Three years ago an invitation to visit the Yamaha Whitetail Diaries camp in southwest Texas resulted in my first ever hunting experience and a freezer full of organic goodness. It is an experience I wrote about here and one I think back on often. As luck would have it, I was invited back again this year and didn’t hesitate to accept.
A lot has changed in the three years between these experiences. I was still fairly new to archery at the time of my first hunt, but I’ve now got 4.5 years of archery experience under my belt. And this doesn’t mean a rare trip to the range to practice. I shoot 300 to 400 arrows every week and am now in charge of bow reviews for the ArcheryTalk YouTube channel.
I’ve also got more hunting experience under my belt, though I’d still call myself a relative novice. I’ve taken down a pig on a night hunt in Texas, but have been shut out otherwise on my hunting adventures.
Things, however, are different in Texas. The Yamaha Whitetail Diaries crew operates out of two leases – one is about 1,500 acres and the other is more than 12,000 acres. Despite the fact that this isn’t a high fence operation, the properties are well managed, hunted carefully and loaded with wildlife.
I arrived at the ranch after a long day of travel, but still with a couple hours of daylight left. After dropping my bags off in my room, I unpacked my Hoyt Carbon Defiant and hit the practice range to get loose and make sure the not-so-loving hands of the TSA hadn’t knocked anything loose on my bow.
For anybody curious, I set up the Hoyt Carbon Defiant with a QAD HDX drop away arrow rest, Trophy Ridge React H5 sight, ¼-inch peep, and a Bee Stinger Counter Slide stabilizer. My arrow of choice was a Gold Tip Kinetic Kaos tipped with a QAD Exodus fixed blade broadhead. This is a fairly heavy arrow at about 464 grains, but I was willing to sacrifice a bit of speed for the improved penetration the extra weight provides.
I had this setup tuned as well as I possibly could and my broadheads were flying exactly the same as my field points. With the hard work of set up and tuning done, I just needed to worry about making a good shot when it counted.
The following morning, the other two hunters and I loaded up and prepared to make our way to various stands across the property. There were a number of Yamaha ATVs and UTVs on hand, including the new Wolverine X4, which you can read about here. Wade Middleton, who hosts the Yamaha Whitetail Diaries, was my guide for the day and we headed out in a Yamaha Viking VI Ranch Edition.
Wade led us to a spot known as the Killing Tree – a favorite of his. I’d heard about this…