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December Deer Are Different
Wise to the fact that they're being hunted, East Texas whitetails aren't likely to slip up once December rolls around. here are some time-tested tips to help you score now. (December 2007) ... [+] Full Article
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Texas Sportsman
A 200-Inch Trophy

Fog compounded things for Coleman and his buddies during their first morning hunt. "The ranch has ground blinds, and they also use vehicles with elevated blinds," he explained. "We were all in those vehicles with our guides, moving slowly along senderos looking for good bucks. It was the very beginning of the rut, and we also had the chance to try rattling."

As that first morning hunt unfolded, the Rucio revealed only its healthy population of bucks in the 130-to-140 class to Coleman -- until 9:30. "I caught a glimpse of a big buck through the fog," he said. "This was a 170-class buck, no doubt. But there was no way to get a good shot, and he disappeared. I ended up rattling in several bucks after that, but this big boy never came back."

Coleman and his guide returned to camp for lunch, and the hunters compared notes again. Everyone had seen a number of bucks up to 140, but only Coleman had seen a deer that might reach record-book dimensions. His hopes fueled by the sighting, Coleman decided to stick with the Rucio section of the ranch and to get back out there quickly.

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"I was ready to go back out at 12:45," he said. "It was hot, and that definitely was early, but I knew there were big bucks on that side of the ranch. I wasn't going to see them sitting at the lodge."

Heading out for the afternoon, Coleman and his guide, Adam Braune, made their way to a crossroads of sorts, the intersection of two senderos that provided shooting opportunities in four directions. The pair had the chance to play the wind from there, and had enough edge cover to get concealed.

"We were all set up by 2:30, and deer started coming out," Coleman said. "But they were very skittish for some reason. It finally occurred to me what might be going on.

"These ranch trucks have feeders attached that the guides use, and I thought maybe the bright sun reflecting off the feeder could be making the deer even more nervous than they already were," the hunter explained. "So I took my Realtree shirt off and covered the feeder with it. They did seem to calm down a little after that."

Through the afternoon, Coleman and his guide saw upwards of 20 deer from their position, just inside the brush at the sendero crossroads. Then 4:30 arrived.

"It was like someone flicked a switch," Coleman said. "We had deer in all four directions on the senderos . . . lots of them. I let a pretty good 13-point buck walk because I knew there were bigger deer in the area. They had seen a 180-class buck before we arrived, and I thought I might get a look at him."

He didn't. Another buck showed up instead.

"There was a white stake at the edge of the sendero he walked into that was 200 yards from where we were sitting," Coleman said. "When he walked out, I guessed he was another 200 yards beyond that stake. When I checked the rangefinder, he was standing there at 487 yards."

The buck fed in the sendero, albeit on edgy nerves. And Coleman had two mature does between him and the buck; they likely would spy the slightest movement and wreck any chance he might have to get a shot.

"I told Adam I could make a kind of stalk through the big mesquite," Coleman recalled. "I'd make a big loop and come out at the edge of the sendero by that white stake. That would give me a 200- to 250-yard shot."

After assuring his guide that (1) he wouldn't get lost in the thick, tangled, cover, and (2) that he could, indeed, make the shot, Coleman moved off as quickly as he could toward a chance at history. Practically every step added intensity to the moment.

"There were lots of doves roosted in that cover," he said, "and it seemed like seven or eight of them busted out of there every time I covered more than three or four steps. It worried me sick because I was afraid they'd spook those does on the sendero, and that would send the buck into a sprint.

"It occurred to me, though, that the deer worked through that stuff all the time, and that there were lots of other animals in there. I hoped that the deer didn't see anything unusual in doves flushing like that."

That time, at least, they didn't.

In only a few minutes -- though they admittedly passed like hours -- Coleman found himself at the edge of the sendero, just a few yards past that white stake.

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