Ray: An Oklahoma Beauty

Rut Reporter Brandon Ray is an expert on the region. Ray was born in Dallas and shot his first deer with a bow in Central Texas at the age of 15. The full-time freelance writer manages his family's Texas Panhandle ranch, is a licensed New Mexico guide, and last year took a 184 gross P&Y non-typical trophy. States covered: TX, OK, NM.

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I'm just home from a short hunt in northwest Oklahoma with a good friend. Here's the latest.

The first evening, I had three does trail past my ladder stand in a cottonwood tree. It was almost dark. In the distance, about 200 yards away in a CRP field, I could see a blocky deer silhouette--nose to the ground--following their same path. It was last light, too late to shoot, but I wanted to see if he'd come to a call. I grunted twice on a grunt call. He instantly came to me at a trot.

When he passed my tree at 30 yards, I could see it was a big-bodied, swollen necked and mature buck. It was so dark, I could not count points through binoculars, but I could tell his entire left side was broken at the base!

The following day, I hiked almost a mile in the dark to sit in that same ladder stand. That stand sits in an open draw that connects wheat fields and open country to the north and a thick, tangled bedding area of sunflower stalks, willows and tall grass to the south.

When it was barely shooting light, I spotted several deer in the distance to the north. They were still 300 yards away in the open country. Two of them, a doe and a fawn, started to walk a trail to the south, headed right for me. As the light improved, I spotted a third deer about 60 yards behind them following the same trail. It was a buck.

Minutes ticked by and the doe and fawn walked 20 yards from my stand. The doe was getting just yards away from my scent stream, almost straight downwind. The trailing buck was closing fast. I sized him up quickly though my 10X binoculars--a good 8-point with no broken tines--then tucked them away and got my release on the string.

He stopped 21 yards from my tree, just as the doe standing straight downwind of me snorted! She'd smelled me and it was now or never.

The bowstring of my Hoyt bow was already at my cheek. I lined up the bright green 20 yard pin low on his chest and cut the shot.

The 390 grain Gold Tip carbon arrow tipped with a G5 CS Montec broadhead whistled through both lungs. The buck trotted 40 yards and tipped over in a plum thicket. The snorting doe just stared as he fell over. It was 7:00 A.M.

We estimated him at 3 ½ or 4 ½-years-old with a live weight over 200 pounds. A great buck. My friend spotted an even bigger, 150-class 10-point, in that same area the same day.

From what my friend and I saw in just a couple of days in northwest Oklahoma, it seemed like the young bucks were definitely acting goofy; making scrapes, lip curling, bird-dogging and chasing does. But we are still a few days away from total chaos that includes older bucks. Half of the bucks we saw had broken tines or complete sides of their racks missing, so double check before you take the shot!

The next ten days should be exciting in the northern half of the South Central region.