January 2010 Blog Location: South Texas

Dateline: 1/12/10 – Wow!!! What a season we have just completed in South Texas. The Bucks of Tecomate cameras covered hunts on El Cazador, El Tecomate, La Perla and Campos Veijos ranches, all managed under the Tecomate Management System! And on those hunts, we shot MONSTERS! So much happened, we’ll have to break it into two parts.

Part 1 – Wild South Texas Season on BoT
Where do I start? How about with the biggest buck I’ve ever shot, a whopping 205 on my own El Cazador Ranch! I first saw this buck on Reconyx camera photos back in August 2009. Then, I caught him again on the October camera survey … more than 2 miles from where he was photographed in August. Through I only had a handful of photos of him, I saw enough to know two things – 1) this buck was a giant and 2) I would devote my season to him. But, I also knew he would be tough to hunt since he could be anywhere in a two-plus mile swatch of countryside. From the photos, I figured he would score in the mid 180s. I was wrong!

The deer on my ranch are well-fed and healthy. Over 240 acres of Tecomate food plots see to that. As I’ve often said, well-fed deer are hard to hunt. They move on their own time schedule. Outside the rut, that means at night … or at best, very early and late. That is certainly the case on my ranch. It is hardy worthwhile to hunt there before the rutting urge starts to take hold in early December. That’s the reason we don’t hold our guest hunts there until early December, when the first urgings of the rut spur the bucks to move and travel in daylight hours.

Our first BoT hunts began on December 10 when Jamie Davis, president of Versus, and Jeff Macaluso, director of Field Sports for Versus, joined us for their second hunt on Cazador. I accompanied Jamie on what proved to be an eventful hunt. Jamie has boundless enthusiasm and is a fast learner. He savors all aspects of the experience and constantly seeks to improve his knowledge and skills. We had a great hunt and saw lots of good bucks. When the smoke cleared, Jamie had taken his best buck ever, a beautiful 150-plus 11-pointer! As always, Jamie is a delight to hunt with. It is great to know that the president of the network that is home to The Bucks of Tecomate is severely bitten with the whitetail bug! This will abundantly apparent when his hunt airs on The Bucks of Tecomate in the fall of 2010.

Jamie Davis, president of Versus, has every reason to smile about his great 150-plus 11-pointer!

Jeff Macaluso also shot a great buck, a classic 145 gross B&C 9-pointer. He hit the buck a bit low, and we had to call in the dogs. For that, we turned to Steve Scott in Edinburg, TX 78539 (956-369-2948). Three miles and much anxiety later, Steve’s dogs brought Jeff’s deer to bay and a memorable hunt was over. Like Jamie, Jeff is smitten by whitetails. He and most of the Versus folks love the sport and are committed to the industry, which is good news for all whitetail hunters.

Versus’ Field Sports Program Director, Jeff Macaluso, proudly shows off his 145 9-pointer.

With Jeff and Jamie both having bucks on the ground, I was anxious to start my hunt before the bucks started fighting and antlers started breaking. I knew which buck I wanted to hunt, but I had no idea where to hunt him. I figured the last place he was photographed on the Reconyx cameras back in October would be as good a place as any to start. That’s where I headed. My plan was to slip around, rattle, sneak the senderos and generally look over a lot of country in an attempt to find the buck I was after … or another monster buck that might usurp him, which is always a possibility on El Cazador.

When I hit the ground, the weather was perfect – cold, overcast, light winds. I was immediately into rut-distracted bucks. Good ones. I was working an area of the ranch called the Sandy Romadero. “Romadero” is Spanish for a big, broad drainage. The Sandy Romadero runs north and south for about two miles across the ranch and is a major feature of the landscape … and a big thick, roadless area loaded with big bucks. My plan was to work the downwind fringes of the romadero to avoid overly pressuring the bedding/living areas in the quarter-mile-wide drainage itself. I hoped to catch bucks running does, checking scrapes, feeding on adjoining food plots or senderos, or just traveling or loitering. And of course, I hoped to bring them into range or otherwise make them expose themselves by rattling and grunting.

Big, mature whitetails are seldom predictable. They just don’t play fair. But every once in a while, a plan works. This was one of those times. A couple of days into the hunt and after looking over a number of bucks I would have shot anywhere in the country (except on my ranch!), I caught a glimpse of a massive buck on the move. I got my Leupold binoculars on him just in time to know it was the buck I was after … before he disappeared into the thick romadero. I haunted the area the rest of the day, but he did not show himself again.

I’ve often said that finding a big buck is half the battle. While “half” may be an exaggeration, locating a big buck gives you a huge leg up on eventually taking him. My hopes were high the next day as I waited for daybreak about 300 yards south of where I had seen the buck the day before. My plan was to ease into the northwest wind slowly and try to catch the buck on the move … without being seen by any of the many deer in the area.

I began my stalk … slowly, carefully, quietly. Immediately, I began to see bucks. They were on the move, stirred by the rut and cold weather. I found myself “in the zone,” seeing deer before they saw me, getting the drop of them. As I neared the place I had seen the big buck the day before, I slowed the hunt even more. I eased along hardly daring to breathe. As I approached a sendero near the last place I had seen him, I scanned the brush with my Leupolds, hoping to see any nearby deer before bumping him or her with a careless move. The 10-power binoculars picked up the top part of a body, what seemed to be a big body, moving slowly through the brush and tall grass about 100 yards away. I held steady on the form. A few seconds later, a huge dark rack emerged from the grass, partially obscured by the brush. Though I wasn’t certain, I believed it was the buck I was after. I dropped to the ground to gather my wits and plan the hasty but careful approach I hoped would end in a shot.

Moments later, I made my move, needing to cover about 40 yards. The buck was tending a doe so he held as I eased, indeed, crawled, into position for the shot. When I got to within a few feet of where I felt I could take the shot, I peaked up from my prone position to see him staring my way. Clearly, he had seen me … or the cameraman (go figure). It was time to commit. The ticker was running on the time he was going to stand there. I only had seconds. Whether 2, 5, or 10, I did not know, but I intended to use no more of them than necessary. I popped the BogPod Shooting Sticks into place, put the Sako A7 Tecomate in the “V”, centered the crosshairs on the buck’s broad chest and loosed the 140-grain Accubond from the .270 WSM … and the buck ran like he had not been touched! A sick feeling welded up in my stomach!

I hurried to the place the buck was standing. Nothing … no blood, no hair, no nothing! I walked into the brush on the line the buck had taken. Still nothing. Twenty yards, 30 yards, 40, 50 and still nothing. I began to sweep the area. Still nothing, not for 75 yards around the spot the buck was standing. I was heart sick, knowing a fatally hit buck should not run more than 75 yards. Though I could picture the crosshairs on the buck’s chest, doubts flooded my mind. Had I hurried the shot? Had I jerked the shot off in my excitement? No, no … the sight picture was burned into my mind. With renewed conviction that I had hit the buck, I returned to the spot he was standing when I shot.

I studied the spot more closely now. In moments, I found a clear running track … then another … and another. Slowly, I followed the running tracks, finding one at a time and not moving ahead until guided by another. Soon, I was beyond my previous search area, still tracking. At about 100 yards from the starting point, I glanced up to see a most beautiful sight … a huge chocolate-colored beam looming just above the grass. I ran to the buck and dropped to my knees in awe of the animal and in appreciation to God for delivering him to me! As I pulled the massive head clear of the grass, I knew instantly that I was looking at the biggest buck I had ever taken! Words cannot capture the feeling of awe I felt at that moment. Once again, I was a little boy in South Alabama, filled with the wonder of it all.

The buck did indeed prove to be the biggest buck of a lifetime of hunting, a monster grossing over 205! Though I have been blessed to have taken over 30 bucks topping 170, this buck, grown and shot on MY ranch, will always be special … made even more so because I will share the experience with a few million of my closest friends next fall on The Bucks of Tecomate!

David’s 205, his biggest buck ever!

Part 2 – “Wild South Texas Season on BoT” to follow.

Posted by David Morris 

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