Stephenie Roberts didn’t have to get her husband, Randy, a birthday gift this year.
Having hunted the lease at the top of Texas’ Hill Country the last 25 years, Roberts has seen a lot of good bucks. But he has never had a shot at one as good as the 16-point scoring 170 2/8 that he had last Saturday.
Roberts is the lone lease member who has never converted to bow hunting, which means all of his hunting partners have had a month’s head start on him. It didn’t matter because the big buck only showed up on the lease for the first time a week before the regular season. Fortunately Roberts was sitting in the right place to see it on the eve of the gun season opener.
“Bob Garrett and I were piddling around Friday afternoon like you always do before opening day. We have this spot we call the Boardroom up on a hill where we always meet up. It sits by a windmill and it is kind of a pretty spot,” Roberts said.
As the two sat and talked that evening they were looking at several doe around them and an especially good buck, even for a ranch with a history of producing good deer.
“About dusk this buck comes out and circles our truck. After a few minutes watching it, Bob said, ‘That is a good deer,’” Roberts said. With tongue planted firmly in his check, Roberts replied something to the affect, “You think?”
About that time Tyler hunter Mike Martin Sr., the senior lease member who has logged 30 years on the ranch, drove up and asked whether the two had seen the big buck. After a short discussion, Martin put into motion a plan for the next morning that hopefully would give any deer hunter what would be the ultimate birthday present.
“He said, ‘Randy, tomorrow is your birthday and we need to get you that buck,’” Roberts recalled.
“I hemmed and hawed and said I don’t need to get it,” Roberts said, but his partner wouldn’t have it.
Martin was willing to sacrifice his opening morning to drive Roberts in a high-rack truck hopefully into position for a shot. Shortly after daylight the plan worked exceptionally well.
“We didn’t even get set up and saw a bunch of doe. The buck worked his way down to where I could get a shot, and between my beating heart and heavy breathing I was able to get a shot,” Roberts said.
Maybe the passion was still there because with the buck standing at 85 yards Roberts felt the unmistakable excitement known by all hunters simply as buck fever.
Fortunately he made the shot — if not of a lifetime — at least of the last 25 years.
“We didn’t even have to fudge on this one,” Roberts said of the tale of the tape that came after the buck was down.
Roberts said there were two things that made the buck special. One, it showed a turnaround from last year when the range was dry and antler quality was horrible.
“It was kind of special to be with Mike when I got this buck,” said Roberts, who was still at the lease early last week tending to housekeeping chores and not worrying about big bucks.
“It was kind of a nice deal, and now I can look forward to getting my first Social Security check,” he laughed.
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