Trophy Buck is Poster Child for the Rut

Brandt Vermillion is having a great deer season. First, he arrowed a three-beamed buck in the Texas Panhandle in early November. That buck's rack carried 162 inches of antler. On November 19, he got lucky again.

Brandt was hunting a lease he acquired this year. The place is only a couple hundred acres in size, but it's a block of timber and brush that is surrounded by agriculture and more open pastures, and it holds deer. Since September, he was seeing some good bucks on his trail cameras. The standout buck on those early trail camera images was a typical 11-point. The buck looked mature and his rack carried a row of tines with thick bases and heavy beams.

The buck appeared randomly on the cameras over the past month: sometimes in the dark, sometimes in the day; sometimes on one end of the property and other times at the opposite end. For the past two weeks, the buck didn't appear at all. Brandt assumed the buck had been shot on a neighboring property.

But then the buck showed up twice on the trail camera near one of his stands--once in the morning and again in the evening--on November 18. Brandt decided it was time to hunt.

It was unseasonably warm, close to 80 degrees, without so much as a breath of wind. Brandt was in the tree for an hour and saw nothing. At 5:25 p.m., he thought he heard something behind him. He turned just in time to see the big typical 11-point walking down a cut bank and coming within range. The buck was circling on the downwind side, and Brandt thinks the buck had detected the doe-in-heat wicks he'd hung before climbing into his perch. Brandt drew his bow as the buck was walking. When the deer stopped at 18 yards, Brandt dropped the string.

The buck was hit in the heart and only went about 80 yards. The deer's rack had 11 typical points and two extras around the bases. Counting the extras, the 13-pointer scored almost 155 inches.

Brandt said the buck reeked. Both tarsal glands on the hind legs were black, and both back legs were soaked in urine. Brandt said the urine appeared crystallized. Many of the trail camera pictures of this buck over the past month showed him working a scrape line, mostly in the dark. The buck was definitely an active participant in the rut.

Brandt is happy about his two-buck season. So is his taxidermist.