It was the change in weather that made me go to the tripod stand by the river. A cold front had blown through on Monday the 14th, bringing gusty 20-30 mph winds from the north and a drop in high temperatures of 20 degrees. The morning of the 15th broke low in the 40s with wind chills in the 30s. It had been two weeks since I’d hunted that stand by the creek. It was time to try again.
I made the 1½-mile hike down the canyon to the tripod stand at 5:45 p.m. Shortly after climbing aboard, six gobblers tempted me at 20 yards. I prefer venison in the fall and turkeys in the spring, so I let them walk.
At 6:45, a fine 10-point buck appeared up the draw 100 yards to the north. Cautiously, he came my way until he was posing at 20 yards. I recognized him from the previous year. In low deer density areas like that river corridor in the Texas Panhandle, you get to know specific bucks because there are not that many. The previous year he was about the same size and I saw him several times.
His rack had long tines, but a narrow spread. I’d guess his rack around 140 inches. I thought about it for a long while, but decided that the 4½-year-old needed more time. Maybe if it rains next spring, his rack will make a big jump. He was gone a short time later and I instantly started to question my decision.
It was sunset, 7:11, when I spied two deer up the river headed my direction. Through the 10X Leupold binoculars I saw that the lead buck was the one I’d seen before the season, through my spotting scope and on trail camera pictures: a mature 8-point with matching kickers on his G-2s. He was coming on a string, with a small 4-pointer trailing him.
For the longest time he would not give me the right angle. Finally, at 7:26, with daylight fading, he turned at 18 yards. My 64-pound Hoyt drove the 400-grain carbon shaft tipped with a solid 3-blade VPA Terminator broadhead into his spine, dropping him instantly. A follow-up shot through the ribs ended it quickly.
This regal buck had survived through epic droughts, bitter winter storms and evaded coyotes for 5-6 years. It was humbling to hold an animal that had lived through so much.
His live weight was probably around 200 pounds. His main-frame 8-point rack carried one extra kicker off the left side base and a measurable kicker off both G-2s, making him an 11-pointer. He has long beams, 25 inches. His longest G-2 measures about 12 inches. Wih the extra points, I’m guessing he will have 150 inches of antler.
Did I mention I shot the buck on my birthday? A first in my life, if memory serves me.
It was well after dark by the time my friend Jim showed up with the four-wheeler. The shining lights of the quad weaving its way down the canyon road was a welcome sight.
And just like that, thanks mostly to a change in the weather, I believe, my first deer tag is punched. Of course I’m excited for the big rack, but my girls are more excited for the venison sausage we will have this winter.