The Huisache Buck – Part III

We were 40-50 yards along the buck’s escape route when we found the first signs of blood and a bone chip that we both identified as a one-inch section of rib. This was a good sign and our confidence rose as we began to find more and more blood. At the time, everything about the shot indicated that we would find the buck; as Glenn and I constantly scanned ahead of the blood trail looking for the carcass.

We continued to blood-trail the buck, but unbelievably, after 500 yards of tracking, we lost the blood trail. We spent the last 30 minutes of daylight searching for the next spot of blood, but never found another drop. Major depression now began to set in for both of us as we each wondered what could have gone wrong. It was obvious that the buck had been hit hard by the way he stumbled. It was also obvious that the shot had entered the rib cage, but why then did the blood trail end without us finding the buck? We both concluded that the buck must have been hit just a little high and a little too far behind the shoulder. Although it was likely the lungs had been damaged, it was also obvious that not enough damage had been done.

I had an obligation to guide another trophy hunter for the next three days, which meant that I would not be able to return to look for the Huisache Buck when the chances for recovery would be highest. Fortunately, Oscar agreed to spend some time searching for the buck while I was involved with other guiding duties. However, Oscar’s efforts also ended without recovering the buck.

The day after my hunt ended, Oscar and I were back at the location where the last spot of blood had been found. We spent a couple of hours that afternoon fruitlessly searching for the Huisache Buck without success. Over the course of the next three weeks, I returned to the area multiple times to search for the buck, but again without success.

Then, on January 21st, a full month after Glenn wounded the Huisache Buck and after all of our trophy hunts had ended, I had the opportunity to get in a helicopter to search for the Huisache Buck from the air. Daryl Kneiszel, with Mesquite Helicopters, picked me up at the Laureles Division headquarters and we immediately headed for the Huisache Pasture.

We began our aerial search where the last spot of blood had been found. Daryl made tight transects with the helicopter as we continued in the general direction the blood trail had taken. Thirty minutes into our search Daryl spotted a fresh shed antler from the helicopter. At nearly the same time, I spotted a second fresh shed antler 20 yards away from the first antler. I immediately recognized the sheds as those from the Huisache Buck and instructed Daryl to land the helicopter. Amazingly, the Huisache Buck had survived the wound from Glenn’s 30-06, but was obviously injured enough to shed his antlers 30-45 days early. As Daryl turned the helicopter back toward headquarters, I was hopeful the buck would survive to be hunted again next season.

After Daryl returned me to my vehicle, I headed back to the Huisache Pasture - we had spotted other shed antlers while in the air and I had taken waypoints of their locations with my hand-held GPS. I successfully located the four shed antlers from the ground and then decided to spend some time searching for other shed antlers from the Huisache Buck from previous years.

I spent about an hour walking the core area of the Huisache Buck on foot. Surprisingly, during my search I managed to find the right side shed antler from the Huisache Buck from two years earlier. I then turned back toward my truck, continuing to search for shed antlers along the way, when I stumbled upon the carcass of a buck that had shed his antlers before dying.

When I looked down at the carcass, I noticed that the right ear had a notch in the lower margin and I immediately realized that I had just found the Huisache Buck! My heart sank as I pieced together the story of the monster buck’s last few minutes on earth. It was obvious by the trail of hair tufts, that coyotes had crossed paths with the buck after he shed his antlers and had dragged him to his death. Although I was ecstatic that I had recovered Glenn’s buck, I was saddened that the monster buck would no longer be out there in the brush to challenge our hunting instincts. My heart rose again when I called Glenn to give him the good news. Needless to say, Glenn was also both ecstatic that the buck had been recovered, but also saddened at the same time.

I later used the scanner to scan the microchips in the ear and front leg of the carcass to confirm that the buck was indeed the Huisache Buck. Judging by the remains and the missing rib bones, it appeared the bullet had entered almost exactly where Glenn was aiming, but unbelievably, the buck managed to survive for several weeks and was likely on his way to a full recovery, when he encountered the coyotes.

Global positioning system (GPS) waypoints taken where the shot occurred, where the last spot of blood was found, where the sheds were located, and where the carcass was recovered revealed that the buck traveled 0.2 miles from the location of the shot to the last spot of blood and that the carcass was 0.6 miles from the last spot of blood and 450 feet from the shed antlers.

The shed antlers later gross-scored an amazing 157-7/8 inches. The estimated score jumped to 177-1/8 inches, when the inside spread measurement of 19-2/8 inches (measured when the buck was captured during October 2002) was added. The 6 x 6 typical frame gross scored 174-5/8 inches, with a net score of 165-2/8 inches.

Join me next week when we investigate the factors influencing buck movement patterns.


The tale of the tape for the “Huisache Buck”:
Right Left
Number of points 7 7
Main beam length 25-7/8 25-2/8
First point (G1) 5-1/8 4-1/8
Second point (G2) 6-1/8 6-7/8
Third point (G3) 9-4/8 7-4/8
Fourth point (G4) 8-3/8 7-3/8
Fifth point (G5) 6-2/8 5-5/8
First circumference (H1) 5-2/8 5-0/8
Second circumference (H2) 4-3/8 4-2/8
Third circumference (H3) 4-5/8 4-6/8
Fourth circumference (H4) 4-6/8 4-3/8
Total 80-2/8 75-1/8

Abnormals 1-3/8 1-1/8
Inside spread 19-2/8 (estimated based on spread in 2002)
Gross B&C 177-1/8
Gross typical B&C (green) 174-5/8
Net typical B&C (green) 165-2/8

Posted by Dr. Mickey W. Hellickson

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