Every hunter dreams of going down to south Texas to hunt a Muy Grande Whitetail. I am no different. So, when I got the call from one of my good buddies to see if I wanted to head down to Cotulla, Texas (just south of San Antonio), I didn’t hesitate to book my flight. I normally hunt in northern Virginia and we have the occasional trophy buck, but over the last couple years, the hunting had been extremely slow. Whether it was subpar weather or a loss of our better hunting properties, I couldn’t wait for the trip. The ranch we were hunting was a 10,000 acre spot in Cotulla, Texas, smack dab in the heart of south Texas deer country. Driving into the ranch, we saw ton of nice deer, and the best part was that they were on the move. If you have ever hunted south Texas, you know that there are a lot of deer but if they don’t move, you won’t see them. The hacienda we stayed at was more like a 5 star resort! It didn’t feel much like hunting camp, but I’m definitely not complaining.
We all sat down with the ranch manager and went over what each of us were there to hunt. I was the only one hunting for a trophy buck and the rest of the guys were after javelin, pigs, and management does. I told our guide I was looking for a buck in the 150’s. He told me that that wouldn’t be a problem, and we started looking over some scouting camera pictures. We scanned through picture after picture until I found a few that I really liked and that we both agreed would fall in that mid 150 range. I was really impressed on how this guide had done his homework. He had been scouting a certain deer for a week or so and he believed that he would be able to get me an opportunity at him.
That evening we got in the stand for a few hours to scout areas that we thought we might have a crack at the deer we were looking for. It was a box blind overlooking a pond on one side of a road and a large opening leading down a sendero (or “trail”) on the other with a feeder about 200 yards away. I’m not a huge fan of hunting with feeders, but, with how thick the country is in south Texas, without them you might not see any deer at all. It was slow for the first couple of hours and then it started to pick up. The first buck I saw looked to be a mature 12 point that I definitely wouldn’t have even questioned shooting if it weren’t the first day. I took a few pictures of him through my binoculars using my iPhone and waited to see what else might come around. That evening we probably saw 20 deer, mostly does and a few small bucks, but no other shooters. That might have been different, but, about 45 minutes before dark, a herd of buffalo came running right by the tree stand and scared everything, including the guide and myself, half to death! We headed back to camp to grab dinner and a few cold ones with the boys.
We went over the pictures that I had taken of the deer and the ranch manager just started laughing… It was the deer that he had tried to put me on from the get go! He told me that the week before we had shown up, he had put another guy on the same deer and it never showed except for at 500 yards at the opposite end of the sendero. I knew that there were plenty of shooter deer on the ranch but it still bothered me none-the-less.
The next morning, I woke up about an hour before everyone else and was ready to go. My guide and I got into the stand about an hour and a half before sunrise and this time brought the photos with us to make a correct ID if he decided to show up again. Right before sunrise, I looked under the feeder and saw a big shadow. I just knew it was the buck I was looking for. I nudged my guide awake from his snoring slumber and we both spent the next 45 minutes waiting to get a good look at the deer. Finally, I got a good look at him and it was on. I hadn’t had much buck fever up until this point because I wasn’t behind the gun. The buck was standing inside the feeder pen and I didn’t want to risk hitting a wire and not getting a clean hit. I was shooting my buddies .300 win short mag. and I knew it would reach out plenty enough if the deer decided to jump out to the far side. I waited for about 30 minutes and, suddenly, the buck spooked! A small 6 point buck was running a hot doe and caught the attention of the dominant buck we were looking at. He picked his head up and jumped out of the pen and took a few hard steps in the direction of the other deer. My guide told me to take him because he was getting ready to run! I put the crosshairs behind the shoulder and squeezed off a round. The deer jumped and came hauling tail right at the stand. I put another round in the chamber and tried to get off another shot but the buck was moving too fast. The buck was standing at about 250 yards when I shot and I knew I had gotten off a good one but with that much fire power it looked like I had missed. The guide looked at me as if to tell me I had missed but knew I did not want to hear it. We sat for about an hour and then finally decided to go check things out.
I walked down to the spot the deep was standing and couldn’t find anything. At this point, I assumed I had missed because a .300 win mag. usually leaves a pretty good blood trail if the deer is hit at all. But, before I gave up, I started walking the path back to the stand that the deer had run when it was hit. About 20 yards from where the deer had been standing was a few specks of blood and then more a few feet further. I followed the blood trail into the brush and the buck had dropped not 30 yards from the stand! I had hit the deer right behind the shoulder and couldn’t have placed it any better but these Texas deer are tough! The buck was a beautiful, 4 year old, 13 point and scored right at the 150” mark. Of course, all the guys texted me to see what I had shot, and, of course, I told them I had missed! We drove by and picked each guy up, one by one, and each of them saw the rack sticking out of the bed of the truck!
To me the best part of the hunt is getting to spend the time with your best buddies and this buck was just the icing on the cake. We took pictures and went inside to celebrate the hunt with a hot breakfast. Needless to say, we have already planned our next get-together down in Cotulla, Texas and, next time, I have a feeling more guys will be looking for their own Muy Grande!