Texas’ Antler Restrictions Pay Off in Colorado County

Swanson Ranch in Colorado County, Texas, produces a nice 10 point white-tailed buck 

White-tailed deer hunting is in full swing here in Texas and the bucks and does are hot! The rut in most definitely on in central Texas because each day this week I have observed bucks running does hard throughout the day. Just this afternoon I observed at least 20 different bucks chasing 7 different does. Everything from 10 point bucks to spikes were running does, often in succession with the biggest bucks closest to the does and the smaller bucks trailing behind. Hey, when they’re hot they’re hot!

Now that you’re all pumped up, it’s time for a hunting story submitted by a successful reader of this site. From time to time hunters will submit photos and even stories regarding their most recent deer hunt and this is always appreciated. It’s good to hear how everone is doing and get reports from other parts of the country. I’ve written in the past about the Antler Restriction regulations that are in effect in some Texas counties and that sets the stage for today’s reader-submitted story. Here it is:  

Its been right at 6 years now since Colorado County became an Antler Restriction county. Since that time I have only harvested 1 white-tailed buck (a spike) on the Swanson Ranch located on Sandies Creek in the southern part of the county. Myself, along with other members of the family who hunt there, have been patient waiting for the deer population to grow and mature. I finally found time in my busy schedule to travel out to the ranch this weekend and hunt for the first time this year.

We had been preparing for deer season since mid-summer when we started up the corn feeders and clearing yaupon brush that had regrown since last year. We were even lucky enough to have a few rains in October to establish some cool season food plots. As we entered the ranch, I had a feeling that it would be a good hunt after seeing a young 4 point buck run off into the woods.

Not long after getting situated at my stand, my feeder went off I was overwhelmed to find 4 bucks coming to my feeder. Two 4 point bucks, a small 6 point buck, and a rather tall 5 point. I can not remember the last time I had more than one buck at my feeder at any one time. These were all young deer (less than 2 1/2 years old) and could not be harvested due to the antler restrictions, which state that bucks must have at least one unbranched antler (spike) or have an inside spread equal to or greater than 13 inches.

Seeing this bucks, however, gave me the proof that I had long been awaiting for. This showed me that our buck population was on the rise! Knowing that these bucks are out there and having the chance to grow shows a great increase in the potential of our deer population. But the hunt does not end there.

I was content with the days activity after seeing 5 bucks and my morning hunt had ended, but as my father and I were preparing to leave the ranch we saw a nice buck making its way across an open prairie. With my gun within reach, I quickly grabbed my rifle, jumped out of the truck, and moved off into a better position to evaluate the buck.

Just as I had taken up a position and looked at the buck though my scope, I could see easily that his antlers were outside his ears. This gave me the go ahead, telling me that he was at least 13 inches wide! I put the cross hairs on his neck, squeezed the trigger, and dropped him where he stood. In all the excitement all I could see was a bunch of points through the scope so I knew he was at least an eight, but upon retrieving my trophy I soon realized I had taken my first 10 point white-tailed buck!

Swanson Ranch in Colorado County, Texas, produces a nice 10 point white-tailed buckSwanson Ranch in Colorado County, Texas, produces a nice 10 point white-tailed buckSwanson Ranch in Colorado County, Texas, produces a nice 10 point white-tailed buck

After cleaning the buck at the house, my father and I started analyzing the buck a little more. After pulling a few tape measurements, we very roughly scored the buck to be at least 120 Boone and Crockett inches with a 14 5/8 inch inside spread. This is large buck by the ranches standards and history, but the analysis didn’t end there. When we cut the cheek to check the buck’s age we were dumbfounded, the buck had no teeth — just raw gums! This by word of the taxidermist put the buck well over 7 years of age!

This gave me more proof that our management strategy, along with the antler restrictions, is leading to bigger mature bucks. Now, we are no where near competing with places such as the King Ranch for big bucks, but with more time and our sound management program, I am confident that the Swanson Ranch is well on its way to producing its first Boone and Crockett buck!

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