This has been the year of the big deer on small acreage.
More common in northern states where hunters are often confined to so-called wood plots measuring a dozen or so acres, everything is typically big in Texas when it comes to deer hunting. In fact, Peart’s family are first-year members on a 4,000-acre Anderson County lease. But for the Bullard High School student, there was no place like the home place west of town when it comes to big deer.
Although the big buck had been seen around the area for several years, no one had seen him while hunting. Peart actually had pictures of the deer on a game camera the last two seasons, but both one-time images came during the night.
Peart, who has been around deer hunting since he was 4, didn’t pick the best of days to go hunting. It was cold, rainy and Smith County was under a tornado warning.
“I thought if I didn’t go hunting I was not going to kill anything,” he recalled.
Hunting a tree-lined area about 500 yards from the house, Peart had never seen a lot of deer on the property in the past, just a few small bucks and a does.
Not this time.
It all sounded pretty simple, but it wasn’t. Peart had to have the presence of mind to make sure the buck exceeded the county’s 13-inch inside spread rule, which it did by about an inch and a half.
There was also that case of nerves.
“I was freaking out. I had buck fever like I never had before. I was shaking really bad,” Peart said.
It was to be expected. His previous biggest buck could be best measured by its spread, it was right at 13 inches.
The hunter’s next move after the shot was a bit out of the norm. He walked back to the house for help.
“I didn’t have my phone with me so I ran home and got my Ranger. My brother went with me,” Peart said.
His parents hadn’t heard the shot, and were a bit skeptical when the hunter tried to explain the deer. When they saw it, he described their reaction as the same as his.
There is some debate as to whether the deer is the same that showed up on the game camera. Peart is certain it is.
Either way, the 5 ½-year-old is still a brute. Texas Big Game Awards scorer and taxidermist Jake Carter scored the buck. He said it had an inside spread of 14 4/8 inches and a longest main beam of 21 5/8. The buck had giant tines with both G2s measuring over 13 inches and the two G3s stretched 10 1/8 and 11 7/8 inches.
It also had mass. Both bases measured 5 3/8 inches, and the right side carried 5 inches at both its H2 and H3 measurements. The left side second and third measurements were 4 6/8 inches. Both final mass measurements were still 4 1/8 and 3 3/8 inches.
It is hard to say why more good bucks are being killed on small acreage, but it starts with more people hunting them. Also, there are more of them, and with urban sprawl even in Smith County deer are finding unusual places to live.
The drought of recent years may have dispersed deer into new locations, and hunting during the rut, like Peart was doing, could result in a buck being anywhere.
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