South Texas pumps out its share of giant whitetails, but a significant number of those truly huge deer are shot behind a high fence or are raised in a breeding pen designed to produce whopper bucks. None of that is the case on an 11,000-acre ranch owned by Arturo Benavides, who works year-round to make habitat better for deer, and is a patient, disciplined hunter willing to let a buck with potential grow old enough to grow huge. And it all paid off for him this fall.

On Halloween evening, Benavides killed a buck as big as any ever produced on his ranch, which has been in the family since the late 1800’s. “We’ve been keeping an eye on this buck for the last four years,” said ranch manager Brent Johnson. “Two years ago, he was a 190-class buck, and Arturo passed on him as he had the potential to go even bigger, given the right conditions. Last year was a tough year in south Texas, as a cold winter and a dry spring and summer affected antler growth, so he got another pass. But this year’s trail cam pics showed that he’d absolutely blown up. There was no doubt it was time to go after him.”

Two trail camera photos of a huge Texas buck at a feeder
Trail cam photos this summer and fall showed that the buck had absolutely blown up. Arturo Benavides

Benavides started hunting the buck they’d named “M.C. Hammer” on October 10th. “He probably had 20 hunts for this deer, focused on areas where we knew the buck hung out,” Johnson said. “Finally, on Halloween evening, the buck showed up as the sun was setting. While I knew the buck, it was not a deer that any us saw very often. So just seeing him was pretty special. After watching the buck for several minutes, Art finally got a 140-yard shot. Arturo wasn’t even sure he’d made a good shot, but when he and my son went to the site, they found the buck within 10 yards. Needless to say, it was a pretty special day.”

Photo showing the back side of a Texas buck's rack; hunter posing with the same big Texas buck
Another look at the buck’s massive rack, front and back. Brent Johnson.

Special indeed. Benavides’ giant sported a nearly 25-inch spread, 25-inch main beams, four tines of 12 inches or better and scored 207-⅜ inches B&C. “The thing that amazed me was his symmetry,” Johnson said. “He would face the camera and you could see both of his amazing sides, and they matched up perfectly. I give all the credit to Arturo for letting this huge, free-range buck grow old enough to become all that he could be. Artutro’s grandfather, who bought this ranch many, many years ago, would be proud of him.”