Texas deer hunting is known across the country for both quantity and quality. And while many folks typically associate the Lone Star State as being a land primarily under high fence, there are huge bucks taken each year on low-fence lands.
Many of those bucks are taken on smaller tracts that may span only a few hundred acres, tiny by comparison to places like the King Ranch and other hunting hotbeds larger than some East Coast states.
From the top of Texas to the bottom, there are many deer harvested each year that seem almost too good to be true. Here’s one of those stories.
South Texas is big deer country, but even in one of the Muy Grande hotbeds, one buck from 2016 garnered more attention than any other – by a wide margin.
Darell Hoffer knew the buck was a dandy, but until he finally put his hands on the rack, he didn’t realize just how big it really was.
“We hunt an old family ranch near the Webb County/Duval County border,” he said. “It’s rough country, with 90 percent of it being under low fence. There’s a small portion with a high fence, but all the neighbors are high-fenced. Some of our hunting group has been on the place for 17 years and I’ve been on it for the past eight.”
Spending that amount of time in the brush country, Hoffer knows what big deer look like. He also knows at just what age they hit their maximum on his hunting spot.
“He was a 6½-year-old deer. The place we hunt is a little different when it comes to deer reaching their potential. Some places it might be sooner but here we’ve found it to be right at 6½,” Hoffer said.
The big buck had been a regular on the lease, with hunters spying him annually.
“We had been watching this particular buck for three years,” Hoffer said. “We had actually nicknamed him the ‘knot buck’ because he had a big cyst on his neck when he was 3½. That cyst went away a couple of years ago when we had seen him again and I didn’t find anything there after I shot him and cleaned him.”
Hoffer said that the group of hunters on the lease is organized and gentlemanly about their hunting pursuits, which was a lucky break for the El Campo hunter.
“We do a rotation on this place we hunt, so we don’t always shoot a trophy deer every year,” he said. “We try to maintain the number of good bucks and manage it. Last year was my year to be on the trophy list, so it was a good thing. He came out and I shot him with a 7mm at about 125 yards and the rest is history. He’s 30 inches wide on the inside and he was a big deer, too. He field-dressed out at 201 pounds.”
A buck with those dimensions is hard to hide, especially after being entered into the Muy Grande deer contest and the Texas Big Game Awards program last season. Hoffer said he is grateful to have had the opportunity to take such a specimen.
“I’ve gotten to meet a lot of folks who have hunted big deer everywhere because of the notoriety of this buck,” he said. “They all tell me it’s truly a buck of a lifetime, and I believe it.”
Hoffer’s buck ended up grossing 192 1/8 Boone & Crockett points and netting 182 4/8. The buck was the largest typical whitetail from South Texas entered into the Texas Big Game Awards last season, which says something about just how large it really was. It also should be noted that the buck was a Top 10 typical statewide in 2016 when taking into account high-fence tracts of land that almost always will produce larger bucks.
The buck also ranks as the No. 3 typical whitetail all-time in Webb County, Hoffer noted.