Like most hunters across South Texas, I anxiously awaited the start of the 2010-’11 whitetail season. With record rainfall at the end of 2009 and continuing into the summer 2010, range conditions couldn’t have been better for antler growth. It would be an awesome season, and being the owner/operator of Double Diamond Outfitters, I would be fortunate to spend almost every day of the season chasing whitetails.
After a two-day break for Christmas, I headed back to the Pearl Ranch, 5,500 low-fenced acres between George West and Freer, to meet Roger Baber and his 14-year -old son Trip and guide their hunt for the next few days. I was really excited to be hunting between Christmas and New Year’s because you just never know what you’ll see when you’re hunting during the rut in South Texas, especially on a low-fence ranch.
The afternoon of Dec. 26 had cool and overcast weather with a light north wind—perfect hunting conditions for South Texas. We were hunting a big nine-point that we had seen several times. We estimated it would score in the 160s, but he never showed. Trip was able to take a great management buck and get the hunt off to a good start. Over the next couple days, we kept hunting the big nine-point, but he never showed himself. So we decided to move to a different part of the ranch to locate some of the other big bucks on the ranch.
With good weather conditions and the rut, we decided to go to the blind early Tuesday afternoon. We loaded my Jeep and started the 15-minute drive. Everything was perfect until I realized I forgot my binocular. I didn’t have time to drive back and get it, and wasn’t much of a guide without them. Luckily I remembered we had an extra pair at the other house, which was much closer to the blind. While dropping Roger and Trip off at the blind, I noticed a couple does down one of the senderos, but didn’t think much of it since we see resident does fairly often there.
After getting the binocular, I raced back to the blind and noticed Roger waving out one of the windows. I thought he was just looking at the does and wasn’t very concerned, but then I noticed the closer I got to the blind the more frantic the waving became. There had to be something in the sendero, so I got out of my Jeep, told “Brutus” (my lacy pup) to stay put and eased up to the edge of the sendero. I saw one of the biggest native Texas bucks I’ve ever seen. He was following a couple yearling does. He was an absolute monster!
We had to figure out a plan, and fast. I ran back and turned off my Jeep, told Brutus to stay one more time, and ran back to the sendero. Belly crawling back into the sendero, I had to get far enough into the sendero to get a good look at the buck. I had to age/score him, not get seen by the does or the buck, and hopefully be close enough to communicate with Roger and Trip.
The buck quickly closed the distance to us, as he pushed the yearling does down the sendero. But he wouldn’t turn broadside, so I couldn’t age him. I had him rough-scored at 167 inches and knew a buck that big had to be 6 1/2 years old, or more, before we could shoot him. As he closed to within 100 yards, I finally aged him and knew we had to take this buck and quickly.
I heard Trip flick the safety off his rifle. When the buck turned to step back towards the does, he paused just long enough for Trip to fire. Unfortunately, having quickly acquired a bad case of buck fever, Trip shot over the buck.
Luckily the buck wasn’t sure where the shot came from and ran closer to us, across the other side of the sendero, and stopped to look back to see what happened. That was all the time Trip needed for a second shot. This time, he found his mark.
Roger and Trip came down from the blind as I put the GPS collar on Brutus. We gave the buck a few minutes to expire, and then we were off to recover him. It didn’t take Brutus long to find the buck. Once we caught up to Brutus and got our hands on the buck, we all breathed a sigh of relief.
This buck was a monster 12 point and there was no ground shrinkage. In fact, just the opposite. This buck got bigger the longer we looked at him. I scored him for the Texas Big Game Awards and he gross-scored 171-4/8 and was 7 1/2 years old. Now that’s what you come to South Texas for!