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Panhandle Pursuit

Panhandle Pursuit

Zombie buck returns from the dead to lead this hunter on a nerve-wracking pursuit.

By Rusty Taylor

In February 2004, I was surfing the Internet, looking to book a fall deer hunt. Being from Luverne, Ala., I couldn’t help but notice an outfitter from Laverne, Okla., a man named Steve Purviance of Mt. Hide Outfitters. Steve offers hunts in Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas. After speaking with him and some references, I decided to book with him for a hunt in the Texas Panhandle.

I arrived in Canadian, Texas, on Nov. 12, and my hunt was to start the following day. The area I was hunting, known as the Sand Hills, consists of rolling hills and sagebrush. The first morning, guide Jason Hensley and I were set up about 500 yards from an alfalfa field, where we soon spotted two nice bucks following a doe. The bucks bedded in the sage next to the alfalfa, so we decided to get closer.

Jason and I were able to maneuver within 200 yards of the bedded bucks, but we could only see parts of the racks sticking up above the sage. After a few minutes, one of the bucks stood, and I shot right over the top of its back not once, but twice. The wind was in our favor, so it was still clueless and casually bedded down again. Then a 160-class 10-pointer came around and tried to steal the doe that was bedded with the buck I’d missed. Not wanting to share, it immediately stood and headed for a brusque encounter with the 10-pointer. When I shot this time, the buck went straight down.

The 10-pointer continued to chase the doe for an hour while I filmed it. Jason called another guide on the radio to bring his client over to our area to try and take the buck. It took about an hour for them to get to us. Right before the other hunter, Martin Heise, showed up, I saw a big buck headed over a hill and away from us. In horror I exclaimed, “Jason, that looks like my buck!”

And sure enough it was. The buck had fallen in the sagebrush when I shot and we assumed it was dead. So I started filming the other buck. We did not go over to it because we didn’t want to spook the 10-pointer. But the wily whitetail had obviously crawled away while we were watching the other one. Needless to say, I was devastated. Then I had to watch Martin take the big 10-pointer, which scored 160. We found a small amount of blood where my buck went down, but nothing more. That afternoon, we saw a couple of bucks, but not mine.

Subscribe Today!The next morning we went back to the same spot, but saw just a few small bucks. We went back to the alfalfa that afternoon, and I had a beautiful book-class buck come within 15 yards and a nice 9-pointer within 50. Jason and I decided to go in early the next morning and circle about a quarter of a mile down from the alfalfa in hopes of catching my buck heading back to its bedding area.

It was raining about an hour before daylight. We rounded a bend in the road (it was more of a trail) and immediately saw eyes shining in the headlights. At first, we thought it was a cow, but then we simultaneously realized it was in fact my buck. Then the rascal did something that shocked us both: It bedded down right there! We turned the lights and truck off and began the hour-long wait for sunrise. If you never have tried looking through binoculars through a rainy windshield in the dark, let me tell you it’s impossible. Daylight finally arrived, but we still could not see the buck. We weren’t even sure it was still there.

So we slowly made our way toward where we thought we had last seen it. Jason saw it again first. We could barely make out part of its antlers in the sage. A little closer still and I shot the buck. It jumped about 10 feet in the air and took off only to stop about 30 yards out, which was its final mistake.

This huge 15-pointer is the best buck I’ve ever taken, about 250 pounds on the hoof. I had hunted a little over two days and had seen five bucks that would score better than 150. These are free- ranging whitetails – no fences! Four hunters took four great bucks, two of which measured 160 or better and two over 135. Thanks to Steve Purviance and Jason Henley for a great hunt.

Author’s Note: The staff of Mt. Hide Outfitters wants every hunter to be successful. I recommend them to anyone interested in a top quality trophy hunt. Call (580) 921-2555 or find them online at

This article was published in the October 2005 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.

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