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Christmas is here and the 2010 deer season is drawing to a close. But before we close the door on Record Quest, I'm headed on one last deer hunt the day after Christmas—The Ford Ranch in Texas.
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Think you’re pretty good at judging the age of a whitetail deer as it feeds out of timber and gives you a good view of his antlers, the line of his back and the sag of his belly?
Well, it turns out you’re probably wrong.
A fascinating new study by Oklahoma’s Noble Foundation suggests that even trained deer observers are wrong about two-thirds of the time when asked to judge the age of deer on the hoof. [ Read Full Post ]
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In the last minutes of my last hour in Texas, it was do or die.
I did. The buck died.
I’d like to say there was skill involved. Or even some time’s-up heroics that put this Lone Star whitetail on the ground. But instead it was the tyranny of a deadline, and while he’s a fine buck by anyone’s measure, he wasn’t exactly the sort of deer I braved bad roads, cancelled airline flights and the hacking coughs of grumpy seatmates to kill. [ Read Full Post ]
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It's come down to this: I have a single hour tomorrow morning to kill a Texas buck.
I will be sitting in a box blind when the sun comes up at 7, and I have to either throw in the towel or use it to clean my bloody knife by 8 in order to drive to San Angelo for the flight home.
It's not that I haven't had opportunity. It's that I'm not satisfied killing any of the three dozen 115-inch bucks I've seen since Tuesday.
I've covered ground rattling - and today was epic, with nearly 20 bucks coming to the rattling antlers, sometimes three at a time. I've sat on stands at feeders where the guides say I'm guaranteed to see 8-point management bucks upward of 130. But all I've seen have been dinks. [ Read Full Post ]
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Almost at the very first clash of guide John Mayer's rattling antlers, we had action. A little buck sprinted to us on a brush-crashing, give-er-hell sprint, all the way to 20 yards before instinct trumped excitement and he reined in and stood before us, trembling with expectation and adrenaline.
He ran away, John rattled again, and another whitetail-this one a solid 4x4-ran in from the opposite direction, closing to 40 yards before he cut our scent and dissolved back in the West Texas cedar and low-slung live oak. [ Read Full Post ]
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You know you're in Texas when the pre-dawn planning includes this advisory from the outfitter: "The first feeder goes off at 7."
The second indication is in the box blind, when my partner, videographer and native Texan Darrin Abate, turns over his plastic chair and scans the underside with his flashlight. [ Read Full Post ]
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I had one last morning to get a buck and opted for a spot and stalk strategy. At dawn, I was positioned on a bluff overlooking a creek bottom and some alfalfa and hay fields. To either side were some draws and coulees the whitetails liked to lay up in during the day. With the wind blowing into my face the setup looked ideal.
I saw a few deer, including one good looking buck that walked along a far ridge before disappearing into the weeds. I wanted to get a better look at his rack but he didn’t oblige and never reemerged into view. [ Read Full Post ]