A Lost Trophy

At my hunting lease outside of Millersview, Randy, Paul Culbertson, Son and Son-In-Law in order, and I, along with Sonny and Red, had just put up a nice bevy of quail, 15 or more, had knocked down 3 on the rise and were going after the main bunch that had fanned out over 300 yards ahead of us.  We were in no hurry to press the quail, let ‘em spread their scent around, so we took our time and off to my right I saw a deer horn poking above the knee high grass.  Always alert for sheds, better to use for rattlin’, I ended my quail chase and sauntered over to check the horns out.

Closer inspection revealed they were still attached to a, recently shot, now dead, but not smelling yet, buck.  It was plain that it had been gut shot, it was hit right in the middle, very poor shot placement, but not wanting to miss out on the fast singles action that lay ahead I made a hasty triangulation of land marks.  Marking a shin oak grove, a lone mesquite tree and a distant butte, I went on after the birds.

Some excellent dog work from Sonny and Red, helped us to collect 3 more cock birds and taking a break from the action, I told the boys about my earlier find and the huge horns!  Both were anxious to walk back and see the buck, but as we walked, we figured out we didn’t have a saw, nor was there one in the truck. Finding the buck was easy, but after the oohing and aahing, we could figure no way to collect the horns, so I decided to come back the next Saturday with a saw and by then I would need a mask too!

The next Saturday, Randy, Brad, Paul and I, along with Sonny and Red began our quest for the horns, but not before collecting 3 quail pointed by the dogs.  Hunting into the wind, finding the buck was easy, we just followed the scent, no need for the landmarks, and after donning face masks, began hacking with the saw.  The horns, pictured below, were still huge!

After securing the horns, back in Houston the next week I called each lease member and asked them if they had shot at, wounded or missed a good buck. Each man said that for the past several weeks they hadn’t even fired a shot. My boys and I believed the buck was gut shot on an adjoining lease, jumped the fence on to our lease, died a slow, painful death and we wondered about the true story of this great buck, who shot him and didn’t even have the courtesy to ask our rancher for permission to look for their trophy!

Two weeks after collecting the horns, the hunters (AKA tenderfoots) on the adjoining lease flagged me down while I was chasing quail and asked me if they could cross over to look for a deer they had shot (shot at, I thought). “Of course,” I said to them, adding, “Leave your guns on your side of the fence, but come on over and I’ll help you.” The blood trail was light, soon disappearing, but we looked for 2 more hours with no luck, so I helped them back over the fence and they went on their way.  After the search, I believed that I had figured what had happened to the trophy buck.

For 3 years the horns graced the horn wall in our old ranch house, then I took them down to my friend Warren Blesh, owner of [RRR Ranch], and an official B&C scorer, to have them scored. Scoring them he found they hit 160-1/2 gross and netted 157-1/4. He told me that anything over 130 was considered a trophy and that I should round up a deer head, attach the horns and have a real, good one hanging on the wall! Another friend and softball buddy, Mickey Donahoo, also a taxidermist, said he could take a caped deer and add these horns adding that he would even come over and cape one for me! I can’t beat that!