My Best Buck
by Zane Graham
This past hunting season I was able to harvest the best buck of my hunting career. The buck first appeared at the end of December of the 2014 season on trail camera. He was a symmetrical 10 point with good tine length and showed potential to be a stud if given one more year. I knew he would be at the top of the hit list for the 2015 season. At the time he looked to be 4.5 years old and would score in the low to mid 130’s. Little did I know about a year later I would have him on the ground and he would be my best buck to date.
August quickly rolled around which meant it was time to put out trail cameras. I set one up at a water trough in the area where I had gotten pictures of the 10 point at the end of the 2014 season with hopes he was still in the area. I left the camera at the water trough for a week before I went back to check it. After going through the pictures there was no sign of the 10 point. I left the camera in same spot and went back a week later to check it again. This time, to my surprise, there was a picture of the 10 point! He had grown a good amount and now had a kicker off of his left G-2 making him an 11 point. I knew this was the buck I wanted to hunt and I had high hopes that he would show up at a nearby corn feeder in the coming months.
Once it was September it was time to fill all of the corn feeders to get ready for the season. I put a trail camera at the closest feeder to the water trough where I had got the picture of the buck a month earlier. With opening weekend only a couple of weeks away I hoped the 11 point would show up at the feeder sooner than later. When I returned the next weekend to check the camera there were no pictures of the buck. I thought maybe he hadn’t found the feeder yet since it had only been throwing for a week but maybe soon he would come across it. Opening weekend approached and there was still no sign of the 11 point. I decided to hunt other areas until the 11 point showed up or I crossed paths with a better buck. I hunted all of bow season without seeing a shooter buck or getting any pictures of the 11 point. I started to doubt that I would see the 11 point and thought he might have moved over to the neighbors who had a feeder about a mile away. The second weekend of November I didn’t go to the ranch so my dad went out and checked all of the trail cameras. Later that evening he texted me a couple of pictures and to my surprise it was the big 11 point! There were only two pictures of him and both of them were at night on the same day. I knew he was going to be a hard buck to harvest but I was up for the challenge.
I hunted that feeder morning and evening every weekend for about a month but never saw the buck. I would get a picture or two of him on trail camera once or twice a week but it was always in the middle of the week. The pictures of him would be on Tuesday or Wednesday every time it seemed like and of course I would be at school instead of in the blind. Once I got my schedule for finals I saw that I would be finished with school for the semester on December 15 which was a Tuesday. I knew right then and there where I would be sitting on Wednesday. I was hoping and praying the 11 point would stick to his routine and show up.
Wednesday afternoon at about 3:00 p.m. I quietly walked to the blind. Along the way I jumped several deer and spooked them out of the area. None of the deer were the 11 point but it still put a dent in my confidence. I didn’t know if the 11 point was in the area and saw or heard the other deer running off. After climbing into the elevated blind I anxiously waited for 5:15 p.m. to come around which is when the feeder would throw corn. The blind was on top of a big flat hill so I was able to see a good distance from the blind. I scanned the brush lines for any movement with my Leupold binoculars hoping to see the buck. After a couple of hours I saw some smaller bucks following does off to my left and they were coming towards me. Shortly afterwards the feeder threw and got the bucks’ minds off of the does and on to the corn. They headed straight to the feeder while the does grazed in the flats. About ten minutes later I caught of glimpse of something off to my right. As I got my binoculars up I saw it was a group of javelina about 200 yards from the feeder headed towards it. My confidence took another hit because deer hate javelina and won’t come to the feeder if they see javelina there. The good thing was that it was flat and not a lot of brush so I could see a long ways. This meant the buck wouldn’t necessarily have to be at the feeder for me to get a shot at him. The javelina came to the feeder and started eating the corn but shockingly they only stayed for about 15 minutes and then they left. The deer that were at the feeder had left when the javelina came in but started making their way back in after the javelina left. There were now five bucks and two does at the feeder with daylight fading quickly. It was now a little after 6:00 p.m. and the hunt was basically over with only 5-10 minutes left of shooting light. As soon as I was about to pack up my gear I saw a deer in the flat area behind the feeder about 100 yards coming towards it. I thought it was a doe because I had seen several does in that area grazing all afternoon. I got my binoculars and looked but it was no doe, it was the 11 point!
I quickly grabbed my Remington Sendero and prepared myself to make a good shot the first opportunity I got. There was a doe about 20 yards from the blind and she saw me when I put my gun out the window. She stood there looking at me and I thought it was a matter of time before she ran off and scared every deer in the area. As I looked through the scope I saw the 11 point had just made it to the feeder, I knew I had to act quickly. With only a few minutes of shooting light left I placed the cross hairs of the Leupold scope behind his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The buck dropped in his tracks and I couldn’t have been more excited. I kept my eyes on him for a few more minutes to make sure he wasn’t going to get up before I climbed down out of the blind. When I walked up to him and put my hands on his antlers I instantly knew the buck was bigger than he looked on the trail camera pictures. Patience and persistence had finally paid off after a long season of hunting for the buck. He ended up scoring in the low 140’s which made him a stud for a West Texas buck and not to mention-my best buck.
Zane Graham is a dedicated hunter who loves chasing Texas whitetails. West Texas is his home and he has a hunting lease nearby where he spends most of his free time. He took his first deer at the age of 9 and has taken multiple bucks scoring over 130, with both his rifle and bow since then. He recently started filming his own hunts and loves both the challenge and the satisfaction of reliving the hunt. Zane is working on a criminology degree at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and hopes to one day become a game warden for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.