The author with her brother (left) and father. F
or many years, my family has participated in a deer lease covering a portion of the Callaghan Ranch located in Webb County. My first visit to our lease in 2012 was during the weekend of December 8 and 9. The temperature was warm, and it didn’t seem like pre-rut at all. We saw very few mature bucks, but none that got me excited.
We decided to stay Sunday afternoon and try once more before heading home late. We had hunted various places all weekend looking for a potential trophy. We decided to sit in a blind I had never used. It’s called the “Condo Blind” because it’s oversized and on a trailer.
After waiting 45 minutes, several does and a few young bucks appeared, but nothing special. It was getting towards the end of our hunt and we were about to give up. I looked through the spotting scope when I got my first glimpse at “my buck.” I did a double take and whispered, “Umm, Dad—theeeeere.”
I couldn’t speak because I was in shock. The deer stood about 200 yards away in an overgrown brushy sendero. He moved towards us, but had his head down so you could only see his back. When he lifted his head you could clearly see his massive antlers.
I couldn’t get a clear broadside shot through the brush. At 75 yards away, he looked up then slipped into the heavy brush. He disappeared and my heart sank. My dad hoped he would appear in a different sendero, but it quickly became dark.
He never re-appeared and we had to go home so I could go to school the next morning. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hunt him until after taking my finals. When we got home, I couldn’t wait to tell my mom; we were all so excited. I dreamed and prayed about it for 12 days hoping the buck wouldn’t move off our lease, or get shot by someone else.
My dad returned to the lease on December 19 and sat in the same blind. My deer was still there. He sent me video clips and confirmed it was a mature buck. What a relief! I still had a chance. I didn’t dare tell anyone about my buck, not even my brother.
My brother left college after the semester ended, and had been at our lease since the prior Saturday. On Thursday night, my brother called me to say he shot an awesome buck, a 165 3/8" 10-point with a 3½-inch drop tine. It was his best buck ever. I was so happy for him, but could hardly wait to return to our lease.
To add to the suspense, according to the Mayan calendar, the world would supposedly end on the same day I would take my last final. I would also get another chance at my buck. Finally, after 12 days, and with finals behind me, I headed back to South Texas that Friday.
We arrived at camp around 2 p.m. and my dad, my brother, and I headed for the Condo Blind. We left corn at all four senderos and waited. First, a couple does appeared. So did a few young bucks, then a nice wide eight-point, but not my deer. After an hour, my dad finally spotted him.
My buck returned to the same overgrown sendero. My brother couldn’t believe his eyes. We had finally described my buck to him, but I guess words didn’t convey how impressive he was. The tall brush still prevented me from taking a clear shot.
By this time there were does, bucks, and javelinas at all four senderos. I was ready, but he just wouldn’t step out and present a clear shot. Occasionally he would disappear into the tall heavy brush on the edge of the sendero, and all I could do was to hope and pray he’d come back out. Finally, he came out and started walking towards us. Just as he did, a beautiful large bobcat crossed the sendero between our blind and my buck.
A few seconds later, my buck went back into the heavy brush before I could get a shot. My dad spotted him 5 minutes later on the side of a different sendero. I quickly repositioned myself and set my crosshairs on him. He stepped out in the open and I fired.
The 140-grain bullet hit its mark, but my buck ran back in the heavy brush. I felt like I made a good shot, but it all happened so quickly. I began having doubts, but my dad and brother told me he was hit hard and that I made a great shot. We waited for the longest 10 minutes of my life and then went after him.
He lay 30 yards off the sendero and was bigger on the ground than any deer I have ever seen. We estimated him at 175-plus. He’s a symmetrical main framed heavy 10-point with a small kicker on his left brow tine. It was so special for me because my dad and brother were hunting with me (which is rare) and witnessed it, rather than just hear me tell the story. The ranch’s check-in station aged him at 6 1/2 years old and scored him at 177 even. The next day we took him to Los Cazadores in Pearsall where they also measured him at 177. This was the biggest deer anyone in our family has ever shot. He is my buck of a lifetime and will look great in my pink bedroom. Boy, am I glad the Mayans were wrong.