Ray: Looking for the Original Owner

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.

Through an unexpected sequence of events, I became the owner of the big whitetail shed in the accompanying picture. It's not just any giant shed. What makes it special, at least to me, is WHERE it was found. It was picked up less than ¼ mile from the property line of one of the places I hunt, in a creek bottom. I've never seen this deer.

Judging by the mass and size, I'd say the buck that dropped it was at least 5 ½-years-old, but probably 6 ½ or older. You don't get mass like that on young bucks around here.

A ¼ mile is not very far for one of these western whitetails to move, especially during the rut. Will I ever see this buck? Will his antlers be as big this year? Did his rack shrink due to the drought?

Here's a few numbers from the shed. His G-1 measures 5 4/8-inches. The G-2 is 12 0/8-inches, G-3 is 11 4/8-inches, the broken G-4 is 3 4/8-inches long and appears to have been another 2-inches longer before it was broken. The main beam is 24 0/8-inches long. Mass measurements are: H-1 4 7/8; H-2 4 4/8; H-3 4 5/8; H-4 4 0/8. There are two small kickers that would count as deductions on a typical buck like this; one off the brow tine that measures 1 3/8-inches and one on the burr that measures 1 1/8-inches.

That means the 5 point typical side grosses 74 4/8. If you assume the other side was a match, double that number (149) and add an 18-inch inside spread, he was a 167-inch typical last season. Now, add in for the broken G-4 and add that extra 2-inches to both sides and he was over 170-inches typical, plus a few more inches for the kickers. That's a career-best buck for any hunter.

You can bet I'll invest considerable time this fall looking for this buck. I've nicknamed him the Ghost!