Journey To “The Big 8”
October 1, 2015
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Journey To “The Big 8”

The author and his buck. After traveling all around the country with my job in the oilfield, my family and I started looking to settle down in our hometown of Palestine, Texas. We bought a small 24-acre tract of land suitable for raising a few cows. The only true reason a guy wants land is to hunt deer. Once I had closed on the land, my wife had me in full-tilt, build-a-house mode, but I had other immediate intentions. I hurried out to our place and started putting up game cameras, and putting in some small food plots just hoping to see if there were any deer on the place. I was fortunate to have a larger neighbor, the Iron Gate Ranch, to my north that only allowed very minimal hunting. I let my cameras sit for a couple of weeks with each passing day killing me with anticipation to see what I had captured on my own land. I gathered up my SD cards, plugged the first one into my computer, and saw a gorgeous eight-point that looked 2 1/2 years old. Now I knew I had something to work with in the upcoming years. The second year I went through my same routine. I used protein feed all year, installed my food plots, and put very little pressure on the place. I started checking game cam pictures, and lo and behold, I had three shooter bucks on camera. I had tons of pictures of these bucks. One was a really large eight-point with 7-inch browtines. My daughter and I promptly named him “The Big 8.” We hunted the deer hard that year, but no one ever laid eyes on him during daylight hours. If you counted all the hunts I had for this deer, the score would have been 27-0 with the whitetail in the lead. During the summer of that second year my other neighbor, Quinton Rogers, who’s my best friend, found one of The Big 8’s sheds. He tended to his summer food plots when he saw it on the ground. I had shared the pictures of the deer with him, and he had it on his cameras as well. So the race was on to see who could take The Big 8 first. The only problem was no one had ever laid eyes on the deer. He was a ghost. That spring I planted about 6 acres of peas. Once they started popping out of the ground the deer just mowed them down. I had also started protein feeding that spring harder than usual due to the drought in East Texas. I still did not have the greatest hope going into the 2013 deer season. My third year of owning my place, the good Lord would open up his deer hunting blessings to me for the 2013 deer season. It started with an invitation to hunt with a buddy in Bowie, Texas. I took a 120-inch management eight-point with my bow on that hunt. From there I took my best bow kill ever, a 155-inch buck with my bow on my lease in north central Kansas. As I left Kansas and headed back to East Texas, I knew I would put every effort into hunting The Big 8 for the rest of the season, or as long as my wife would allow. When I finally did get home, it starting raining. For the next several days I waited for any break in the weather. Finally, the weather broke about noon on Nov. 23. I hurried home during a lunch break at work to put out some corn. My plan was to use my cameras to tell me when to go in and hunt this buck. It only took a couple of days and the buck showed up on my cameras at 3 p.m. He finally came out of hiding. I got off work early one day and pulled into my driveway at 3 p.m. on the nose. My daughter left school for the Thanksgiving break, so I told her to grab her hunting stuff and we’d get into the deer stand. She had a friend over, and told me, “No, you go ahead; we’re going to stay here.” She would be highly disappointed in that decision very shortly. So I ran into the house, grabbed my hunting clothes and rifle, and hustled to the back of my place. As I approached my deer stand I turned and looked to my left, and what do you know? The Big 8 stood over one of the piles of corn staring straight at me. My heart instantly stopped. I fumbled to get the scope caps open, knocking all the paint off my scope. I raised my gun, put the crosshairs behind the buck’s shoulder as best as I could under the circumstances, and squeezed the trigger. On Nov. 26, 2013, at 3 p.m. the three-year quest for The Big 8 finally ended. He had grown 15 inches that year, and end up scoring 143 with 10 ½-inch brow tines—just a perfect eight. I called my daughter to come pick me up on the four-wheeler. She asked me if I was OK. I told her I was fine just and to bring the four-wheeler. She pulled up at the end of our right of way, and the look on her face was priceless. I don’t think I will have any trouble getting her to the deer stand from now on.

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