2011 Tecomate Brush Country Bucks of La Perla

After hunting our way through the Heart Land it was finally time for the South Texas Brush Country. The Texas 2011 deer season marked 25 straight seasons for me of hunting the famed Golden Triangle area of South Texas. My emotions run nothing short of a kid in candy store when I reach the Brush Country each season. On December 16th I arrived at the Laredo International Airport and was met by David Morris and Tecomate videographers Matt Carmen and Jereme Thaxton. Our hunt would be hosted by Tecomate`s Dr. Gary Schwarz in Zapata County at his outstanding La Perla Ranch. No doubt, excitement loomed ahead.

Grey misty skies hung low overhead in the Laredo area on December 16th. Light rain had fallen for at least the two previous days. The native flora and fauna were eagerly consuming precious moisture. In 2011 the South Texas Brush Country had endured a drought, the likes of which dampened the spirit of many trophy whitetail enthusiasts. There was no doubt that the head gear of many great trophy bucks in the vast brushy plains of South Texas had failed to attain their maximum growth potential during the ultra-dry 2011 spring and summer. David Morris and I would each attempt to search out and take an anomaly buck of anomalies this December. But that is Dr. Gary Schwarz`s and David`s Tecomate specialty – raise and level the nutritional plain – more big and better bucks in good times and in bad times too, even in a South Texas drought year! That`s the Tecomate way.

We purchased our licenses at Wal-Mart around noon. Then after a short 45-minute drive we made a short pit stop at the La Perla Ranch headquarters to stow our gear and prepared for the afternoon hunt. Only a matter of changing into hunting garb and unpacking and checking rifles before the Ford F-150 4x4 would be tested on the treacherously slick clay roads of La Perla Ranch. Tecomate cameraman Jeremy Thaxton and I took directions from David Morris on our initial hunting venue. After viewing the aerial photo of the ranch with David to familiarize us with the lay of the land, Jeremy and I headed out for our first evening of big whitetail hunting at La Perla. My Sako A7 Tecomate .270 WSM was on target, ready for whatever lied ahead.

We focused our first afternoon of hunting around a well-used and lush irrigated Tecomate food plot where a tremendous stand of Tecomate`s best homegrown forage was available 24 hours a day. The well-fed resident deer herd and other wildlife, including a huge gaggle of snow geese, were reported to be regular patrons at this superbly prepared Tecomate buffet. Gary and his ranch staff had encountered several trophy size bucks during the prior weeks. With some luck and the wind in our favor we might just find a shooter buck the first afternoon out. It only takes seconds in the Brush Country!

Late in the day the sun`s final rays fought through the opaque puffs of low hanging and drifting moisture. With camera rolling Jeremy and I slowly stalked to the edge of the huge irrigated food plot. Jeremy shot some great footage that afternoon. The South Texas rut was in full swing. Bucks chased does in and out of the food plot while at the same time side stepping herds of hungry snow geese that fed veraciously amongst the whitetails. Two buck sparred intermittently as we looked on from the brushy edge of the plot. Deer were everywhere with more appearing by the minute. The scene was a darkening beehive of whitetail activity.

At the far end of the semi circular green field we noticed a mature wide racked buck emerge from the brush and make his entrance, 300 plus yards out. A steady look through my 10 x 50 Leupold binocs braced on my Bog Pod revealed all I needed to see. The buck entering the field sported an impressive wide and heavy rack, at least a main frame 10, plus an extra brown tine at the left antler base. This buck was definitely mature, a definite shooter. At La Perla the qualifying age for a trophy buck is no less than 6 years old. This big guy easily made that grade. It was only a matter of shot distance that kept me from shooting right away. We watched on as darkness fell then we slowly departed, quietly, with grand anticipation of the next hunting day. Hopefully we would see this buck again, and maybe next time he would be at a comfortable shooting distance.

We awoke the following morning to another wet and soggy state of affairs. Light rain had fallen most of the night. I would be hunting with Gary Schwarz this morning. We were going rattling. No telling what might show up to the sound of Gary`s rattling antlers clashing in the wet morning brush. Although we were all confident that the big 10 point we had seen the first afternoon was our probable target buck, Gary suggested that we explore some of his favorite rattling locations on foot to see what else may turn up. If Gary and I failed to take a trophy Jeremy and I would be back at the food plot late in the afternoon. Great plan!

Gary smacked the antlers together to begin our first rattling sequence just after first light. He broke brush and gave the entire whitetail community within earshot a serenade of bruising whitetail buck war tones with an extremely massive set of shed antlers. David Morris guaranteed action if I hunted with Gary. David, as usual, was right on target. Our first rattling sequence exposed a mature 8 point that would be considered a trophy on many ranches. The big 8 strolled in to investigate the raucous. Gary whispered “shoot that buck, good management buck”. I took careful aim on the Bog Pod and squeezed off a .270 WSM Winchester Supreme 140 grain Accubond with the deadly intent at the buck, only 80 yards away. Recoil, the buck disappeared.

Without hesitation Gary immediately exalted “you missed him!” and further, “how did you miss that shot?” I bought Gary`s show lock stock and barrel, and sat quietly embarrassed trying think of a good answer. But when I blow a shot there just isn`t a good answer. Gary kept on, “how do you feel about that shot?”, “I can`t believe you missed that buck.” I felt good about the shot but Gary had me 100% convinced that I had failed to score. I was speechless. Only a few more silent moments later Gary slapped me on the back and said, “let’s go check out your buck.” We recovered the mature 8-point management buck only 50 yards from where he stood for the shot. My shot was a good one. Thanks Gary, I owe you one!

Still early and with a fine 8 point management buck in the bag we relocated to another of Gary`s favorite rattling spots. We set up with great visibility downwind in search of a great La Perla trophy. Only minutes into this rattling sequence a young 10-point and two smaller bucks jogged in to investigate. But no shooters. Next I was able to do a bit of mid-morning spot and stalk still-hunting. Areas of La Perla provide the ideal combination of cover, senderos, and open country - all the terrain ingredients for exciting spot and stalk scenarios. We snuck into range of a handful of good mature bucks, one very impressive 6-point cull buck, but no bucks of trophy proportions presented themselves. One extremely wide and heavy beamed impressive 8 pointer was a suspect and the best buck we encountered. The morning had been an exciting and successful effort. But during all this action Jeremy and I felt we would likely be back at the big food plot late in the afternoon in hopes of taking the wide double brow tine 10 point.

We began afternoon hunt on foot and by checking some of La Perla`s many senderos which so often produce such wonderful surprises as you peer around the corner. We saw several good bucks but nothing in the class that we were hunting. We scheduled our afternoon in order that we arrive down wind of the large winter food plot with hope that we would find our buck. Many deer had already assembled when we arrived. 200 or so Canadian Snow Geese were on hand as well. There was a great mature 9-point buck and several small bucks present along with several does and yearlings.

Around 5:20 PM we spotted our big 10 as he emerged from the brush at the edge of the food plot. He carefully surveyed the scene before walking comfortably and alert into the far end of the field. He began to feed, again way out there, 325 yards away according to the Leupold laser range finder. Suddenly, for no obvious reason, the buck picked up his head and his pace. He trotted directly toward us and into range in the middle of the field and stopped and stared, 150 yards out. The buck was focused on one of the many does that fed contently nearby. Jeremy had the camera rolling on the buck, all the while as the big trophy whitetail made his approach. Now the buck stood motionless only 150 yards away. I was steady and ready on the Bog Pod, crosshairs solid on the buck`s vitals. Jeremy asked for more time to video. With heart pounding, “let me shoot him!” was my final plea to Jeremy. He agreed. The hammer fell and so did my magnificent La Perla trophy amidst a simultaneous blast off of the enormous flock of geese that had been eagerly competing for the tender green sprouts of Tecomate protein.

To say I was excited would be a huge understatement. My 7-year-old La Perla buck sported a magnificent 10-point main frame and a total 15 measurable points, 161 B&C gross. The cluster of mass and character at the base of the buck’s left antler included an extra brow tine with two kickers. Jeremy and I celebrated in the field and then shared what I always consider one of the most special privileges in trophy whitetail hunting - the ride back to the camp, savoring the moment, buck in the back of the Ford F150, anticipating celebration of the successful taking of a great trophy buck with great friends!

Thank you Gary Schwarz and David Morris! What a feeling! What a buck! What a blessing!

Posted by David Shashy

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