If you’re looking for a hunting story that waxes poetic about a glut of carefully managed trophy bucks pursued by even more careful hunters, then you’re going to have to look elsewhere.
This tale takes place in gritty Grimes County, Texas, a nondescript area in the eastern part of the state where giant bucks are few and far between. Most residents are regular, hard-working folks who will proudly tell visitors that actor Chuck Norris owns a ranch in the county.
Named for Jesse Grimes, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, Grimes County epitomizes hard deer hunting. High hunting pressure and an overabundance of meat hunters (including cougars, coyotes and wild hogs) mean most bucks don’t make it to maturity. Those that do are smart and can outwit even the most seasoned human hunters.
What makes this tale so worth telling is that millions of deer hunters can identify with the lead character, Kristen Klovenski of Plantersville, Texas. Klovenski is an average-Jill hunter who, year after year, quietly goes about her business. She’s not always successful, but always enjoys the carefully orchestrated pursuit of deer. After years of toil, on Nov. 15, 2016, Klovenski would be rewarded for all her dedication and hard work.
It was the second week of firearm deer season, and Klovenski had yet to fill her tag. Her afternoon hunt was delayed by the need to soothe her four-year-old son Sawyer, who was having a rough day. The weather was also unseasonably warm and in the 70s, which would reduce deer movements. Yet Klovenski couldn’t stop thinking about the buck she’d seen in a few game camera photos collected on her parents’ 100-acre spread.
“He first appeared in October with a couple of other bucks,” Klovenski said. “He was one of those bucks that you just don’t think will stick around.”
Her hunch proved spot-on. The buck only revisited the Klovenski farm once or twice before disappearing about a month before gun season opened.
Still, the buck had done its work: it had left a lasting impression on the hunter and her father, John Klovenski, who repeatedly advised his daughter to hold out for the big one. Kristen passed up two respectable eight-pointers, hoping against hope that the buck she’d nicknamed Big Boy would reappear.
After attending to her son, Klovenski hurried to her hunting tripod strategically placed in a hay field 30 yards from pine thickets. A blinding sun to her left (West) made monitoring a spot where deer often come from nearly impossible. But like a quiet hunting symphony played in a low key, the fireball in the sky began to decrescendo. Almost on cue, out walked Big Boy.
With its nose to the ground, the nine-pointer paid no attention to a corn feeder. It wasn’t breeding time, yet the deer was lost in whatever smells wisped from the ground. Klovenski raised her Remington .708, and let her shot usher in the rollicking finale, dropping the buck mere yards from her stand.
The 5 1/2-year-old is ancient for Grimes hunters. With an inside spread of 18 5/8 inches, the buck easily makes the county’s minimum inside spread requirement (13 inches). Twenty-two years ago, Klovenski’s father killed another Grimes County giant a few miles away, illustrating that sometimes it can take decades for one hunting conductor to pass the cold metal bullet baton to the next deer maestro.