Take for example Leverett’s Chapel’s Colby Shaw. The 15-year-old took his first buck, which also happened to be his first deer, Sunday hunting with his dad, Jeremy, on a tiny 40-acre Rusk County lease.
It was just three weeks earlier the Shaws got permission to hunt the pipeline right-of-way tract. They had built a ground blind, but hadn’t gotten around to putting up a feeder prior to last weekend’s youth-only season.
“I was putting corn out on the ground in a spot the deer were coming out. I had put out two 40 pound bags,” said Jeremy Shaw.
He also had put out a game camera, but hadn’t got a picture of anything exciting.
Saturday’s hunt was slow with only a half-dozen doe showing up all day, all of which detected the Shaws’ position.
The next day was just as long and looked like it was going to be just as unproductive until shortly before last light. That was when a buck sporting a 20-point non-typical rack walked out.
“He came in from behind us and was angling away. He was headed to that spot where I had put the corn,” Shaw said.
“I couldn’t tell he was a big monstrous buck,” said the high school freshman Friday night from the sideline of his football game. “I just thought it was a 13-point and wasn’t really excited.”
When the two walked up on the buck instead of ground shrinkage they discovered ground swell. Colby had a different attitude.
“My heart started just racing,” he said.
The buck was so non-typical that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist and Boone & Crocket scorer Charles Muller called in help to “green” score the buck. They ended up with a 216 6/8 gross score and a 202 7/8 net. It should be more than enough that the deer should qualify for B&C’s All Time records requiring a minimum of 195 after the mandatory 60-day scoring period.
Although the buck surprised the Shaws, it didn’t Don Neuendorff at the Texas AgriLife Extension & Research Center in Overton.
Working with Dr. Billy Higginbotham, TAES wildlife specialist, on a wild pig research project, Neuendorff had game cameras running on a landowner’s property a mile or two from the Shaws’ lease.
“He caught the buck on film,” Higginbotham said. “He had it in August and throughout September. It disappeared the fourth or fifth of October.”
“He was running with some other bucks. It is typical that the bucks break up, but I would say it is a little later than usual, but he was running with the other bucks dating back to summer,” said Higginbotham.
Based on the fact the deer wasn’t on any pictures on the Shaws’ camera, the biologist suspects it had just wandered on to the property and into range.
“They were just at the right place at the right time,” Higginbotham said. He estimated the buck at either 3½ or 4½. Others have suggested it could have been as old as 6½ years old.
While bucks stay in a home range most of the year, when the rut kicks in they can travel miles in search of a hot doe. This buck, having traveled a mile or two, wouldn’t be considered a big traveler, but he was probably on the move just the same.
“I think you have different kinds of deer. Bucks that are 1½ have the wanderers, ‘where am I and what am I doing’. They are just looking for a doe and dispersing,” Higginbotham said.
“As they mature, some lock down and become homebodies and some start moving to look for does. They are as individual as people. Some are going to go to the same bar every night and others are going to go from bar to bar,” he added.
Because of that traveling nature, Higginbotham said it can be frustrating for hunters on small tracts that attempt to allow deer to mature or see good bucks before the season, but not during. He said some of the old outlook of “if I don’t shoot him someone else will” has been mitigated with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s 13-inch inside spread rule in some counties.
For Colby Shaw there rightfully is no remorse.
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