Editors Blog

A Monster Buck Pays a Visit

D&DH Editor Dan Schmidt is all smiles after bagging this 6-1/2-year-old buck at Vatoville Outdoors free-ranging ranch near Sonora, Texas.

Just like it has happened so many times before, the deer showed up rather unexpectedly, and, of course, from an area where I didn’t expect to see a deer appear. This hunt was a also a little different than the thousands of others I’ve experienced over the years. Instead of being a man alone with his thoughts on a deer stand, I had an audience.

The location was perfect: a comfortable blind overlooking some beautiful brush-choked west-central Texas ground.  Yes, there was a feed station about 120 yards away. When morning light filtered across the landscape, deer appeared. They drifted in and out of the brush, nibbling grain and feeling their oats. Young bucks chased does, and skittish does stepped around as if they were trying to avoid land mines.

The rut was on, and it was a scene to behold. Then it happened.

Glancing to my right, a direction we did not expect to see a deer appear because it was close to the cattle road that we drove in on, I instantly saw a tine protruding from the middle of a dead cedar. Those was no mistaking it; it was at least a foot long, and it was pointing straight toward the sky.

“Big buck!” I gasped as videographer Jay Ellioff instantly whirled and started taping the deer. The buck was only 75 yards away, and he wasted no time in surveying the scene. With a single flick of his tail, the buck deemed the coast was clear, and he made his way toward a small group of does near the feed station.

My heartbeat instantly went into overdrive, and my breathing became labored. Sure signs of buck fever, I know, but it was kind of hard to prevent it.

We watched the deer for a long time as he poked around the feed station. I’ve had similar encounters on big deer while bowhunting food plots over the years. Waiting, waiting, waiting for that perfect shot opportunity. I wouldn’t have to wait for long today, however, because this 7 mm Mag was way more than enough gun for this whitetail. In that regard, gun-hunting is a bit anti-climactic. But I will never complain about making quick, clean kills.

“Dan … Dan!” Jay whispered as the buck stood stationary about 130 yards out. “You need to calm down; I can hear your heart pounding in my headset.”

Putting my binoculars down for a moment, I took several deep breaths and exhaled slowly. “Don’t look at the antlers,” I told myself. “Just make the shot.”

Finally, the buck moved into a wide-open spot. I instantly melted into the gun’s stock and placed the scope’s cross-hairs dead center on his shoulder blade.

POW! At the shot, the buck folded instantly.

The hunt was over, but the celebration had just begun.

— This concludes this series on Dan’s Texas hunt. Check back tomorrow, however, for a fun slide show of all the sights and scenes from the Vatoville experience.

Part 4: If This is a Cull Buck, I’m Davy Crockett

Part 3: Big Buck Down on the Texas Ground

Part 2: Scorched Earth and Rutting Bucks

Part 1: The 5 Dirtiest Words You Can Hear at Deer Camp


Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity.

Under Armour Apparel.

Kowa binoculars.

Nikon Monarch scope.     Muck Boots     Remington Model 700 rifle.

Norma Oryx Ammo