By Larry Weishuhn
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” I turned toward what had obviously
grabbed companion’s attention. I
had opened the pasture gate. He
had been the first one through it, walking a few steps into the pasture. I noted he was looking into underbrush
at something hidden just beyond my view.
I latched the gate. Walking
toward his side, he was pointing down slope of the creek next to the gate,
toward a patch of honeysuckle and green briar. “It can’t be! Can it?”
Now my curiosity and interest truly were piqued.
Earlier that morning, actually for the past
several days we had been hunting an area near the confluence of two creeks,
both travel corridors that met at a pinch point where the two joined to form
one. Charlie had chosen a place to
hunt on the east bank. I set up a
ground blind on the west bank. On
either side of the steep, bare sided fast flowing stream, was a strip of trees
and brush about twenty yards wide.
East and west were huge fields of the” creek bottom” had been planted
corn and soybeans. Only a
twenty-yards strip of corn and soybeans were left standing next to the tree
line. The rest of the crops had
been harvested about two weeks earlier.
We had paid the farmer to leave the standing corn and soybean to help
provide forage for the deer and other wildlife living in the area.
Before the hunting season opened we had
located no less than eleven mature bucks which cruised through and lived in the
area we hunted. We hoped to take
no more than two, a buck for Charlie and a second for me. The buck I targeted was a tall-tined,
twenty or so inside spread, massive typical twelve point. The buck Charlie hoped to take was a
massive and tall eight point plus another twelve “kicker” or non-typical
The typical 12-point, based on what I had
seen before the season opened, would score right at the Boone & Crockett
Club’s minimum typical score. I
suspected he was at least seven years old because I had hunted him for the past
two years. In spite of all my
efforts, I had obviously thus far failed in using a tag on him. Going back to the start, the first time
I got serious about him, he was easily a 160’s class typical twelve and he was
already mature. Each of the
last two years his antlers had gotten steadily bigger.
The only time I had seen him during the
fall hunting season, was after dark.
Quite often seemingly total nocturnal bucks
tend to move during the middle of the day, when hunters are back in camp eating
lunch or watching football. I had
counted on mid-day movement and had the previous days hunted all day long. But if indeed he moved any time other
than after dark, it was an area totally different from where I hunted. I strongly suspected, like other old
bucks I had hunted in the past, he had a very tight or small home area and essentially
did not move during daylight hours.
If he moved at all during daylight it was to stand and stretch, then lay
He too seemed to be one of “those bucks”
that produced enough testosterone to complete the antler cycle, but little
more. I suspected he did not
openly chase does, or if so it was only under the cover of darkness. Some bucks are like that, especially
those with over-sized antlers.
The buck too, reminded me much of a buck
that years ago had lived on one of the ranches I managed. We called Ricky, as much as I was and
am opposed to giving bucks names.
Ricky had been bottle-raised and grew up eating bananas, Dorito chips
and Purina Dog Chow. So named
after one of the ranch’s vaqueros and sometimes camp cook, Ricardo, who started
feeding the buck fawn bananas along with goat’s milk. Up until when Ricky turned four years of age, he
was a pet! He lived right around
the foreman’s home and was obvious throughout the day.
When Ricky turned four, he had 160 class,
typical 10 antlers. Going into the
fall I got permission from the State to put pendulum style ear tags in both
ears and freeze-brand the letters “N” “O” on both of his side (the branded area
turned white). This was to mark
him so he would be quite obvious when seen by hunters. The ranch declared him off limits for
several reasons but also I wanted to see what kind of antlers he would produce
during ensuing years.
We had hunters on that ranch nearly every
day throughout the hunting season.
What was interesting about Ricky, once he turned four, he was never
again seen during daylight throughout the two month long (archery and rifle)
hunting season. However, every
night about an hour after dark Ricky would show up at the foreman’s house. There he ate the banana, Dorito chips
and Purina dog food left specifically for him. He would lay down under the night light, other than when he
was chasing does, throughout the darkest of night. An hour before black turned
to gray, Ricky would disappear.
Where he went during daylight hours or what he did, I have no idea. It
was as if during daylight the earth swallowed him. The pet buck followed the same routine throughout the rest
of the ten years he lived. Outside
of being hard antlered, when in velvet or freshly shed, he reverted to his pet
years. When his antlers hardened he
again each year turned fully nocturnal….
Other mature bucks which I saw after dark,
I also usually saw during the day between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm. These older
bucks tended to be more active during this time period when there was either a
full moon or no moon at night. I
often used this chink in their armor when it came to hunting them. That said, I have taken most of my
bigger antlered, mature bucks during mid-day while other hunters were back a
The big twelve seemed to be more like Ricky
than other mature bucks I had hunted. Hunting him was challenging, fun,
exciting, but, also frustrating!
As I walked toward Charlie, pointing, my
thoughts were, “my” big twelve point or the multi-pointed buck he had been
hunting was lying dead in the honeysuckle; killed by coyotes, or having run
into a fast moving vehicle, or, heavens forbid the two bucks had joined in
mortal combat and their antlers locked together and now both were dead.
Frankly, I was almost afraid to look
exactly where Charlie pointed…
With trepidation I stepped beside him. Looked down his outstretched arm to
where he pointed with his fingers.
I saw movement in the underbrush then
watched as the clump of honeysuckle and briar spit out a monstrous bodied
whitetail buck. My eyes immediately
locked on his head. Both antlers,
were broken off…gone, just above the brow-tines. For a moment I thought it might be one of the two bucks we
hunted, then spotted strips of white hair formed almost like streaks of
lightning on his right shoulder.
I remembered a buck a nearby landowner had
told me about seeing, one he was convinced as a typical 8-point net-scored in
the low 180’s B&C! But where
he had previously seen the monstrous eight, was easily ten miles away.
The broken-horn, white-streaked buck
staggered a bit, turned and ran directly away from us. Like my companion I
never thought of raising my .300 H&H Mag, Ruger No. 1 loaded with Hornady
ammo. But then raised the rifle to
watch the buck disappears through my Trijicon AccuPoint scope. I wished him well and dearly hoped, he
would survive and visit our property with a full compliment of antlers the
The next four days of our hunt passed
without any great excitement other than the scents ad non-scents we used
created by Texas Raised Hunting Products (www.texasraisedhuntingproducts.com)
worked to perfection. We saw an
abundance of mature bucks with really good antlers, but not the two particular
bucks we were looking for.
I failed to take the typical 12 and my
hunting partner failed to tag the non-typical he had hoped to take to Double
Nickle Taxidermy (www.doublenickletaxidermy.com)
near New Braunfels, Texas. But that did not mean our hunt was
unsuccessful! I continued to learn
more about whitetails. And I still ha my unfilled tag. That allowed me to continue by hunt on
this and other properties. And thankfully there was much hunting season time