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Ruth’s Ranch Record

ranch record

Ruth Spahn photo

Lady hunter takes big South Texas buck

By Jason Shipman

The Spahn family loves to hunt, and more specifically for big bucks. They enjoy spending time at their ranch regardless of whether they’re working or having fun. The Spahn’s ranch is ideally situated in La Salle County in an area historically known for producing trophy deer. Not exactly a coincidence, as the family did their homework when they set out to find a family hunting property years ago.

After landing in the right spot on a good property, what they did next was paramount. They set out to manage the ranch to its full potential and implemented a sound wildlife management program. Their goal was to produce the best native deer possible. As of late, Rex Spahn, along with his wife, Ruth, and their son, Ryan, have been reaping the rewards.

The hunting season of 2022-2023 was a great year for the ranch. Ryan started the season off by taking a huge non-typical buck that gross scored 196 4/8 for the new ranch record high score. A few weeks later, Rex took a beautiful typical buck that gross scored 196 1/8. These great bucks were featured in the November/December issue of The Journal. Overjoyed for their success, but not wanting to be outdone, Ruth set her focus on the 2023-2024 season.

The hunt begins

Early in October 2023, with MLDP hunting season barely getting started, Ruth had her eye on a giant buck. “We had been watching this buck, and he was always a big, clean 10-point. Every year he just kept getting bigger and bigger,” Ruth said. “We knew he was special, and it was time to take him. Lucky for me, both Rex and Ryan had taken good bucks the past season, and it was my turn to hunt a big deer.”

Ruth hunted hard for about three weeks without any sightings of the buck. Despite her best efforts, the old buck just wouldn’t cooperate. “I really wanted to get him before he broke his antlers fighting,” Ruth said. The last weekend of October was warm, but a cold front was on the way. “I was hopeful the change in weather would get the deer moving and my luck would improve,” Ruth said.

On Saturday, Oct. 28, a ranch guest spotted Ruth’s buck while sitting in one of the stands. Ruth had been hunting a different area, and the guest sighting of the big buck was just the break she needed. The next morning, Ruth was in the stand where the buck had been spotted. “I got to the blind well before daylight and sat there in the darkness, hoping and praying he was patterned and would be back,” Ruth said.

“As it began to get light, I could make out the shapes of deer feeding in the road. One of them was a big-bodied deer and after quite some time, I finally had enough light to identify him,” Ruth said. “It was the buck I was after. He was pretty close, maybe about 80 yards, and feeding in the sendero along with another nice buck and several does and fawns.”

Patience reaps a ranch record

Ruth watched the deer as they fed away from her. “I watched him for a while as I waited for better light and a clear shot,” she said. “Waiting and not rushing the shot actually helped, by giving me time to calm down and relax.”

The deer continued feeding away and after 20 minutes, they were some distance from the blind. A shot rang out from another hunter across the ranch and broke the morning silence. “All of the deer threw their heads up and became nervous. I prayed they would not bolt and thankfully after a while they went back to eating,” she said.

Realizing she didn’t want the opportunity to slip away, determination took over as Ruth prepared for a shot. “I was focused and waiting for a good broadside target,” she said. Finally, the big buck turned to his right and was clear of the other deer. “I had a solid rest and squeezed off a shot with my 6.5 Grendel,” she said.

Commotion erupted as deer ran everywhere. “I felt good about the shot, but the buck spun around and made it back into the brush.” She texted Ryan and waited for him to arrive.

Ryan showed up about 30 minutes later and together they walked down the sendero to have a look. Ruth’s aim had been true, and the big buck only made it about 20 yards before piling up in the thick brush. “As we walked up to him, I remember thinking he was so much bigger than I expected,” she said.

With a gross score of 199 4/8, Ruth’s buck now holds the title of Ranch Record.