As usual, it was a nail-biter on the last day of my Texas whitetail hunting adventure. I was on the hunt to find a management buck that fit the definition set by my guide, Mason Roberts, at Monte Cruz Hunts.
Roberts had been dropping me off in various locations throughout the hunt. I hunted solo and he scouted other locations for a possible management candidate. On the last day he dropped me off on a ridge, giving me the option of watching an open flattop from an elevated box blind or a high knob. The wind was whipping, so I picked the blind for comfort. (Give me a break. I’ve been hunting for 4 1/2 months. Can’t I enjoy one day in a blind?)
At sunrise, deer were trekking past me on their way to bedding cover across the flat. Two young bucks chased a herd of does, but none fit the definition I had to meet. Suddenly, a buck that I caught a glimpse of the day before arrived in furious fashion. He was a wide, mature 4×4 with short tines. I acquired him in my Nikon Monarch riflescope and prepared to depress the trigger when he darted into some brush. Within seconds he darted out, but again for only a moment. As we played cat and mouse his chase put him further and further into the bush, and seconds later he was gone. I was bummed—he was definitely the buck Roberts wanted me to tag.
Hoping he’d show again, I watched for another 30 minutes, but everything had gone undercover in the security of the thick brush. As I thought about leaving I looked to my left, and sneaking through the brush was another bruiser of a buck. I quickly field-judged him as an older buck with the 4×4 management frame that said “open season.” When the buck hit an opening, I barked like a hungry, drought-stricken Texas coyote. He paused and my Hornady bullet decked him.
The best surprise was yet to come. Roberts, a wildlife management graduate from the Southwest Texas Junior College, aged the buck and smiled. The buck was at least a 7-1/2-year-old, if not 8-1/2. It’s my oldest buck to date, and a great Texas Christmas present.