The Spanish oaks were a rust color, the cedar elms yellow and the sumac a vibrant red. Combined they broke up the otherwise monotone of green live oaks and brought color to the landscape.
And it was hot. Sixty degrees it registered on the truck thermometer driving to the stand on the 1,600-acre Star B Ranch.
Then from nowhere the buck appeared like they always do. One second nothing, then look again and there he was about to cross a road 200 yards away. Big enough to tell he was a buck, but far enough away to tell how good. I hoped to catch a better glimpse of him breaking into an opening as he angled away behind the brush in the valley below
But the old buck, war-torn from weeks of chasing does, surprised me for a second time and wandered to a feeder a hundred yards away. There he joined a broken-tined, forked-antlered buck and a couple of doe for a morning snack of corn.
I watched the deer, laughing when he walked directly under the feeder in search of one of the few remaining kernels. I snapped a few pictures, but at 100 yards the 11-point was little more than a dot even with a 200mm lense.
Unable to find any more corn, the deer turned and started up the hill toward another feeder sitting a hundred yards to the north of the stand. As it walked I periodically took its picture. Certain the buck would run at any moment, I only took a picture or two then stopped.
The sound of the camera shutter certainly interested the buck. Each time it snapped, he would stop and look, but he wouldn’t run off.
I took more pictures. He stopped, looked and then started walking again, getting closer with each step.
Behind some brush, he changed course away from the feeder and closer to my stand. It would only be later when I got out that I realized the buck had left the normal game trail that had been forged by deer moving between the two feeders and was freelancing in a new direction.
I got in position to take more pictures when he cleared the brush. At that point he would be less than 50 yards away, and I figured any sound was going to scare the buck off. Once in the open I started firing away with the motor drive whirling.
Then I realized the camera sound didn’t bother him. In fact he was intrigued and drawn to it.
I had just rattled up a buck using a camera.
He stood and looked my direction and beyond for what he thought was a fight. A young buck at the feeder startled him, and he made a quick charging move, but then returned his attention to the camera sound, looking for the imaginary bucks causing it.
Looking at it through binoculars, I estimated the buck would go 150 to 160 inches. A trophy now, but potentially even better in a year or two.
It was one of those experiences I would not have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes.
Under the right circumstances almost anything can be used to rattle in a buck. It looks like that includes a camera.
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