Ex Outlaw Hunter turned Storyteller | Before the Stories are Lost

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Take a look at that hellacious buck! A friend of mine sent me this picture and told me who and where this one was taken this year. It turns out that I have known the man who got him and the ranch the buck was taken on. It was over 50 years ago when I first set foot on that ranch and met the brothers who owned it. They were good friends with my stepfather who I write about in my book. They had a few hundred acres of high fence within the boundaries of their ranch, where they kept some axis deer, and they let me walk the place over collecting shed antlers. Now I know that country down deep in South Texas better than most, and the sizable ranch the buck was taken on is a low-fenced ranch. It borders a big place on the north and a bigger place to the west, and both of those ranches are low-fenced. Hell, across the highway to the east of the place is a division of the King Ranch, whom I salute for not high-fencing their nearly 900,000 acres.  Within here lies the rub and what got me thinking about what has been allowed to be done with Mother Nature’s precious whitetail deer in my home state of Texas.  Incarcerated behind high fences, selectively bred and fed to produce extreme antler growth, specifically for narcissistic vanity trophy collectors with way more money than good sense to adorn their home or office walls. Actually, the process of harvesting these so-called trophy whitetails is as far removed from real hunting and is, at best, a little brush country theater to help customers feel a sense of accomplishment.

After looking at this specimen, several will think to themselves that they know a dozen ranches where you can take one bigger and with more points than this one. Certainly, they would be correct. With over six hundred deer breeding facilities still operating in Texas, potentially the number of non-typical whitetails behind high fences could be a significant number, coupled with the fact that non-typical whitetails have existed long before the craze began monkeying with the deer. 

The man who shot this trophy buck was looking to shoot a pig. You see, he has been the foreman of this ranch for at least 30 years. Needless to say, he knew the ranch like the back of his hand and In all those years, he had never seen a buck with antlers that look like that and are dissimilar to the deer taken from that oak country. After relatives saw the picture of the owners, one of them recalled a buck that one of the brothers had killed that had similar antlers over seventy years ago on that ranch. Wouldn’t that be incredible if the genes of a truly special animal were passed over those many generations of deer and nature decided to let us see it one more time? The tragedy of this story is every person I have shown the picture to immediately identifies it as a high-fence deer. I’m certain the man who shot this buck isn’t losing any sleep over whether or not the buck he shot is naturally occurring or not! What is sad, now none of us will ever know again. Imagine yourself a hunter that works hard for his money and sticks away enough to get on a lease or pay outright for the privilege to hunt a good low-fence ranch with the opportunity to take a trophy wild deer. It must have been his lucky day when this behemoth appeared and he dropped him. A grinder of a stud, 25” wide, heavy with long tines, a six-inch drop tine, and hickies thrown everywhere. Without a doubt the proudest moment in this hunter’s life! However, in this day and age, if you are an honest man, when you drift off to sleep thinking of the hunt when you took your monster, I would wonder, is my pride and joy trophy whitetail a true wild trophy or is it a minnow trap raised piece of livestock that escaped its incarceration from behind one of those many high fenced ranches in Texas?

How fortuitous, the impeccable timing. While writing this piece, a friend sent me a link to what appears to be the new all-time Texas record non-typical whitetail. This new monster is reported to score 321 points Boone and Crockett and would eclipse the all time Texas non-typical that stood supreme since 1892. That old monster is referred to as the Brady buck and resides in the Buckhorn Hall of Fame in San Antonio, Texas. The Brady buck scored 286 B&C, and this new giant measures 321; wow!

The post stated that this new record came from a low-fenced 6000-acre ranch in South Texas without a management program in place. After inspection of this tremendous buck, it was reported to be absent of any chips or electronic locator, no ear tags or holes were found, and no tattooing was found inside the mouth of the animal. Congratulations go out to Ms Berry on her once-in-a-lifetime unbelievable trophy whitetail buck.

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