What Defines a Trophy Buck?

The author with one of his trophies.

by Bryan Hendricks

To me, the definition of trophy entails other things besides antler size.

Above my desk, for example, is the rack of a 9-point whitetail I killed at Turley Ranch in Roger Mills County, Okla. The rack was beautiful, maybe 120 B&C, but the circumstances made it special.

Turley Ranch covers about 25,000 acres, part of which encompasses a section of the Washita River where George Custer mustered his Seventh Cavalry on Nov. 27, 1868, for what is now known as the Battle of the Washita River. Windle Turley manages his ranch for trophy whitetails, and an evening at one of his big rye and wheat fields is like being in a fantasy deer hunting magazine cover.

Turley opened it for hunting in 2007, when he realized his herd needed some active management, and he invited me as his first guest. Turley allowed me to kill one “management” buck and a doe during the 2007 muzzleloader season, but he still had misgivings. While sharing a sumptuous steak dinner at his guest house. He said, “I’m really glad you’re here, and I hope you have a great time, but I hope the deer win.”

It seemed that they would until the 9-point got a little too close at the edge of a big rye field late one evening. Much bigger bucks dwell on that ranch, and it has since been featured extensively. But there will only be one “first.”