Oklahoman uses deerspeak to lure 17-pointer into the light.
If four decades have taught Dean Holbrook anything about the deer hiding among the slick hills of Kiowa County, Oklahoma, it’s that the bucks are almost completely nocturnal until the very air reeks of doe.
That’s why the 52-year-old farmer from Lawton rarely hunts without a grunt tube, especially when he’s afield during the state’s late October muzzleloader season. The rut there doesn’t really kick in until a month later, during the 16-day rifle season.
Hunters keep a close watch on naturally occurring and supplemental food sources the rest of the season, but the deer rarely eat when the sun’s overhead. Most folks pray their deer will be late leaving the food in the mornings or early to reach it before sundown.
When Dean headed out about 3:00 on Oct. 30, he figured his hunt would be an exercise in futility. But at least he knew a fine buck had passed by the area’s only trail camera the previous night.
“That big guy was there at midnight,” Dean said. “I didn’t think there was any chance of seeing such a buck during muzzleloader season. I didn’t figure we’d see anything in those slick hills until rifle season.
“The only other buck that camera had photographed to that point was a 2-pointer,” he added.
Oklahoma’s 2015 rifle season opened Nov. 21 – three weeks away – and ran through Dec. 6.
Arriving at his property by 3:00 gave Dean about four hours to hunt, or, more precisely, three and a half hours to watch rocks and less than 30 minutes to hope a deer might show. But there’s always the option of jumpstarting things.
“Late that evening, I started grunting with my tube call,” he said. “I sat there until 30 minutes before dark and grunted a few more times.
“I’ve grunted up quite a few deer with that call, especially during the early muzzleloader season. I think it’s best used then anyway, because they’re more interested in fighting.
“But nothing responded,” he added. “It was hot that day, so I figured the deer wouldn’t be up and about.
“I was sitting between two great big rocks. When I stood up and turned around close to 7:00, ready to leave, I saw this buck looking in my direction from right about 100 yards away. There was a perfect rest for my muzzleloader right off one of the rocks.
“I guess it didn’t see me because of the boulders,” Dean added.
“I shot, and the buck went about 10 yards, rolled over and started kicking. I reloaded, but then decided to just let him die.
“I didn’t want to have to trail him,” he continued. “We have only 150 acres.”
Darkness fell quickly after that.
“When I went over to look for blood, I had only a cheap flashlight and could see only about 5 feet,” he said. “But I could hear something kicking in a nearby draw.”
Dean fought the urge to plow off into the draw with his weak light.
“I drove 30 minutes home, got my flashlight and some help – my friend, Jimmy Roberts, and his son. When we got back up there, Jimmy walked right down to the deer, which was still breathing,” he said.
It stopped shortly thereafter.
Hunter: Dean Holbrook
Score: 193 3/8
This article was published in the August 2016 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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