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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
Giant Bucks Of The Pines & Post Oak

The 6 1/2-year-old buck was easy to recognize by its rack sporting long beams, tall tines and gobs of mass. The gross score is 164 2/8, the net 162 4/8.

The Nacogdoches hunter stepped outside the club's high fence to collect his second buck, a 14-pointer that grosses 157 4/8, 152 4/8 net.

A cold front raced across eastern Texas on the afternoon of Nov. 11, and the woods around the Piney Ridge Hunting Club were rocking to the beat of a blustery north wind. It was a crappy afternoon to be in a deer stand. But Chris Ricks of Corrigan, and his 11-year-old son, Kaden, gave it a shot anyway.

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And good thing they did: Their hunt culminated in one of those memorable father-son affairs that every dad dreams about.

"A buddy of mine had seen a 7-pointer at this stand earlier in the day and suggested I take Kaden back there in the afternoon to try to get a shot at him," the elder Ricks said. "The wind was terrible, but we decided we might as well go hunting instead of sitting around at camp."

The younger Ricks didn't last long. The rocking of the blind and the cool air made the youth sleepy. He eventually curled up at his dad's feet for a short power nap. "I told him I would wake him up if I saw something," Ricks said. "It wasn't long before he was out."

Ricks' son slept until about 4 p.m., and then, the boy's father recalled, awoke with a promising suggestion: "Kaden told me, 'Daddy, I'm going to say a prayer and ask God to help us kill a deer this evening.' I told him that was good. I hoped we were able to kill one, too."

Mother Nature went to work 15 minutes later, possibly with the help of the Tink's Doe-In-Heat lure that Chris Ricks had dripped on a bush before he shut the door on the blind. "I heard a noise to my left and when I looked I saw this buck charging full steam about 80 yards out," he said. "He was coming straight toward our stand -- fast. It was almost like someone had set his butt on fire with gasoline."

Ricks first saw the buck about 80 yards out as it emerged from a thicket downwind from the stand. The deer closed the gap to 40 yards within a matter of seconds. "I tried to get Kaden on the deer, but he couldn't get ready in time," he said. "The buck was charging fast, and was about to get past us. I knew he would get by us if I didn't make a move quick."

Shouldering his .270, Ricks aimed at the buck's chest and squeezed the trigger. The buck dropped in its tracks -- and the celebration began. "I high-fived Kaden three times and knocked him down by accident," he recalled with a chuckle. "We were both pretty excited."

Rightly so: The 11-point rack has it all -- great tine and beam length and plenty of mass. TPWD wildlife biologist Sean Willis taped the antlers for Texas Big Game Awards entry. The gross Boone and Crockett score is 171 4/8, 163 7/8 net. It's the No. 1 typical killed in Region 6 last season.

For several years now, deer hunters have been using heat/motion sensitive game cameras to monitor deer stands when they're not present to do it themselves. Pictures collected by hidden cameras can either boost or kill hunter confidence, depending on what shows in the viewfinder.

Scott Willis had a game camera set up around a ground scrape near one of his deer stands at the Stripling Island Hunting Club. Luckily for him, he didn't check the camera's contents until Nov. 18; otherwise, he might not be wearing the title "Mr. Big Buck" at what some believe to be the oldest hunting club in Nacogdoches County.

On Nov. 17, Willis elected to hunt one of his box blinds on the far side of the 3,500-acre lease. He was watching eight does and a young buck milling around in a food plot when the does suddenly got nervous and ran off.

"I had been hearing what sounded like another buck grunting in the woods, but I never saw it until the does ran off," he recalled. "When that happened, the young buck in the food plot ran straight toward me and stopped next to a woodline. He started grunting and pawing the ground. That's when the second buck stepped out."

Knowing right away that the second buck was a shooter, Willis lined up the cross hairs on his scoped .270 Short Mag. and busted the deer behind the shoulder. Amazingly, the buck wheeled around and disappeared in the brush -- but it didn't go far. When the hunter approached the spot, the buck was standing erect and staring him down at 25 yards.

"He was looking right at me, and all I could see was that big ol' rack," he said. "When I threw up to shoot, he took off running."

Willis managed to finish the job before the buck got out of range. His trophy buck -- a basic 9-pointer with a pair of drop tines -- grosses 163 1/8, nets 149 7/8.

Interestingly, the presence of double drop tines wasn't the only unique feature of the buck's rack: It also sported some jewelry -- a 4-foot strand of steel cable. After educated eyes gave it a look, it was determined that the alien object entangled in the antlers was a snare used for catching and holding wild hogs.

The story gets better: The next day, Willis went to his other stand to look for deer sign and noticed that his game camera had been activated multiple times. Naturally, he took the film to have it developed.

The 33-year-old hunter was shocked when he thumbed through the prints and came across a picture of the incredible whitetail that he'd shot a day earlier. The picture dated Nov. 6, 2006 -- 11 days earlier -- displayed a full body shot of the buck as it passed by the ground scrape during the wee hours of the night.

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