Ray: Going Late, Scoring Big

_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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Ty Day is no whiner. While most of my deer hunting buddies have been retired to the couch, watching football and enjoying the fireplace, Ty has been bundled up, in the field, hunting as much as possible. Even when wind chill values have been in the single digits. He's tough!

Despite record snow fall where he hunts in western Oklahoma, Ty has been there, hunting hard. Deep snow drifts and muddy roads last week kept him from hunting his number one stand, a spot where he'd seen a 170-class 10-point several times, but he adjusted. He moved to a stand closer to a maintained road with easier access. The ranch has lots of deer and there's more than one good place to hunt.

On one evening sit, he watched a fine 140-class 8-point dog a doe like it was peak of the rut in November. Maybe a doe that was not bred the first time around? Whatever the reason, the mature buck was hot on her tail. But he passed out of range. Then Ty saw another big 140-class 8-pointer. He was also too far. But the bucks were definitely on the move in daylight.

A short time later, a wide 10-point, 150-plus, followed a different doe within bow range down the creek bottom. Just as the buck was about to hit one of Ty's shooting lanes inside bow range, the doe got straight downwind. She snorted and that was it. Ty never saw the buck again.

The next afternoon, hunting the same ladder stand in a tall cottonwood, Ty watched one of the same big 8-points from the previous day from a distance. Still too far for an arrow.

Then, movement behind a tree row caught his eye. It was a big-bodied buck headed down a beat-down trail in the snow right past his ladder stand! At first Ty thought it was the wide 10-point from the day before, but then realized it was a different, big 10-point. A buck he'd never seen before. A shooter anywhere you hunt whitetails in America. Ty clipped the release to the bowstring.

When the buck was broadside at 24 yards, Ty dropped the string on his 64 pound Mathews Z7. The Rage 2-blade broadhead blasted completely through the deer's chest. The buck made it 50 yards, leaving a trail like spilled red paint in the snow, before he dropped. There was still one hour of daylight left when Ty walked up on the old monarch.

Ty reports it took everything he had to get the big-bodied bruiser loaded into his Yamaha Rhino by himself. He even had to use a shovel and dig two holes, to back the back two tires of the Yamaha into to lower the bed, so he could get the big buck dragged on board. Ty estimates the Oklahoma buck weighed 275-300 pounds. The 7 ½-year-old or older buck's rack scored about 155-inches. The back teeth were worn to the gum line.

Late season hunting can be some of the best of the season. Ty Day's Oklahoma bruiser, taken on December 30, is proof of that. Don't be a whiner. If you've still got a buck tag, hunt till the bitter end.