Be Slow And Persistent For Big Bucks

Ron Spomer |

IMG_0956 This old warrior wore a rack with 20 tines. It taped roughly 150 inches in mass and length. That might not sound like much until you realize this was a del Carmen Mountain subspecies, a west Texas/Mexico border deer similar in size to the Coues deer of Arizona. The SCI world record non-typical scores about 168 inches. This old buck I took with Steve Jones of Backcountry Hunts could easily land in the top ten.

How did I get so lucky? You can see the hunt on an upcoming episode of Winchester World of Whitetail in 2016, but for now, here are a few details.

First, I hunted with an established outfitter with a solid reputation for leading hunters to game on big, private ranches in New Mexico and Texas where hunting pressure is controlled, and limited. Second, guides Steve Jones and Chuck Sharp know Carmen deer habitat and behavior, so we didn’t waste time in unproductive areas. Third, we glassed and glassed and glassed the area where they’d previously caught a glimpse of the buck we eventually took. They knew Carmen bucks are highly territorial, so we stuck with it. Persistence.

_MG_2702Fourth, we didn’t give up. Despite seeing nothing in the area, we returned and kept glassing. Fifth, when Steve finally located the buck more than 650 yards away, we didn’t risk a long shot. Sixth, we didn’t rush in to close the distance while the buck tested and chased six does for an hour. Stalking close to an old buck is tough enough. Adding six sets of doe ears, noses and eyes in the mix makes it nearly impossible. So we waited. Patience.

Seventh, when we saw the buck lie down behind a cedar tree under the lip of a windy ridge, we studied the landscape and planned a stalk plus two alternative routes. Planning. Eight, we went slowly. The stalk stretched over 7 hours! Caution. We tiptoed within 60 yards, then backed out due to shifting breezes. When looping around to our alternative route, we went a half mile out of our way to avoid spooking unseen deer or letting any scent reach the buck.

Ninth, I carried a M70 rifle in .243 Winchester that I knew well and could operate practically on autopilot with both eyes tied behind my head. I was shooting Power Max Bonded bullets that I knew from experience would penetrate from nearly any angle. I turned the scope from 10X down to 4X in case a shot came quickly at close range. Tenth, we walked more slowly than turtles while closing the last 400 yards. Stealth.

Eleventh, we didn’t panic when we couldn’t relocate the buck as we jockeyed for a position that would offer a shot. Twelfth, we didn’t panic when we gently bumped three mule deer does and they walked within 30 yards of the bedded buck! Because we were moving so slowly and sat down when we spotted those does, they never panicked, either.

Thirteenth (good grief, 13th?), when within 140 yards of the tree where we hoped the buck was still lying, we waited for two hours for the buck to stand. Fourteenth, we tried getting him to show himself by grunting and bleating. When that didn’t work, we tried rattling. That got him up and moving, but away from us rather than toward us.

Fifteenth, we got aggressive and quickly stalked the slowly moving buck as he picked his way through brushy cover and over broken ground, disappearing in and out of little draws. Sixteenth, I didn’t try risky head and neck shots through limbs and brush. Seventeenth, when a clear shot opened at close range, I took it quickly and decisively, offhand. No wasted time, noise and motion fiddling with bipods or looking for a rest.

_MG_2784            The result, as the pictures show, was just what we wanted. Patience, persistence, caution, control, the right gear and decisive action at the right time. Those are some of the things needed to take a trophy buck. But being in the right place — where a big buck actually lives — is most important. That’s why we hunters must continue to learn about whitetails and what makes for a strong, healthy herd. It’s why we must encourage wildlife managers to advance hunting regulations that manage for an age-balanced, sex-balanced herd. Each of us must keep studying, keep learning, keep training to be the best hunters and rifle shooters we possibly can be. Do this and I’ll bet you’ll get your special buck a lot sooner than the 48 years it took me to get mine.

Tune in to Winchester World of Whitetail TV next summer and watch the hunt for this spectacular buck unfold.

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