Trophy Buck from Atascosa County
September 18, 2018
Editorial Staff (256 articles)
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Trophy Buck from Atascosa County

By Omar Berlanga

Whether it was for birds, whitetail deer, a few exotics, or with little green plastic army men, I’ve been hunting for as long as I can remember. My first memories are from sitting on the back porch with my grandfather, as we took turns shooting a BB gun at my army men that we strategically placed all over some banana trees. Another memory, a less fond one, was hunting with my dad on a friend’s ranch. I was hoping to shoot my first doe.

I remember being so small I couldn’t hold the .20-05 rifle on my own. So, as I stood, my dad knelt behind me to help hold the gun and brace me while I shot. Setting up for the shot, he didn’t notice I put the gunstock under my arm because it was the only way for me to see through the scope. After all these years, I still remember that feeling after I pulled the trigger. Everything went in slow motion as I turned towards my dad and he steadied me, because I was completely dazed.

Needless to say I missed the doe and had— thankfully—only a little nick on my forehead and the bridge of my nose. As you can imagine, I also had a heck of a headache until the next day, and later, a black eye. Despite getting “scoped,” my love for hunting never diminished.

Whitetail hunt invitation accepted

I’ve been very fortunate to have gone on many hunting trips, have a beautiful family ranch to enjoy, and to have taken many great animals. Lately, I do more guiding than hunting, which I also enjoy. So, when Frank Malek invited my father and me hunting, I looked forward to the opportunity.

We arrived at the Buck Horn Creek Ranch late in the afternoon. The 4,600-acre paradise is in Atascosa County. Because we arrived in the late afternoon on the first day of our hunt, we decided to go sit in blinds and scout. It was very peaceful sitting in a blind observing all the wildlife the ranch has to offer. I saw birds, deer of all ages, a bobcat, and a coyote. Later that evening during dinner, we all shared what we saw and enjoyed a delicious meal before heading off to bed.

We woke up to a cool and overcast morning, not too much wind, which made it perfect for hunting. We all met at the headquarters to gather our hunting gear and some water before heading out to the blinds. I was taken to a different blind than I had scouted the night before. This blind sat at the edge of the brush line overlooking a large field.

Waiting for my buck

I had a protein feeder on one side and a corn feeder on the other. Almost immediately after being dropped off, deer emerged from the brush to munch on corn. I saw a few does and some young bucks impressive for their age that would make some lucky hunters very happy. It wasn’t long before I began receiving text messages from my dad, asking me what I was seeing and him telling me which deer were at his blind.

He was guiding a family friend, Gus Cargile. Gus is 95 years young and took a very nice 10-point buck of his own that morning. Meanwhile, while distracted by my dad’s fast and furious texting style, where I can barely respond to one question before the next arrives, my dream buck had stepped out of the brush unbeknownst to me. I finally noticed the monster buck that I presumed had emerged from the brush line to my left.

In a heartbeat I knew he was big. I put my phone down and grabbed my binocular to see just how big. He was a monster buck with several drop tines, something I’ve always dreamed of shooting, but up until now, never had the opportunity.

Lining up the shot

I wasn’t going to let this buck of a lifetime get away. I picked up my gun and positioned it out the window. The buck started to walk into the field and I began to lose the angle from the left window, so I had to tilt my rifle slightly to the left to get a good shot. Looking back, I should have taken my time and waited for the deer to move farther into the field and shoot through the other window.

I felt a bit flustered. I fired. In all my excitement, I couldn’t tell by the sound if I hit the buck or not, but the buck certainly acted like he’d been hit.

I had to pull my rifle back inside the blind and reposition it out the other window. I could see the buck of my dreams running into the field until he stopped, staggered, and fell over. I chambered another round and kept my rifle ready to fire again, just in case the buck jumped up. He did not.

Anticipation builds

I’ve guided many hunters in my life and now know how they must feel when I told them to relax and wait awhile, before going to check on the deer they shot. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but I waited what seemed like an eternity, until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I jumped out the blind, taking both my rifle and pistol with me, just in case. I walked through the tall grass, but couldn’t see the buck, until I was a few feet away.

He was down. I took a perfect shot right behind the shoulder. I took a few pictures and went back to the blind before sending them to a few friends and my old man. Back at the headquarters, my dad said the pictures didn’t do the buck justice. I remarked that I might have to retire from hunting, since I’d be awfully lucky to shoot another buck of this caliber.

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