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Jackpot Bucks-Do you feel lucky?

Jackpot Bucks 

By Larry Teague
Page 2

Alvarez first spotted the massive buck on Nov. 13, 1997. He'd already filled one of his tags-each member of the King Ranch's Kineno Wildlife Hunting Club is allowed to take two whitetails per season-and he was scouting for a deer worthy of his remaining tag.

"I went out after work to drive around in the pasture for a while and then go hunt, and at 700 yards (through 10x50 binoculars) I spotted this buck," Alvarez says. "All I saw was his long tines-he was very big, like nothing I had ever seen before. But as I tried getting closer to him, he and some does he was with went into some mesquite brush, and I never saw him again (that day)."

Alvarez continued to hunt for the deer at every opportunity-after work and on weekends-but never spotted him again until the final days of the deer season. That's when Alvarez and his brother-in-law, Ruben, decided on a whim to go turkey hunting near a known roost site.

"We pulled up to the area about 8 o'clock, and we saw some turkeys," he says. "We were looking at the turkeys when I heard some ducks take wing off the water. And that got my attention."

The morning was bright and calm. While Ruben was counting turkeys-hens and jakes, no long-bearded gobblers-Alvarez slowly turned to the splashing noise coming from the small lake behind him. He then spotted not the deer of a lifetime but the whitetail of several lifetimes.

"Usually when you see a buck, you want to count points to see how much it'll score. But this one was so awesome, I picked up my .300 Winchester Magnum and took aim. When I did that," he continues, "he disappeared. I got my 10x50 binoculars and he reappeared again. I got my rifle up again, and my brother-in-law asked, 'What are you looking at? Is it a big gobbler?'

"I said, 'No! Look toward the huisache, the thicket by the lake. There's a big monster over there!' "

The monster-the same buck Alvarez saw earlier in the season-was partly obscured by brush 175 yards away. Alvarez took an offhand shot and sent a bullet square into the buck's shoulder. Though the deer was mortally wounded, he lurched for the pond. A second shot to the neck put him down for keeps. The deer ran a short distance, then piled up in the pond's shallow water, close to shore.

"We then walked over to where he was lying. My brother-in-law was more excited than I was; I guess I was in shock." he says. "The buck had points everywhere, and drop-I never expected to kill a deer with drop."

"Monster" was an apt description of the non-typical whitetail, which had 26 high points and long kickers off its G-2s. The buck green-scored 239-3/8 points and grossed 246. It not only was the biggest deer ever taken on the King Ranch, but also the highest-scoring whitetail killed in Texas in 32 years-a fitting memorial to Rogerio.

Norma Guzman, San Antonio "One Shot, One Record Whitetail"

Norma GuzmanNorma Guzman had never fired at a deer-much less at a trophy buck-before she went hunting with her boyfriend, Ronnie Kresta, two weeks after the deer season opened in Maverick County last year.

They were hunting on a 95,000-acre lease that Kresta manages for trophy whitetails. For over nine years Kresta had been encouraging hunters on the lease to pass up lesser bucks today so they'll grow some extra-large headgear tomorrow.

Perhaps he encouraged the hunters too well, because one of them passed up the buck that Norma Guzman felled on Nov. 22, 1997. The deer had a green-score of 184-2/8 points-the gross was 187-and is the highest-scoring whitetail ever killed in Texas by a woman.

Guzman says the buck was first spotted by Kresta's cousin, David Vaclavik, three seasons back. He saw the buck again in 1996, but let him walk because one of his brow tines was broken. He spotted the buck-a 10-pointer-again last season, but didn't get to study its rack because the deer was too distant.

"This would be a good buck for Norma to shoot, " Guzman remembers Vaclavik later saying to her boyfriend. "It will probably score about 160, so if you see anything else, don't shoot it."

On Friday evening, Nov. 21, Kresta and Guzman climbed into a tower blind stand in the area where the 10-pointer had been spotted. The buck never showed that evening. On Saturday they got into the blind about 6 a.m. It was cool and a thick fog made it hard to see.

Their blind was situated in brush 100 yards away from a feeder. In front of them was a flat with scattered cactus and mesquite. A light breeze was blowing in their faces. Guzman was nervous because she'd never shot at a deer, and had taken only one practice shot prior to the season. That shot was an inch or two away from the bull's-eye-good enough for deer hunting, Kresta had assured her.

While Kresta was using binoculars to scan for deer to the left of the blind, Guzman spotted several deer emerging from the brush to her right.

"Look, there's some deer coming out," Guzman recalls telling her companion. "Then Ronnie handed me the binoculars and said, 'See if that's the one David has been talking about.' I looked immediately at the brow tines-David said the buck had brow tines that kind of went inward-and I said, 'Oh, God.' "

Minutes passed in the cramped 4-by-4 stand, and Guzman, trying to keep her rifle trained on the big buck-in the vital zone Kresta had instructed her to aim for-soon started to fidget, once losing the buck in her sights, then refocusing on another, smaller buck.

"Ronnie whispered, 'You need to go ahead and shoot. He's not going to stand there for a long time.' And I said, 'I can't right now. There's a doe in the way.' He said, 'There's no doe in the way. Don't shoot! . . . He's to the left.' And I said, 'Oh, there he is again.' "

The time was 7:05 a.m. and the feeder was set to go off at 7:15-an unnatural noise that would likely spook the big buck. Guzman needed to shoot soon or the hunt would be over.

"Ronnie said, 'Just aim and pull the trigger real slow.' I had the scope on him, so I kind of closed my eyes and pulled the trigger . . . "

The deer dropped instantly. The hunters waited, then cautiously approached the downed animal. Peering down at the huge buck, Kresta told Guzman, "I'm not a scorer, but I think you've just killed a book deer."

That was an understatement. Not only was Norma Guzman's buck the best deer ever killed in Texas by a woman, with an outside spread of 24-1/8 inches and tines extending to 14-1/8 inches, it was the highest-scoring 10-point whitetail taken in Texas by *anybody*.

The 1998-1999 deer season begins in November. Everybody feels lucky on the first day of the season.

Step up to the table and place your bet.

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