As a whitetail deer hunter, you often have experiences that you find hard to describe, or explain. I had several of those occasions this past whitetail deer season, in the Lone Star State near Brady, Texas, but one stands above all, and will for years to come.
It all started the day after Thanksgiving. I had to work Thanksgiving night, so I got home early the next morning, and loaded my truck with all my hunting gear, with my mother and little brother Spencer joining me.
It was a cold twenty-four degrees, with misting rain and occasional snow flurries. This was the kind of weather Texas deer hunters dream about.
We started out on the 5-plus hour drive to Brady. When we arrived, it was about eleven o’ clock a.m. The weather had become increasingly worse the closer we got to camp.
Jumping out of my truck, I readied myself for the hunt and went into the camp house, just to see what other hunters had seen that morning.
My dad reported seeing several deer, and a big 7-point with a huge body. I didn’t think much about it, and headed to my ground blind.
Having arrived at the blind, I settled in for a long afternoon hunt. When I got into the blind, I tried to open the windows. The zippers were frozen shut.
After 15 minutes of struggle, the windows were finally open. An arrow was nocked; and the wait began.
It had only been a few moments after getting settled in, when four does came into the feeder. I thought about taking the larger doe, but decided to wait. The doe fed around for a while, but quickly left out of sight.
The next hour or so was very slow. Only a few birds, and a crazy armadillo. There was a lack of deer activity.
Suddenly, a huge body appeared in front of me.
The deer was less than 10 steps away. I could tell right away, it was a huge 7-point buck!
Could this be the buck my father had seen? Slowly, my bow came up, and I began to draw back. The buck was 7 steps away. I got just about to full draw, and the old buck looked right at me, and jumped the fence. I was heartbroken. This buck was awesome.
The buck was obviously mature, and the seven point rack just stole my heart. Sitting there for the next few hours, many deer were seen, but not that seven point.
I hunted hard for the next few days, but never saw him. The ice and snow continued for what seemed to be forever.A few does and several small bucks came and went. It was time to make a move.
Heading to the Marksberry blind (where our good friend Steven Marksberry usually hunted) it took only about five minutes, and eight does wasted no time coming in — a good start!
I sat there for the next hour or so, and saw over a dozen deer, but no shooters; the 7-point did not present himself. Finally, I caught a glimpse of a big body coming through the oaks.
When the buck appeared, it was immediately apparent that he was mature. The sights settled on him, and the shot released — perfect hit.
The buck ran about 35 yards, and piled up. It was a beautiful 5 ½ year old nine point buck. To say I was very proud to get him would be an understatement, but in the back of my mind, I still wanted that 7 point.
I hunted him hard for 2 weeks, and never saw him. It was now early December, and it was time to head back out to try to catch him off guard.
But as I neared camp, when my cell phone rang. It was my mother, and she told me that my Grandmother had been diagnosed with cancer.
In a heartbeat, I went from being pumped about my trip, to being devastated. Pulling over on the side of the road, my initial reaction was to turn around and go home, but then it hit me: My grandma wouldn’t want me to turn around, she would want me to go and get a big one!
I continued on, with much skepticism and arrived at camp, with less than ideal weather conditions. It was windy, and 88 degrees. Sitting in the blind I was sweating, and didn’t see anything for two hours.
The bad news that I had received on the way to camp hung over me. But then it happened: It was mere moments before dark, when he appeared, just as before — 5 yards away, dead in front of me — the big 7-point buck.
I couldn’t believe it. At full draw, the sights settled on him, and this time, he didn’t get away. The buck ran 40 yards, and was done.
Following an exciting shout, I sat back to reflect on the hunt. After a short wait, the buck was recovered. And what an animal he was: A 5 ½ year old, mature hill country buck.
Setting up my camera, dozens of photos were taken. As I sat there taking pictures, I said to myself, this buck is for you Grandma.
That’s when I set up my video camera, and described on film how the hunt had unfolded. Part of that dilogue was me dedicating the buck to my Grandma. A couple months later, my grandma came down. We all sat down, and I let her watch the video.
She instantly began to cry, and watched it over and over. She was absolutely honored that I had dedicated something that I cherish so much, to her.
As I sit writing this story, several months have passed. Thankfully, my grandmother is now cancer free, and is doing very well.
From the first time I saw this buck, I knew he was special. Little did I know how special he was.
To some people, dedicating a deer to your grandmother might sound silly. But to people like me who live for family, friends, and the outdoor experience, it is one of the highest honors imaginable.
I would like to thank my wonderful Grandmother, Betty Jean Patton, for being both the inspiration for this story, and for being such a wonderful grandmother. I am proud to say that this buck, which meant so much to me, ended up with the distinguished honor of being called,“ Grandma’s Buck.”
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