My Crazy-Cool Buck
October 9, 2018
Editorial Staff (266 articles)
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My Crazy-Cool Buck

By T.W. Wilkerson

T.C. Simmons and I have been friends hunting together for almost 20 years. We’ve only hunted at the Baker Hay Fields, about 60 acres just 30 minutes outside downtown Fort Worth, on and off for the past four years. For the 2016 season we put up a two-man ladder stand because I’d just learned how to shoot a bow that summer.

I was in a tree all season, including rifle, but had no deer. I got to draw on a coyote on Thanksgiving morning, but missed and that was it for 2016—nothing.

I went back in that treestand the following year on opening day of bow season, Sept. 30. And that day started one of my most memorable and best hunting seasons ever!

I’d seen a few good bucks on the trail cam, so I had picked out a big and tall eight-point I wanted to shoot. I got to see plenty of action all October for almost every sit, and I saw a bunch of does, some babies, a few eights, a nice 10, and some smaller deer.

I hunted from that treestand every Sunday and Monday morning and evening. I kept seeing good bucks on cam during night hours. But I never saw the big eight I wanted during the daylight hours.

November 1. The change from daylight savings time was coming. The leaves were gone, the grass was dead, and most of the first month the deer had moved on, but I saw some new, different bucks on the camera. My big eight was still around at night in November, but a new, crazy-looking cactus freak buck appeared on cam early morning.

His left side looked smashed up, like a cactus with points kicking out everywhere. On Nov. 2, he had some briar vines and thorns hanging from his left side. This is the craziest freak buck I’ve ever seen. Goodbye big eight, I’m hunting “Ol’ Cactus” for sure.

Rifle season was half way through, and I was just waiting on cold weather and the rut. I wondered when the chase would start because it was a week before Thanksgiving and I hadn’t had any action like back in October. On Nov. 18, T.C. and I hunted together for the first time all year, but we had no action that weekend. The bucks were still appearing on camera at night though.

After Thanksgiving

That Monday after Thanksgiving, I finally saw a little eight chasing a doe and another buck with forked antlers chasing in the hay field, but he wasn’t big enough. I went back to work, frustrated, wanting to leave work and get back to the hay fields, knowing the rut was still on, even with the 74-degree weather.

On Sunday, Dec. 3, I was up at 4:15, and at 4:20 I got ready to drive 45 minutes to the property. The full moon was still out, but I was in the treestand and set up by 5:45. I was so pumped up from the night before, I told my girlfriend I was going to get a deer. I didn’t care which one, but I was going to get a deer.

Before 6:15, I must’ve had five or six deer in front of me, but it was just too dark to see. The feeder went off at 6:30, and then I had good light by 7. I had one big-bodied deer come in the area, and push the others out. I’m guessing it was a good buck, so he stayed at the feeder, ate for little bit, and then disappeared into winter wheat fields.

Time clicks forward

Before the feeder went off, a big doe made her way over to it, but as soon as she put her nose up in it, it went off. She spooked and ran back down the lane she came from. That was exciting for 30 minutes, but then there was no action. At 7:30 I still had no movement. “Man, what is up?” I thought to myself.

I checked the time; it was 8 a.m., 60 degrees, with a 5-mph wind blowing out of the south on my neck. I faced north. Five minutes after that, I caught some movement in my peripheral vision to the left through some branches and limbs.

I could see a deer topping over a little hill. I grabbed my binos and saw him through the limbs. It took a couple looks, but I saw it was the cactus freak buck, and he came out in daylight. I set the binos down and grabbed my rifle.

He had his head up and walking at a fast pace, pretty steady and not missing a beat. He made a beeline across the hay field, not slowing down, not looking left or right, just straight ahead like he was on a mission.

Fighting buck fever

Buck fever had set in. I tried taking a couple good deep breaths while looking for the right opportunity, or a good place to stop him with a grunt. So as he kept moving through the hanging limbs, I let out a grunt, but he never flinched. He didn’t hear me because he still walked at a fast pace. I wasn’t loud enough.

I readied myself for the next opportunity to shoot him. I let out another grunt, but louder this time. He heard me, and he took a stutter-step to slow himself down. I had the scope on his shoulder, ready to fire.

The buck took one last step, stopped in a good position, looking back to his right, which was right in my direction. I shot him with my 7mm-08 Remington bolt action. No chase, no nerves kicking in, and no head jerks. I dropped him where he stood.

After the shot

T.C. and his wife finally arrived with the truck. I climbed out of the tree and met them where the cactus freak buck lay, right in the middle of the hay field, 86 yards away where I shot him.

Once we got our hands on the buck, we discovered barbed wire tangled around his antlers. The buck’s mid-chest down the center to the right side of his belly had a cut.

The cut looked barb deep, but had no trace of blood and wasn’t scabbed up. It looked almost like he’d got hung up and cut on a fence, or might have been fighting another buck and got thrown onto fence a couple days before I took him. Or maybe he rubbed his head and antlers on a t-post, and somehow caught himself through a loop in the barbed wire and got twisted up and stuck on a fence for who knows how long.

Everywhere I took this deer, people would say how he looks crazy-cool. Once the processor finished caping him out, I took him down to the taxidermist in Glen Rose. Steve, the owner/operator, mentioned being in the business for about 20 years and never seeing a deer come in with barbed wire wrapped around antlers. I told him I never have, either.

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