Monday, December 6, 2010

"Hunting for Big Boy" - The Story of Randy Clark's 2010 Buck

The following account was written by my friend Jordan's dad, Randy, who harvested a very nice whitetail buck earlier this season. This is his story, as told by him:

Hunting for “Big Boy”

I have been hunting whitetail deer in Texas for 36 years and every season is a new adventure. The sport has changed dramatically since 1974; the equipment/technology, the techniques, the regulations and yes, even my attitude about almost every aspect of it. The last few years have been no exception.

I was not at all too happy about the 2009 deer season's antler restrictions on our small deer lease. After 13 years of hunting this lease, and thousands of digital pictures later, I knew my odds of harvesting a nice deer were just reduced to a mere minimal percentage. My son Jordan told me that it was an investment in the future. It still did not set well.

Last year, 2009, the game camera caught a deer that I can’t say was in any way a result of the new game management regulation, since the antler restrictions had not even gone through its first season, but none the less he was a very nice deer. We named him “Big Boy”.

(Before the season was over we had names for every 8 point and above on our game cameras.) Big Boy was a nice main frame 8 point with good mass, a small bump for a 5th point on his left side between the G3 and the tip and he also had a ¾” kicker on the left side G2. Wow, we were all in awe. He was technically a 10 point.

The 2009 season went by and the three of us, my son-in-law Brad, his father David and I never saw him. We all wondered if he would return in 2010 or if someone else would take him from the gene pool. In 1974 I would have possibly been left to a life time of not knowing the answer to this riddle, but in 2010, the answer was revealed in August when I got the first digital pictures from the game camera. There he was, unmistakably, “Big Boy”, looking every bit as good as the year before.

In the spirit of the new regulations, and equipped with the knowledge that it was “an investment in the future”, I purposed in my heart to not settle for anything less than “Big Boy” this season. Opening day came and so did “Tall Boy”, a nice 8 point, his brother “Tall Boy 2”, with a swept back G2 on the left side, a 6 point with no eye guards, a yearling buck and a few doe. Yep, I let them walk. Tall Boy would have been harvested in the previous years, and my season over, but not this year. “Big Boy” never showed up. Ironically he was at my feeder at 2:00am opening morning. I love those game cameras.

Opening weekend and the second Saturday of the season did not bring a glimpse of “Big Boy”. Had someone else seen him, shot him? This lease can be very frustrating. You can go an entire weekend and not see a single deer, turkey or hog and then the next time you go you may see all of the above and a Bobcat to boot. You just never know.

For years it has been a tradition for me, and other family members, to go to the deer lease on Thanksgiving morning and hunt until 10:00am. We have been doing this for 14 of 15 years on this lease. This year was no exception. It has always been my dream to shoot the big one and show up at the family Thanksgiving dinner with a trophy deer in the back of my truck. It didn’t happen this year either.

I had a real struggle at 4:00am Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving, as whether or not to get up and make the hour and a half trip to the lease. My motto: “if you’re not in the stand you will not see the deer”, so I got up to go and maximize my time in the woods. I get made fun of by some for staying in my stand all day long. Yep, I will get in my stand at 6:00am and get out at 6:10pm. I am equipped with all the necessary items to make it happen. My deer stand, often referred to by my sons and son-in-law as the “Hilton” makes it easy.

OK, so I got up, made the trip, entered my stand at 6:00am and fired up my heater. I reached under the curtains (camouflage netting), unlatched the windows and got things ready. While driving to the lease my truck thermometer showed it to be a balmy 24 degrees outside, but I am “toasty” warm in my stand and excited about my prospects. Would this be the day? I waited for the sun to rise while laying on my bench/bed and thought to myself, I hope I at least see something today.

At 10:00am I had not seen anything. My son Jordan, who is at his deer lease sitting on a ladder stand, texting me about freezing his rear off and shaking too bad to be quiet, was having the same results. I was warm and relaxed and decided to rest my eyes. An hour later I woke up in disbelief that I had slept that long. I scolded myself for my transgression and began to try and clear my vision. It took me the better part of 10 minutes to clear my eyes and get to where I could focus. I ate my lunch while scanning the timber line and by 11:35 was back to my serious mode of hunting intently.

You always know that in a matter of seconds things can go from serene to chaotic when you are hunting. I was thinking about the fact that my left and back side windows were still closed to restrict the cold air flow and how stupid that could prove out to be. I was thinking that on this lease it really didn’t matter anyway and especially today. Remember, I had not seen nothing, nada, zilch.

It is now high noon and from the left side of the north/front window I saw movement and immediately recognized from over a hundred yards away that Big Boy was on the scene. He had his head down and was in a quick trot, moving south down the tree line from my right to left. My immediate thought: “Why had I left that west window closed?” I quickly moved to open my back/south window in case he moved far enough towards the south that I could have a shot, but didn’t dare touch that west window and risk spooking him. Looking back on it he was not paying a bit of attention to me, he was looking for female companionship, so to speak, and probably would not have noticed.

He moved quickly down the tree line far enough for me to barely see him from the back window, but did not stop until I hit my grunt. I got on him but this was not a viable shot. He was tailing away and only offered the back of his neck, head and a rear end shot. I wisely did not take the shot.

He started going southwesterly into the woods away from me. I stuck my grunt out the north window, opposite the direction that I was seeing him, and grunted 3 times real hard. I saw his silhouette stop through the trees and got my gun ready again. Sure enough, he turned around and headed back out of the woods and towards the north from whence he came. Was this my lucky day? (I have no way of knowing if he heard those 3 grunts, but who really cares anyway, right.)

When he emerged from the woods he went about 15 yards and stopped partially behind some brush, approximately 65 yards from my stand. His head, neck and right shoulder were behind brush. The only shot was going to be high in the back and further aft than I would have liked, but I knew it was a good, clear shot. I squeezed off a round from my 243, and “Big Boy” disappeared. I did not see him run off and I did not see him fall. He simply disappeared.

I mentally marked the spot where he was last standing, waited a minute or two and exited the stand, hopeful to find him lying behind the brush. (This year I had changed from 80 grain PSP ammunition to a ballistic tip bullet, due to having a doe run off last year without leaving a blood trail to follow. I found her but felt lucky to have done so.) As I approached the brush I saw that my 95 grain Hornady Superformance ammunition had reached its intended mark and “Big Boy” lay there silent. I praised the Lord for such a magnificent creature and for His allowing me this good fortune.

“Big Boy” is a mature buck, probably 6 ½ years old, has good mass all the way to the tips and a uniqueness that makes him a trophy in my books. Yes, I am having him mounted; semi-sneak to the right to show off his left side uniqueness. He will go in a room beside the main frame 10 point I harvested in 1974, the only other deer I have had mounted.

You remember the technology comment at the beginning of this rather lengthy story? Well, after praising God, and I am serious about that, I whipped out my phone, took a picture, inserted it into a text message that read, “and just like that, Big Boy is off the market”. I sent it to my sons, son-in-law and eventually others. I am proud and can’t wait to see what the game camera’s reveal next season. Stay tuned.

Randy Clark
Sherman, Texas

Great story, Randy! Congratulations on an awesome buck! The fact that you passed on all those younger bucks will pay off next year! Oh, and I love those game cameras too!

1 comment:

Trey said...

good story and even better buck!!