Sometimes the best strategy for hunting a big deer is to be hardheaded.
Bobby Parker always has been hardheaded about it, and it has paid off with a number of big deer he’s killed on leases in South Texas and at the family ranch near Camp Verde in Central Texas.
Earlier this season, he killed a giant Hill Country buck there that had a gross score of just over 170 Boone and Crockett points. He hunted that deer — which I’d seen early in the rut but which had taken to hiding in cedar thickets during the day — almost every day for more than a week before getting a shot at him at the very end of the Christmas vacation.
But it’s those South Texas monsters that always drive his train, and Parker decided he wanted to kill one on a ranch of his own, with no high fence and totally wild genes as the main growth factors.
So earlier last year, Parker — along with his wife, Risa — purchased a ranch west of La Pryor, not far from where he killed his first really big buck many years ago. He began traveling south most weeks this year once deer season began, hoping to get a glimpse of a brute to hunt.
In early December, a friend called to say he’d been rattling near a large food plot on the ranch and had managed to fool a big buck he thought Parker might want to hunt. That precipitated a regular series of trips to the ranch, where Parker would sit in a tripod stand near the food plot for hours.
But no buck. By the time he started hunting regularly, the rut had kicked in and the buck apparently had followed does out of his territory.
“He left his area for a while and moved north,” Parker explained. “He was seen from another blind walking down a road with a doe.”
Parker had never seen the buck, though he had been hunting him since the weekend of December 15. Despite making multiple trips to the ranch and sitting for as many as 30 butt-numbing hours in the tripod, it wasn’t until the afternoon of Jan. 3 that he caught his first glimpse of the old-timer.
Unfortunately, that was a going-away view.
“It was the morning that it was 18 degrees down there, and I sat in a different blind for about 2½ hours that morning until the wind came up and I couldn’t take it anymore,” Parker said. “All the deer went to bed down, and I decided that I would go, too.”
“He was in that original food plot when I got there, and he took off,” Parker recalled of the sinking feeling he had. At 1:45 in the afternoon, after weeks of hunting, he had just seen the deer he wanted, but the buck had spooked.
Parker climbed into the blind just before 2 p.m. and settled in for several hours of waiting, watching and hoping.
Slowly the deer began to get over the interruption of their afternoon feeding routine, and a few trailed back into the field. Parker’s buck was among them, but he didn’t see him until he had passed through a group of does and was running a small bunch of bucks toward the other side of the clearing. It was just after 3 p.m.
“That was the first time I had seen the deer,” Parker said. But he felt hidden in his tripod and was going to wait until the buck gave him the best shot he could get. That gave him time to study the antlers the deer was carrying.
Think about this: 24-inch main beams, 10 points including two tines stretching to nearly 14 inches. Great mass and a frame that went almost straight up and then curled back inside. This was a brute, and he was slowly walking back out of the field and toward Parker’s tripod.
“I was watching him as he walked right toward me,” Parker recalled. At 220 yards, slightly quartered toward Parker’s left, the buck stopped and began to study Parker and the stand.
“I wanted to wait and see how close he would get, but when he stopped, I was worried that he might bolt and I’d never see him again. I decided to take the shot,” he said. “I had a really good rest and could hold the rifle steady, and so I took it.”
The buck dropped in his tracks, and Parker climbed down and sprinted across the field to lay his hands on those magnificent antlers. They were everything he had hoped they would be, and back at home, they totaled a gross score of 175 6/8 inches.
“I had killed bucks before that had higher gross scores,” Parker said, “but this will be my highest net score ever.” Regardless of the part of the state, hunters use the Boone and Crockett system to rate their deer, since it gives an overall impression of the buck’s antlers.
“The best thing was that he was just a surprise deer,” Parker said. “He grew up on that ranch without any supplemental feed or high fence. He grew on his own. That’s the best part.”