The Rut Is Real.. It’s a whopping 3:30 AM and my alarm is blaring ... Any other day I’d hit snooze, but not today. It’s finally the opening day of rifle Whitetail season in Texas. I will finally be able to hunt my new deer lease for the first time, the Glass Ranch, located in West Texas. In preparation for the season, I’ve been checking my cameras often, and I knew I had what you would consider a couple shooter bucks ready to go. The temperature outside was great, frigid for Texas – and not my favorite for anything except hunting. But perfect weather to get the deer up and moving. As I sat in my blind, I watched the sun come up, listened to the birds awaken, and I watched an owl perched in the neighboring tree. I was in peace as a sat and listened to the amazing sound of them communicating with one another far off in the distance. I love these moments! With the sun up, I became anxious waiting and I had myself all worked up, ready to see any deer movement. Even a doe would be great! Already thinking about how I want to process my harvest ... I know, ‘counting my chickens before they hatch’. I’m guilty! When mid-morning comes and goes, I still haven’t seen a thing. No movement. Not sure what went wrong where. According to the game cameras, these deer are in this area religiously. They never miss a meal. So of course, opening day rolls around and they skip out – go figure. After a quick break for lunch and a reboot – I get myself back to my blind around three in the afternoon. Man, I couldn’t get back to my blind fast enough. Since the deer didn’t come in for the early morning feeding, I checked my camera while on lunch, only to find that ate ALL NIGHT. The dang deer pulled an all-nighter, and didn’t show up for my morning hunt. I hadn’t lost hope yet. It’s a cool crisp day, the deer could stroll through here midday, or even this evening. Anything is possible, it’s hunting, right? Plus, I brought my leftover pumpkins from home for the deer this time around. Talk about fresh food. I busted them on the ground in the feeding area so a deer couldn’t easily eat on the bounty. All afternoon I kept hearing gun shots on properties all around me – and I had mixed emotions. As excited as I was for the other hunters, I was beginning to get discouraged at the same time. LOL! By the time six pm rolls around, the feeder goes off and there are still no deer to speak of in my sights. I’ve heard a lot about the rut going on in other areas, and I thought there’s no way that it could have hit here with such a lack of activity. Boy, was I wrong. From out of nowhere, a doe comes, and minutes later a spike shows up on her tail. Okay, I have movement. Slowly, as a little time passes, more deer are moving in. My gun still propped up in the corner, my heart started beating as fast as if I was about to attempt to harvest my first deer. For the last 3 months I’ve had one doe and her two yearlings on my camera. As I sat, I counted seven does and yearlings prancing around where I can see them. Where have they been all this time? The bucks are finding their way into the area now as well. Necks stuck out, noses to the ground, and at a steady pace, they strategically placed themselves around the does. Like teenagers with raging hormones, these does cannot stay in one spot very long before being chased around by a buck. It seems the rut is on. Every doe and pretty much every yearling are being tailed. Even, if I wanted to get a shot off, I couldn’t. It was pure chaos. I was staring a circus at the feeder. Two does were on their back feet fighting by the feeder, I could hear the thumps from their hooves hitting each other. Bucks were keeping the other ones on their toes and moving around as well. They would run out of sight for a few minutes, and I would begin to panic that they were gone for good. Then a bit later a doe would come running back into view being chased by a buck. This went on with every deer there for about an hour. With dusk close – I could barely make out in the distance a rack and a thick neck. I had spotted a decent buck making his way in. In order to better see what I was looking at, I grabbed my binoculars. This buck was a fatty. I watched him slowly make his way closer. I repeat, slowly... It was like this buck knew the sun was going down and it would soon be too dark for me to hunt. Continuously watching his every move with my binoculars, he got distracted on his way to the feeder when he found a doe to chase. He went from moving at his own pace to a ping pong ball within two minutes. I had seen this buck on camera a lot in the past, actually since he was in velvet. He was a very interesting character, and a few things set him aside from the other deer. His body was HUGE and his antlers had amazing mass (in my opinion), but they weren’t symmetrical, or typical on both sides. In my opinion he was a fantastic buck, but on the other hand, did his genetics really need to be carried on? That was all the thought process I needed. Waiting for this beast to calm down for just a minute felt like an eternity. He was too focused on his trail, and I could not focus on him due to being all over the place. I was trying my best to keep my eye on him, but the other deer kept getting in the way. Before I knew it, I had a yearling about 20 yards from my blind, a ground blind mind you. I knew I could spook it off with one wrong move or sound. That meant that the rest of the deer may notice and run off too. I knew I had to be extra careful with moving around, and also extremely quiet doing so. Challenge excepted. All I could hear was my heart beating. It was beating me to death at this point! Trying to get set up to take a shot the first opportunity I got, I now have to take the yearlong in front of my blind into consideration and make sure that this little deer is NOT in the line of fire. My finger on the trigger, I’m watching him at 150 yards out. The buck I had been waiting to take a break for a while finally came to a stop for a split second – literally a split second! Thankfully missing the yearling that was standing right in front of my blind, my shot placement on the buck could not have been better. All of a sudden, I was shaking and my heartbeat seemed louder, like it was echoing across the entire Glass Ranch. I watched the buck run a few steps and fall. Done. The buck didn’t try to get back up and there was no struggling. Hallelujah!! I stayed in the blind giving him time. Out of probably 15 deer that were in sight all evening I’m pretty sure that only three ran off after I shot. They scattered for just a bit, but before I even realized it, the deer were right back to chasing each other. Oh mercy .. Another buck is trying to fight with the buck I had just shot. The circus seemed to continue. I was slowly trying to pull myself together and calm down to be able to get out of my blind to go check out my buck I just shot. I never expected these deer to stick around after hearing the loud gun shot. Especially a whitetail deer. I couldn’t get out of my blind fast enough to go check out this buck. These deer were gonna have to take this party someplace else. I was so excited, I could barely contain myself.
Getting my hands on that buck was a long time coming! He was beautiful. He was massive. He was so unique. He was a boss. To others he was a cull. To some he was a trophy. To me, out of the 15 trophies prancing around the field, I picked the best one for me. I shot a buck on a hunt that would always stick out in my mind before I ever seen him that evening. I was having the time of my life in that blind watching the deer in rut, feeling the excitement of what could still come wondering in, the shock of his first sighting, being mesmerized by his swollen neck and characteristics from off in a distance, seeing that he was an older buck who had served his whole purpose in life, he will now be serving my family and myself. This hunt and this deer is a story I’ll share with many for years to come. The next time I see a piece of this buck, I’ll be saying grace over him at dinner and thanking the Lord once again for this amazing memory, nourishment and opportunity to share with many.