When I purchased the T-14 Ranch in August of 1999, I told Leonel “Muy” Garza I was going to need some help managing it. He said he would be there for me, not knowing it would be many years of work and sweat. You see, I was playing in the NFL, which is not very forgiving to deer hunters. For six years I lived on videos taken by Muy and sent to me in the various cities where I played. At the end of each football season, I couldn't wait to get down to the ranch and see them myself.
In 2005 we spotted a young buck that we thought was a 2 1/2-year-old that looked like he had potential for growing a little spread. He would come to water at the pond in front of the house, so he earned the name “House Buck.” The next year he was close to 21 inches wide and had nine points. He didn’t have much tine length, but he had fairly long brow tines. Looking back he may have been considered a cull buck on most ranches, but because of his spread I stuck to the plan and waited another year.
Spring and summer 2007 were wet and I couldn’t wait for the videos from Muy to start showing up. He spotted a buck with long brow tines that he proclaimed looked like a B-52 bomber. Sure enough, House Buck had a name change. He sported a 13-point rack and approximately 27-inch spread. Boy, was I glad we let him go another year!
By the end of that season we noticed he had been injured a little in a fight, but seemed to be healthy enough. The next year he went down to 10 points and approximately a 25-inch spread. That season began the drought we all know about. I believe the combination of the injury and the drought affected his rack.
The 2009 drought was the worst one that most can remember. Leonel filled feed barrels on a regular basis and we began using Antlers-X, created by Dr. George Vogt, as a supplement mixed with our feed. The deer had very little brows, so our feed program would have to sustain them till the rains came. To our surprise, our bigger deer that were hitting the feeders actually had better antlers than the year before, even with the bad conditions.
We couldn’t wait to catch a glimpse of B-52. He didn’t disappoint, as he was back and better than ever. He sported the same 10-point frame, but had grown to push 30 inches in spread!
I decided to let him go another year and hope for better rain the next spring. During this season he became a local celebrity with his picture displayed around the Muy Grande Deer Contest. People inquired about the deer and one day Muy said he might have someone who would like to hunt B-52. This someone turned out to be Leonel’s brother, Larry. I thought it would be great to keep him in the family, because had it not been for Leonel, I wouldn’t be able to have had this ranch.
Mother nature came through, and we continued using supplement to give him that extra boost. The trail cameras went out in June and Leonel started passing out pictures. I have never seen a 30-inch wide whitetail, but that’s exactly what I was looking at when we displayed the pictures. I forwarded the pictures and the progress B-52 made to Larry and we decided, actually he insisted, the hunt should begin opening morning.
Opening morning found Larry, our cameraman, and myself, in a blind awaiting the arrival of B-52. A big-bodied deer stepped onto the sendero and when he turned, we knew it was B-52. As luck would have it, he moved toward the end of the sendero. A big boar had come out and started moving deer off.
B-52 got nervous as Larry steadied himself for the shot. B-52 moved to the edge of the sendero and just as he was about to leave, the shot rang out. One jump and he was in the brush.
My phone began to vibrate with text messages from people back at camp wondering if he was down and if they could come help. I held them off and after a half-hour of replaying the shot and calming down, we went to look for sign of a hit. We got to the spot where he stood and looked to the right and found a beam sticking up almost three feet in the air. Hugs and high fives began as we walked up to B-52. This deer became larger the closer we got to him. Two trucks loaded with people showed up to get their hands on the legendary deer. Leonel even had his trusty tape measure to find out the anticipated spread.
In 44 years of measuring deer, his tape had only stretched past 30 inches 10 times. B-52 made it 11 times with an outside spread of 31 7/8ths. He also gross scored 173 inches. Leonel reports that this is the widest deer ever presented to the Muy Grande Contest in the 45 year history from a high fenced ranch.