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2023 Ended on a High Note!

PorterHouse

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 3, 2020
Messages
280
Location
Texas
I do a lot of deer hunting here in Texas. We have a small…less than 100 acre…family place in south Texas that I’ve pretty much hunted every year since I was 5. If you read “…deer hunting in Texas…” and you’re thinking high fences, protein pellets, breeder bucks, etc., this ain’t that.

I killed a doe in October (first deer with my bow) and then I spent nearly all of Thanksgiving week trying to get my 18 year old cousin on a good deer. Long story short, he was too picky, no shots were fired, and no dice for him.

Fast forward a few weeks and I’m headed down there for a long weekend to see my 87 yr. old granddad, who lives out there full time, and hunt with my dad (we always try to get at least one long weekend of hunting in during the rut every December). Antler wise, it’s been arguably the best year I can remember down there, and I was more than happy to hopefully get a shot at one of the good bucks my cousin had passed on a few weeks before.

Dad headed down early Friday morning and after I took care of some things at home, I got on the road with enough time to be able to get down there and do an evening hunt (aka sit…there’s not much hiking to be done through all the cactus and south Texas scrub brush). I’m about an hour out and my phone rings. It’s Dad calling to tell me he has a piece of news I’m going to want to know.
 
When Dad got down there, he pulled the SD card out of one of the game cameras we have to see what kind of activity there had been since we had been down last. Pre-rut was definitely starting over Thanksgiving so we were hopeful it would be “full-on” now that it was a couple weeks later.

He tells me that there were a handful of pictures of a big buck with a drop tine. This gets me excited as I’ve never seen a buck with a drop in the wild and always wanted to kill one. But my expectations are also tempered by the fact that we often get fleeting glimpses of big bucks on camera during the rut but it’s typically a, “should have been here yesterday”, or, “should have been here last weekend” kind of thing. Regardless, this bit of news gives an extra little jolt of excitement to the weekend ahead. I tell him I’ll be there soon and that I want to look over the pictures myself once I get in.
 
Well, he wasn’t lying. Wow, this deer is nice! Probably one of the best ones we’ve gotten on camera down there. Now I’m even more excited. Even though I realize the chances are slim that I get an opportunity on him, I decide at this point that it’s this deer or bust for me (helps when you already have two deer in the freezer and some elk still left over from last year).

We sit in separate stands Friday evening. Plenty of activity. Lots of younger bucks harassing a couple of hot does. I see a mature, heavy horned 8 point that we hadn’t seen before come in and this was exactly the kind of buck I originally had come down there to kill…and any other year, I would have. But knowing what else was potentially out there, I let him walk. Roll of the dice, I know. But like I said, it was the drop tine buck or nothing for me this trip. No shots fired Friday evening.

Forecast was calling for another unseasonably warm, windy Saturday morning ahead of a cold front that would be blowing in later that evening. Not great, condition wise, but it’s the rut so you never know what might happen.
 
Saturday morning we were up early and headed out well before shooting light to get in the stand. We decide to sit together that morning. We settle in, get some extra ZZZs, and wait for daylight. As it’s getting light enough to see with binos, we already notice some deer milling around. Shooting light hits, and a few more deer appear. A few minutes later, another doe appears with a buck right on her tail. He’s running her all over the place and after about 10 minutes, she gives up and he breeds her right there in front of us. Pretty wild…never seen that before in person.

The next twenty minutes are filled with lots of activity. Half a dozen does and fawns and 3 different bucks sniffing, chasing, etc. There are deer running here and there and everywhere. They’ll dip into the brush, pop back out, rinse and repeat.

Then I catch movement on the right…a buck. Even with the naked eye I could tell it’s a big one. Put the binos up and it took all of 0.5 second to recognize the drop tine! No way!!! It’s him!!!
 
I don’t even put the binos back in my chest harness, I just dump them in my Dad’s lap. I get the gun up, get on the deer and take the safety off (already had a round in the chamber). He has worked to the middle of the shooting lane and has stopped on his own watching all of the other deer activity around him. He’s hard quartered away. I aim so that my exit would be out the opposite shoulder, take a breathe and squeeze one off.

He’s hit hard. He hunches over on impact and staggers off into the brush. We’re pretty sure we hear him crash but we sit and give him a little bit. From the time I saw him to the time I pulled the trigger was probably 30 seconds. Not much time to think in the moment, just moving off muscle memory and instinct. But now the adrenaline dump occurs and it hits me what just happened. I just shot, by far, my biggest whitetail to date!

Minutes seem like hours as I can’t wait to go find him. Dad, being the voice of reason, tells me to chill and that we’re going to wait a little longer. Finally, we go pick up the trail and after a short track job (about 40 yards), find him piled up under a mesquite.
 
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