reminded of this last week. Charles Allen, the owner of DiamondBlade Knives and Knives of Alaska, invited me to go on a Writer’s Hunt last week. The hunt was sponsored by DiamondBlade Knives, Savage Arms, Warthog Sharpeners, Zero Tech Optics and Federal Ammo. Each company invited a writer. We hunted on the Thumb Tack Ranch.

I met Tom Snyder, who runs the Thumb Tack Ranch, a few years ago at the DSC Show. In talking he became interested in the Scooters Youth Hunting Camp that we put on up in Emmett. His team flew up to observe the camp so they could go back to Texas and do likewise. Tom puts on nonstop hunts for kids, wounded warriors, etc. Trinity Oaks is a good organization.

We arrived about lunchtime on Monday. The sponsors set up tables to demonstrate their gear that we’d be using. Charles had well over 100 knives laid out and had us writers testing out some of his elite DB knives on our hunt. Savage laid out the rifles that we could hunt with. Two of them haven’t even been released yet, so I can’t mention them until late January. I hunted with their new Impulse Mountain Hunter 7mm PRC that had literally just been unveiled that day. It has a straight pull bolt which I’ve never used so I wasn’t proficient with it, but with a little practice you can operate it faster than a standard bolt.

I’d never heard of Zero Tech Optics but discovered that they had some nice optics, rivaling the big three. Then David demo’d how to use his Warthog Sharpeners that offer a pre-set angle. They’re nice. Then of course Federal discussed what ammo we’d be using. The ammo performed great. In fact, on the first three animals that I inspected the bullet stopped on the exit side right under the skin.

Enough with the gear! Now let’s talk about the hunting. Charles was my guide. He’s hunted all over the world, owned a lodge in Alaska, is a Master Brown Bear guide and the list goes on and on. On Tuesday morning, Charles, Trent (photographer) and I hunted together.

On some hunts it is good to have a buddy or guide with you because they can be giving you yardages, glassing and in this case helping me identify which animal we wanted. In this case I needed to shoot an Orbuck of a certain age, sex, etc. I’ve only been around them a few times before.

The ranch was concerned that their whitetail numbers were down, but gee, it seemed like there was a whitetail behind every bush. I’d love to see what they called a bumper year!

I need to jot down notes every night because after eight days of hunting, I always forget what happened when or where. I flew down Saturday and duck hunted, ran to San Antonio and stayed with a buddy of Charles, exotic hunted, duck hunted again Saturday morning and then flew home that night. It all got to be a blur.

If my memory serves me correctly, we were seeing a lot of whitetails and a few axis deer. Suddenly I saw an Orbuck way off in the brush, probably 400-500 yards off. Every time I’ve seen a group, they come out in a line like a string of pack mules.

They started slowly meandering toward us. They fed in close but were milling around and we had a hard time identifying a shooter. And if you did, he’d be in front of another animal. They spooked off but then eventually eased back toward us getting about 300 yards off.

Then suddenly we saw a stray buck (I want to call them a bull because they weigh 450 pounds). After a little glassing, Charles said the one on the right is a shooter. When he turns sideways and you have a clear shot, take him. If I remember correctly, there were two-three cows (I guess does) with him and one mesquite bush that kept getting in the way.

Eventually I had a clear shot. He didn’t run 25 yards and piled up. We ran down to check him out. Wow, what a beautiful animal. It was one of those “Wow, God, you outdid yourself when you designed this animal” moments.

In the course of the hunt, some axis bucks and another Orbuck were brought into camp. Now to test out some of the knives. A DiamondBlade Surge was used to skin two Orbucks and one axis deer. After all of that, I saw with my own eyes that it would still shave the hair off of your arm. Unbelievable.

Almost as unbelievable, I boned my Orbuck with the Knives of Alaska Professional Boning knife and it would also still shave.

Now to get a hog. Charles and his wife Jody and I then hog hunted. We saw everything in the world other than hogs. I’m glad that Jody was with us. She spotted everything before we did other than a small handful of animals that Charles and I saw first. She is a spotting machine.

We had a lot of filming to do, which sucked up every spare second. Trent filmed me using the KOA Professional Boning and Charles demonstrating some skinning secrets. I’ll let you know when they publish.

It was fun getting to watch Trent film. He works for a professional marketing company and is good. I always learn a lot when working around someone like him.

Well, it’d been a fun and productive week, but it was nice to get home to my wife and get to run over and hang out with my new granddaughter!

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