I was out in western Oklahoma filming for a few days this week and snapped this picture of my friends Scott and Joni Sanderford. Back in January some quail hunters found this massive 8-pointer dead on their ranch, decomposing in a creek bottom near an alfalfa field.
This is a mystery buck that I figure was 5 years old when he perished. Where had he been living…where did he come from? Scott and Joni are out and about on their ranch every day, feeding stock, fixing fence, driving around, doing whatever is needed to keep the ranch up and running.
Each August Scott, a die-hard bowhunter, sets out lots of trail cameras, takes thousands of images and finds 3 or 4 good bucks that he and Joni will hunt in the fall. One of his best camera sets is right there in the creek on the edge of the alfalfa where this monster was found, and several more cameras are positioned within a mile of there. Not once did they see this 150-class giant alive. They never got one picture of the deer.
We talked about it, and Scott believes this might be one of those old, wary nocturnal warriors that live a secret life in a little core area, never to be seen or photographed. Could be, but the more I think about it, I suspect this buck was a transient that had come from miles away and was just passing through the ranch sometime last year–maybe on spring excursion…or looking for does later in the fall…or pushed across the road by other hunters. It is unclear exactly when or how this buck died.
I have hunted on Scott and Joni’s ranch, and I have seen how they live and hunt, and how much time they spend outside. It’s hard for me to believe they would have not seen this giant at least a few times if he’d lived there.
But who knows? The mystery of old big deer is one of the things we love about hunting so much.