Babette and I arrived in Austin just in the nick of time for Thanksgiving. During the last portion of our trip I continued to quote the great John Hughes film Plans, Trains, & Automobiles as it seemed fitting. We had been invited to spend Thanksgiving with my Texan and his family out on the family ranch near Bandera, Texas. Privilege Creek Ranch has been a beloved family destination for multiple generations. I had heard so many wonderful things about the ranch and its splendor. The Texan told me stories about how he had spent summers out there with his granddad fishing on the lake and hunting on the acreage. I had built up the ranch in my mind to be this absolutely astounding and beautiful piece of Texas land where the family would gather and share many wonderful moments.
We made our way down the unpaved winding road, my Texan driving, Babette in the back, while I rode shotgun. I was still in awe that it was some 70 degrees on Thanksgiving. The sun was shining and we wound around until we arrived at the ranch gate. I was so excited! We continued on and finally arrived at the house. Such a warm and loving welcome. We were with our southern family at last.
Final preparations were made, and we gathered to give a prayer of thanks. All were in joyous spirits, and we laughed as each person squeezed around the large dinning room table that wasn’t quite large enough for elbow room. Everyone accepted this humorous eating challenge with excitement. It was a wonderful feast with plenty of left overs. After dinner, many retreated to watch football, some to walk the grounds, with others preparing for pie, coffee, and other goodies. This dessert portion of the afternoon was actually doubling as a wedding shower for a pair that had eloped within the previous month. Laughter and love filled the room as each person shared advice and warm words for the newlywed couple.
After copious amounts of cake, pie, and sweet treats were consumed, it would be assumed that all would return to football or a nearby couch. Not the case. This would be the first round of Thanksgiving hunting. Prior to my departure, my grandpa had gifted me his Winchester 30-30 from the 1920′s. The Texan rounded up the rest of the gear including shells, targets, ear plugs, a 10-20 rifle, and his 30-06. We took the ranch SUV out to the shooting range and set up. After a thorough course on gun safety and operations by my love, Babette and I were ready. AMAZING! What power!? Not too bad of a kick, and I at least hit the target (that was 100 yards away) at least once with the 30-30 and once with the 10-20. Loved it. Of course the Texan was an amazing shot, but he was very supportive of Babette and I spreading our gun wings…..
While we were on the shooting range, we could hear shots in the distance, which we assumed to be the rest of the family who had headed out to the dear blinds. We didn’t return to the house until dusk and when we did, we discovered that 15 year old Zachery had got a buck. While he and some of the other men were bringing it in, we had some bits of delicious leftovers, and plopped down to watch the Cowboys play the Redskins. Apparently, there was a secret cellar in the “Trophy Room” where we were lounging. The Texan took us down there and we discovered a treasure trove of collected items from the ranch including fossils, arrowheads, old bottles, horns, and other dusty items. After we emerged, the Texan disappeared. I didn’t find him until I ventured outside, where he and Zachery, along with two of the other cousins, were beginning to skin the deer. Oh Boy. This is not for the faint of heart. Nor are my photos (you have been warned). I watched (and documented) the entire process and can now say that I know what it sounds like when a severed deer hoof is thrown into a bloody bucket of its insides. Yep.
That night Babette, the Texan, and I stayed awake laughing until the wee hours of the morning. I’m not sure about what exactly, but I remember commenting on the dried deer blood on the Texan’s shirt as he went to hug me… I laughed and accepted my southern fate, and gave him a big hug right back, deer blood and all.
There had been discussion about getting up at 5:30am to go hunting during round 2–this time actually going out to a deer blind and not just the shooting range–however we were simply too tired when the alarm went off. Around 9am, I strolled out to the kitchen for a hot cup of coffee and yummy breakfast of bacon, eggs, and fresh fruit. The hunters returned around 9:45am with 3 more deer who had not been so fortunate. All of the deer made there way into the walk-in cooler, right in between the left over turkey and pies.
For our final ranch activity, the Texan took Babette and I, with several other family members, on a drive around the land. It was a beautiful, warm, and sunny day. It was a perfect way to end our first southern Thanksgiving at Privilege Creek Ranch.