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Giant Bucks Of The Pines & Post Oak
Despite predictions of poor antler growth for bucks in the region, East Texas turned out some mighty impressive bucks last fall -- as these hunts demonstrate. (September 2007) ... [+] Full Article
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Texas Sportsman
South Texas Trophies
Once again, big bucks seemed to be popping out of the South Texas brush everywhere last season. Here's a closer look at hunts that produced some of the finest trophies. (December 2005)

When Leighton Wier first saw this La Salle County 6x6, he thought the buck might score 160. It was far bigger -- 185 3/8 gross!
Photo courtesy of Leighton Wier

Epic: That might be the most appropriate way to describe the 2004-05 white-tailed deer season in South Texas, a season that by all accounts was just about as good as deer hunting can possibly get.

Thanks to lush range conditions brought on by 2004's abundant rainfall, many monster bucks fell last deer season, and of those, quite a few were entered into the 2004-05 edition of the Texas Big Game Awards program in Region 8.

With that in mind, here's a closer look at some of those Brush Country monster bucks and the hunters who took them.

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La Salle County Non-Typical
216 2/8 Gross, 210 4/8 Net
To kill a world-class whitetail -- even in South Texas -- you and the deer have got to have the right mix of ingredients: genes, nutrition, age, time on stand, and a little bit of old-fashioned luck.

Add all of those ingredients up and once in a great while, the Brush Country buck of a lifetime will step out into a sendero to test your ability to steady the cross hairs. When Fulshear's John B. Smart, who's been deer hunting since he was 11, walked onto a familiar piece of ground last October, managed lands deer permit in hand, he got that opportunity.

After spending six hard days of hunting the Wright Ranch, the 63-year old Smart found himself wrestling with an interesting scheduling conflict as he tried to tag a massive buck known only by its brief late-summer appearance on video.

"I told ranch manager Richard Hurt, 'I have company coming from (out-of-state) tomorrow, and I think I'll blow tomorrow off and get back after him next week," Smart said.

To which Hurt replied, "You know, my wife was sitting on the back of the property yesterday and she saw a big deer with two broken tines. I'd hate to get this deer all busted up."

To which Smart answered, "I'll think about it."

On the drive home, Smart did just that, eventually making plans to return the next day. With apologies extended for this obvious pun, that was a smart decision!

After a sweltering day of hunting, Smart found himself left with mere minutes of daylight when the massive buck arrived on the scene. "There were about 35 to 40 deer feeding on the field, and all of a sudden, they all turned and looked," Smart recalled. "Every one of those deer froze and watched the spot in the brush where this deer was about to come out. It was pretty obvious that something was about to happen."

Indeed it was: Smart and Hurt saw the tops of a big set of antlers coming through the brush. "It took only about 10 seconds to look him over and make sure he didn't have any broken tines," said Smart.

The shot from Smart's Browning A-Bolt .270 Short Mag. was a good one, and the hunter put his tag on a buck that suffered no ground shrinkage at all. "The closer I got to him, the bigger he got," Smart remarked with a laugh. "He's a great deer."

That's an understatement: The Smart buck sports 16 points and scores of 216 2/8 inches gross and 210 4/8 inches net, numbers that rank the deer as the top non-typical buck in Region 8 last year.

"My feet didn't touch the ground for a month," Smart said. If you're a deer hunter, you can understand why.

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