The Huisache Buck – Part II
As mentioned during Part I, the 2003 buck capture ended without us capturing the Huisache Buck. To make matters worse, none of the other guides had even caught glimpses of the wary buck during the first 11 weeks of the hunting season. Was the huge buck still alive? Or, had he died of natural causes, never to be seen again? My trophy hunter and I were about to find out.
On December 17th, I had the privilege of guiding my first trophy hunter of the season, Marcel Robichaux from Richmond. I had guided Marcel twice previously, so we were already familiar with each other. In fact, I had suggested to Marcel before his arrival that we should concentrate on hunting for the Huisache Buck. Although the buck had not been seen in nearly 10 months, I felt confident that if we stuck to a game plan of hunting only for this buck, we would eventually cross paths with him during his three-day hunt.
Things started off with a bang the first morning. By mid-morning, Marcel and I had already seen, and passed up opportunities at four potential “shooters,” all within the core area of where I expected us to find the Huisache Buck. Just before lunch that first morning, we decided to expand our search for the buck by checking out a drainage area that led into the Huisache Pasture. As we were circling the drainage area, Marcel spotted a large buck trotting away from us along a second drainage. A quick check of the buck through binoculars indicated the buck was worth investigating, so we veered off the road in the direction the buck was headed.
A short time later, a second look through the binoculars confirmed that not only was the buck a “shooter,” he was the Huisache Buck! The excitement level climbed as Marcel and I eased within rifle range, but each time that Marcel attempted to rest the gun for a shot, the buck would begin trotting away from us again. Finally, after several tense minutes of “cat and mouse,” the buck stood his ground long enough for Marcel to steady the gun and shoot. At the sound of the shot, the giant buck dropped with a hit to the spine.
After rushing to the downed deer, I was stunned to find out that he was not the Huisache Buck. The Huisache Buck, from previous captures, had a notch removed from the lower margin of his right ear in order to obtain a DNA sample. Marcel’s buck had never been captured before because the lower margin of his right ear was not notched. A quick check with the microchip scanner proved conclusively that the buck was not the Huisache Buck.
The monster “look-a-like” buck later gross-scored 164-7/8 inches. The 9 x 6 frame included three abnormal points, two of which were nearly identical to the abnormals that the Huisache Buck had when he was last captured. Other similarities included relatively short G-2 tines, long, heavy beams, and a “picket fence” of typical points on the right side. Although I was very happy for Marcel, I was also a little disappointed because his buck was not the elusive Huisache Buck.
While Marcel and I were field dressing and photographing his trophy buck, Marcel’s partner, Glenn Schaaf, and King Ranch biologist Oscar Cortez, arrived on the scene to offer congratulations. Glenn was also into the first day of a trophy hunt being guided by Oscar. After a quick lunch in Kingsville, Marcel and I decided to help Glenn and Oscar look for their trophy buck. That afternoon, Marcel and I located a 150-class, 10-pointer that we thought Glenn would be interested in seeing. After a quick call over the ranch radio, Oscar and Glenn headed our way. Unfortunately, the buck, which was in obvious pursuit of a “hot” doe, had disappeared into the brush before Oscar and Glenn arrived.
The following day, Oscar and Glenn took over pursuit of the Huisache Buck, as they hunted throughout the area where the buck had been seen. By late afternoon however, the buck still had not made an appearance. Toward dusk that day, Glenn passed on the opportunity at a 7 x 5 that would have scored around 150 inches, ending day two of his King Ranch trophy hunt.
As luck would have it, Oscar had other obligations for the third day of Glenn’s hunt so he asked me if I could take over guiding duties. I said “sure” because I was “chomping at the bit” for another opportunity to hunt the Huisache Buck.
I met Glenn the following morning at Lydia’s Café in Kingsville. After breakfast and coffee, we headed to the field in what would later turn out to be a very fateful day. Our first plan of action was to use my tailgate feeder to spread corn along a route through the Huisache Buck’s home range. We then parked at the end of the route and re-traced the feed route on foot with the wind in our face and the sun at our backs.
Near the beginning of the route, we spotted a large, 10-point buck that Glenn chose to pass. We then turned back in the direction of the parked truck, but this time we veered off the route through the brush, stopping to rattle at likely locations on our way back. We completed the loop back to the truck without catching sight of the Huisache Buck, although I did manage to rattle in a nice 11-point buck that we decided was not yet 6-1/2 years old. The rest of the morning’s hunt was uneventful and before we knew it, it was mid-afternoon of the last day of Glenn’s hunt - it was now or never.
That afternoon, my stubbornness got the best of me, as we found ourselves right back in the core area of where the Huisache Buck had been seen and captured, to make yet another loop through the area. This time, my persistence paid off because as we rounded a curve in a sendero that had been driven at least 10 previous times over the past three days, the Huisache Buck magically appeared only 30-40 yards off the sendero. I slammed on the brakes and told Glenn to “shoot!” While Glenn tried to get a solid rest, the buck eased off into the brush. Fortunately for us, the “waspy” Huisache Buck was with a “hot” doe that was content to stand 30 yards from our parked truck and look at us. It was obvious that the Huisache Buck was nervous, but it was also obvious that he was not going to venture too far from the doe, as a smaller, satellite buck stood nearby.
After waiting several anxious moments for the Huisache Buck to step clear of the brush, we decided to make a loop around to the other side of the buck and doe to see if we could then get a clear shot. Once on the opposite side, the buck was still behind too much brush to offer a clear shot, so we eased back around to the original location where we had first seen the buck. This time, the skittish buck spooked from the truck, but unbelievably stopped in the open a few steps later, to look back at the doe. Glenn took this opportunity to ease out of the truck, rest his rifle, and shoot.
At the sound of the shot, the Huisache Buck stumbled hard, but regained his footing and bolted to our right behind a brush motte. Glenn rushed around the motte in time to get a quick, off-hand, follow-up shot as the buck stood briefly in an opening. Then the buck disappeared. I congratulated Glenn on the shot and suggested that we give the buck plenty of time to expire. We both got back into the truck and drove to the other end of the pasture to calm ourselves.
Forty-five minutes later we were back at the scene of the magical encounter. We walked to where the buck had been standing and then slowly followed in the direction to where the buck had run. But to our surprise, we did not find any blood.
Find out next week if the Huisache Buck was found or if he escaped death disappearing once more into the brambles of the brush country in the conclusion of the hunt for the Huisache Buck – Part III.
Posted by Dr. Mickey W. Hellickson