Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game warden Eric Minter is living large. That’s because on October 21 he found himself as the lucky hunter staring down the buck of a lifetime from a Gorilla treestand hung high in a creek bottom filled with white oaks raining acorns. When all was said and done, it was Minter putting his own tag on a whopper 27-point non-typical Kaufman County buck. There is no official green score number on the multi-tined monster yet, one look at the photos from the buck would lead one to believe that this deer will score well above the 200-inch mark on the non-typical side of the Boone and Crockett scoring sheet.
“I’ve been kind of leery of telling everybody just yet because I don’t know what he scores and I don’t want to guess and it be a lot lower or higher than I expected,” Minter said. “But this is unbelievable.” Some observers who have looked at the whitetail think it’s possible that the Minter buck could potentially challenge the existing Pope & Young Club state record non-typical in Texas, a 225 7/8 inch buck taken by bowhunter Jeffery L. Duncan on the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge back in 2001. Not bad for Minter’s first bow buck.
“I started bowhunting probably six years ago,” Minter said. “My thinking was that bow season would give me another 30 days in the woods to deer hunt. (But) I never dreamed I would do anything like this with my bow.” Over that six year span, Minter has become pretty proficient with his stick-and-string, arrowing a couple of does and “…lots of (wild) pigs” roaming through the wilds of Kaufman County located just east of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.
A TPWD game warden since 1997, Minter admits that bow season up until this point in time has primarily served as “scouting time” for his rifle hunting efforts since he is a married man of 13-years and a father of three boys including 4 1/2 year old twins. Besides, he laughs, he tends to be pretty busy during the general deer season making sure that other hunters are on the up and up in their own deer hunting efforts.
“There are pluses and minuses to working and hunting in the same county,” Minter said. “ I can go to my lease at just about any time, but I can also get called out just about anytime. “I might have an off-day and think today is perfect and I’m going to hunt, but then I can get in my stand and be there for 30 minutes and hear a shot in a direction where there shouldn’t be a shot and off I’ve got to go (to check things out).”
Despite getting to his modest sized lease a few minutes later than he wanted to this past Monday, Oct. 21, Minter had plenty to anticipate thanks to deer movement he, his lease members, and neighboring property owners had observed over the previous weekend. After climbing into his stand, it didn’t take long for the early morning action to heat up quickly as shooting time arrived on the watch.
Thanks to the abundant acorns, a steady stream of does and small bucks kept the warden entertained. In fact, Minter noted that about 8 o’clock that morning, there were “…eight or nine deer in front of his stand…” chowing on the sweet white oak nuts. Less than a half-hour later, however, things got much more serious as Minter looked up to see a large bodied buck cruising the edge of a thick line of timber leading towards the open oak flat he was overlooking.
Despite his best efforts, the bowhunter couldn’t get a clean look at the buck’s rack other than to note that there were several silhouetted points coming off one of the main beams. If there was any doubt in Minter’s mind about the caliber of the buck he was looking at, his ears soon told him all he needed to know.
“(The) does started freaking out and running and this dude let out a grunt like I had never heard before,” Minter said. “He grunted like that twice. “When I heard him, I thought ‘Golly, he’s got to be the biggest thing out there.’”
Little did he know. Especially when the deer ran off and disappeared after the does leaving the warden to wonder how he was going to explain what he had just witnessed to his other hunting buddies. Ten minutes later, he wouldn’t have to wonder any more as the buck reappeared. “He came back into the opening and came right up (towards my stand) at about 30 yards,” Minter said. “The sun still hadn’t really cleared the tops of the trees yet so it was still kind of dark under the tree canopy. All I could make out was that he had two drop tines and that he was wide.” At first, the deer was facing Minter’s position.
But when the buck turned away and looked to his right, an opportunity arrived for the hunter to draw back his Mathews DXT bow undetected. Finally, the buck gave Minter the broadside angle that he needed. “I had some trees marked at 20, 30, and 40 yards and he was the exact distance as my 30 yard tree so I put my 30 yard pin on him, tried not to look at the antlers anymore, and let it go.”
The Carbon Express arrow and Grim Reaper broadhead combination slammed home into the deer’s vitals, causing the buck to drop virtually on the spot. When the deer tried to get up, Minter put a follow up arrow into the buck, bringing a sudden stillness to the woods. Except for the hunter’s own throbbing pulse rate, that is. Amazingly, as the woods quieted down, deer started filtering back out to take advantage of the acorn bonanza lying on the ground.
Not wanting to disturb the deer for the sake of the other hunters on his lease, Minter sat patiently for some time. “I ended up seeing more bucks after I shot him than I had seen all of the other days (this year) combined,” Minter said. “Before it was all over, there were two sevens, a six, a spike, and a good mature 12 that had come in. When the 12-pointer finally chased off the last of the feeding does, Minter was able to get out of his stand and see what his arrow had wrought.
What it had wrought is the non-typical buck of a lifetime for any hunter anywhere. “I had never felt that much emotion deer hunting,” he said of claiming his big-antlered prize. “I never dreamed that I would get a buck of that quality – that’s always something that happens for the other guys.” Not this time – the 5 1/2 year old buck field-dressing at 165-pounds is wearing Minter’s tag.
“I know there are a lot of guys that put in a lot of work,” Minter said. “I guess I was just in the right place at the right time and some good fortune shined down on me.”