By Jill J. Easton
This Okie buck had a death wish!
When Brent Smith drove up to the wheat field south of Ringling, Okla., where he normally hunts, a pickup was circling the area. He waited a few minutes, but the truck didn’t go away.
Disgusted, he moved to another spot near Mud Creek. By the time he got there, the sun was already climbing above the eastern horizon; it was much later than he wanted to begin hunting.
While parking, Brent saw a buck chasing a doe. When he glassed the pair with binoculars, he wasn’t sure what to make of the whitetail with the pincushion on its head.
“I parked the truck and got my gear as quickly and quietly as I could, but the deer made me,” he said. “All I saw was one more flash of antler as the buck disappeared into the timber.”
That was the first time Brent saw the deer.
“It was colossal,” he said. “Its antlers were kind of curved back. And it looked more like a red stag than a whitetail.”
Brent couldn’t get his mind off the buck with the gnarly rack. He returned to the new spot that afternoon, but he saw nothing.
On Nov. 26, Thanksgiving morning, Brent was back to give the big buck a second-to-last try, since there were only two days left in Oklahoma’s 2009 gun season. He was crossing a grassy field when a 6-point buck popped up farther out in the grass. The only thing to do was to get down, stay real still and hope the young buck would leave without sounding a nasal alarm.
“I dropped into the bluestem like I’d been pole-axed,” Brent said. “It was before daylight and 20 degrees out there. The grass was frosted, and I was lying on my belly in frozen grass, on frozen ground, unable to move.”
The cold eventually penetrated Brent’s clothes. He was shivering, and his hands were turning blue. He had to get out of the grass.
“My camo shooting chair was next to me, but I was locked down, lying prone in the bluestem, unable to move because of the 6-pointer,” he said.
By the time the sun rose, Brent was getting dangerously cold. He was shivering uncontrollably, and hypothermia was looming. It was time to do something, or he’d be totally unable to shoot.
“My hands were numb. I had to get up in the chair or freeze, but the deer kept looking my way,” he said. “First, I slid my gun into position, and then I got the shooting stick out of the way when the buck was looking in the other direction. Finally, I was able to slide into the low-slung chair. Believe me, it was a relief to get out of the frozen grass.”
Soon Brent was getting warmer, but when the hat rack buck came out again, Brent still couldn’t move his fingers very well.
“Frost was gleaming on the antlers,” he said. “It looked like something out of a dream or a fairy tale.”
The deer was about 250 yards away, but, after a few agonizing minutes, Brent couldn’t stand waiting anymore and took the shot. The combination of frozen fingers and shaking didn’t add up to good bullet placement.
“The shot went clean over the buck’s back. I sat there and watched the biggest deer I’d ever gotten a shot at run away,” he added. “I knew I’d never see that buck again, but decided to wait 15 minutes, to get my hands warm and see if anything else would happen.”
Sometimes good things happen twice, but three times is almost too much luck. Brent got himself thawed and in a more comfortable position and was finally ready for the morning.
“It was like instant replay, but this time I was calm and warm and had the gun lined up in the shooting sticks, pointed to where the deer had disappeared,” Brent said. “Another deer came out first, and then the big boy showed in almost the same place.”
His second shot of the day flew true, and Brent saw the buck melt into the grass.
“This must be my day,” Brent shouted to the wind as he made the long trek to look at the buck.
“When I got close, the buck was lying on its right side with the left main beam sticking up,” he said. “I knew the deer had more points on the left side than any deer I had ever killed.”
Unfortunately, the giant antlers were the most impressive thing about Brent’s buck.
“Up close, it didn’t look so magnificent,” Brent said. “The buck was rutted down. Its skin sagged like a bloodhound’s. But that was alright. It still had those 25 points (on one side) sticking up into the morning sky. Those antlers looked just as good in my hands as they did from a distance.
“Sometimes, things just work out ... no matter what,” he added.
Hunter: Brent Smith
BTR Official Score: 192 1/8
BTR Composite Score: 208 5/8
— Photos Courtesy of Brent Smith
This article was published in the July 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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