Editor’s Note: When John Phillips was drafted into professional football by the Dallas Cowboys, he was much like B’rer Rabbit thrown in the briar patch. Phillips landed right in the lap of some of the best deer, turkey and predator hunting in the nation. “Everybody in Texas hunts,” says Phillips. “While I played for The Dallas Cowboys, everybody in Texas made this Virginia boy feel right at home.”
Playing football for the Dallas Cowboys opened doors for me and unlocked a lot of gates for some prime deer, turkey and predator hunting. I started hunting turkeys and deer with a quarterback named Stephen McGee, who had grown up in Round Rock, Texas. This is where I had a super chance to do some predator hunting and really got addicted to predator hunting. Of course, there were some great whitetails to hunt too. I met a lot of ranchers. We’d hunt with anyone who’d let us hunt on their properties. In my home state of Virginia, we hunted bobcats with dogs. I didn’t know how to use a predator call to get bobcats and coyotes to come to me. I really enjoyed using FOXPRO predator calls and calling in foxes, coyotes and bobcats.
On many ranches, I was allowed to take cull bucks. I learned pretty quickly that a cull buck in Texas wasn’t the same size deer as a cull buck in Virginia. On many ranches, a 130-inch whitetail was considered a cull buck. This size deer in Virginia would have been a trophy on almost anyone’s wall. When different ranchers needed someone to take out the older-age-class bucks that weren’t going to have the size racks to make them real trophies, I’d get to hunt those deer.
A friend of mine in Dallas had set-up a hunt, and we took veterans with us to hunt whitetails and hogs. Last year, we hunted turkeys with the veterans. This year, the Mossy Oak Turkey Thugs came in to help guide veterans on hunts. I thought, “What a great thing for a company like Mossy Oak to do – send in its team of turkey hunters – the Turkey Thugs – to help us take these veterans hunting.” We hunted around Blanco, Texas, where ranchers opened up their lands and their hunting to give back to the veterans who had served our country. I felt really honored to be a part of that hunt. The Mossy Oak Turkey Thugs did most of the guiding. Bobby Otis and I took one veteran turkey hunting. Our guy harvested a four-bearded turkey. After the hunt was over, and the Mossy Oak Turkey Thugs had left, I went out and called up four gobblers and took one of them.