By Trey Sperring
I wanted to tell the story of the buck I took this past November. Fortunately, I’m blessed enough to have had the opportunity to tag a trophy whitetail buck in fair chase on my family's 400-acre Coryell County ranch, which has been in my family since the late 1800s. Unfortunately, our land is not laid out very strategically to hold deer on our property, and our neighbors do not practice whitetail management like we do. Because of such circumstances, we've had to declare a minimum age to take a trophy buck at 4 1/2 years old.
We've had our hearts broken a lot in the past by letting 4 1/2 to 5 1/2-year-old bucks pass in hopes of seeing them again a year later and never returning. We started protein feeding about six years ago, and we've seen a significant difference in the rack quality of the bucks. Unfortunately again, what ultimately often happens is that we're feeding other people's deer.
In September 2011, we continued to get trail cam pictures of a 3 1/2-year-old, high, wide, slick seven point. What was so interesting about this deer was that he had unnaturally high and wide genetics for our area, but was a slick seven point. Great genetics, but he’s still a seven point. We thought that maybe because of the drought, he didn't grow a matching G3 on one side.
As bow season passed and rifle season was underway, we had quite a few opportunities to get live pictures of him on-the-hoof. Aside from being 3 1/2-years-old at this time, the deer in our area do not have large bodies like those of South Texas. Typically, a large mature buck in our area will weigh 150 pounds (not field dressed). It was hard not to pull the trigger because he looked so big, considering the circumstances, along with his high and wide rack. Luckily, he made it through the season without being shot by one of the surrounding landowners.
In August 2012, we had trail cam pictures of him, and realized he would be a slick seven point again! This time, he was even taller, wider and more massive. His one G3 grew, and so did his browtines. To have a better chance at taking him, I even picked up a bow for the first time to try and have an extra month to hunt him before the rut and rifle season. I had committed to shooting this deer if the conditions were perfect, and he was within 20 yards.
One September morning, I sat in one of our new bow stands dreaming of how it would look to have an opportunity to draw on this buck. About 9:45 a.m., after only seeing two does early at the feeder, I looked over my left shoulder and I saw him walking right towards me along the fence line. Walking at a stiff pace, he came 10 yards from me to my left and stopped to look up at me. He didn't see me, but he sensed something was off. Luckily I had the wind. He began to walk farther down the fence line past me. At that moment, I grabbed my bow to try and get to a good position to pull back. He was right at 20 yards. When he decided to jump the fence onto my side, I tried to pull the bow back, but couldn't! I was too nervous! The buck fever was overwhelming. After seeing me struggle a bit, he spooked and ran out of sight. I never saw him again during bow season.
On Sunday morning, November 18, I was hunting in one of our ground blinds when I saw a doe in the field to my right at about 6:45 a.m. (still pretty dark). She continued looking behind her back out of my sight at what could have been a buck. At about 7 a.m., I looked again into the field to my right, and the doe ran 100 percent full speed towards the fence line right in front of me. Not five seconds later, the big seven was trailing her running full speed. As soon as I saw him, I immediately raised my rifle to where I thought he would present a shot. As the doe quickly approached the fence line, she stopped on a dime. The big seven kept his momentum and hopped over the fence into the pasture where I sat. Only 70 yards away, he stood broadside as I squeezed the trigger.
It all happened in a matter of 15 seconds. He hopped the fence and dropped 25 yards from where he was shot. I couldn't believe I finally shot the buck I was after for so long. As my father and I walked up on him, I couldn't help but to shed a few tears in true appreciation for such an incredible animal.