Eric Minter’s buck wasn’t the smoothest of talkers. Either that, or it was just looking for love in all the wrong places.
When the 31-pointer strolled into the white oak flat where several does were snuffling up breakfast on Oct. 19, 2009, when it opened its mouth to perhaps announce its intentions, the long-faced Ya-Yas went berserk. They all left, post haste, taking the confused and lovesick buck with them.
That left Eric, who’d seen more points on one side of the deer’s rack than most whitetails carry on two beams, scratching his head in disbelief. He might as well have seen a unicorn, since his buddies weren’t apt to believe such an animal existed on their Kaufman County lease.
South of San Antonio maybe, but east of Dallas?
Eric might’ve collected a couple of does and arrowed a few wild hogs in the six years since taking up bowhunting, but he’d never skewered a buck. A game warden for 12 years at that point, the then 44-year-old Texan knew the stick and string is a viable means of notching deer tags, but he mainly did it so he could enjoy an extra month of scouting for rifle season.
Collecting a little venison and pork along the way was a potential bonus.
Seeing a buck of this caliber, however, can cause priorities and opinions to shift like tectonic plates.
Eric arrived later than usual at his creek bottom setup that Monday morning, but tardiness didn’t dampen his enthusiasm. He’d heard the deer had been active that weekend.
The whitetails started arriving soon after Eric was 20 feet aloft. By 8:00, he’d seen eight or nine, all gorging on sweet white oak acorns in front of his treestand.
At not quite 8:30, he spotted a large bodied buck skirting the edge of thicker timber nearby. All he could tell about its rack was that one side carried several points, and it had a voice like an old ‘coon hound.
“It let out a grunt like I’d never heard before,” Eric said. “It grunted like that twice, and all the rest of the deer freaked out and left.
“When I heard it, I thought, Golly, that thing’s got to be the biggest one out there,” he added.
Talk about understatement!
After all the deer disappeared, Eric began pondering the story he’d tell his friends. He wondered how he was going to explain what he’d witnessed. Ten minutes later, the answer came on four legs.
“The buck came back, right up to within 30 yards,” Eric said. “The sun still hadn’t really cleared the tops of the trees yet, so it was still kind of dark under the tree canopy. All I could make out was that its rack had two drop tines and was wide.”
The deer was facing him, at first, which meant Eric didn’t dare draw his Mathews DXT. But when it turned and offered a broadside target, the caution was abandoned.
“I had some trees marked at 20, 30 and 40 yards, and the deer was the exact distance as my 30-yard tree, so I put that pin on him, tried not to look at the antlers anymore, and let it go,” he said.
The expandable broadhead-tipped arrow slammed into the deer’s sweet spot, and the animal collapsed. When it tried to rise, Eric anchored it with a second arrow.
While it was lying there, other deer began returning to the acorn buffet. So as not to diminish anyone else’s chances, Eric remained in his stand for quite a while.
“I ended up seeing more bucks after I shot this one than I had seen during all of the other days (to that point) combined,” he said. “Before it was all over, I saw two 7s, a 6, a spike and a good mature 12-pointer.”
When the latter finally chased off the last of the feeding does, Eric was able to get out of his stand to see his buck up close.
“You know, I had so much fun sitting up there and watching those deer. Even before this buck came along, that was one of better days I had ever experienced.”
Later, when word spread about his accomplishment, Eric evaded questions about rack size, at least in inches. He avoided guessing, even though the Internet was abuzz with proclamations of the deer toppling the current Texas archery record.
“I didn’t want to guess and it be a lot lower or higher than I expected,” he said.
Numbers aside, it’s an impressive first buck by bow, by gun, or by any choice of weapon.
“I started bowhunting probably six years before that,” he said. “I (just) figured bow season would give me another 30 days in the woods to deer hunt.”
This buck certainly changed his way of thinking.
“I’ve never felt that much emotion while deer hunting,” he said. “I never dreamed that I would get a buck of this quality. That’s always something that happens for the other guys.”
And fortunate is how he prefers to be labeled.
“I know there are a lot of guys who put in a lot of work,” he said. “I was just in the right place at the right time.”
Hunter: Eric Minter
BTR Score: 212 3/8”
– Photo Courtesy Eric Minter
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