It’s big deer time in South Texas and Beaumont hunter Danny Byrom didn’t waste any time in tagging the best deer of his life while hunting on his brother’s ranch in Uvalde. Danny shot his first deer three years ago at the age of 60. That was a 10-pointer.
“I guess I’m doing pretty good at this deer hunting thing,” said Danny. “I’ve only had four hunting licenses in my lifetime. On this particular hunt, I was with my brother Tim and nephew Clint Byrom. We saw the big one with four other bucks.”
We’ve all had some form of buck fever. That’s when you see a huge deer and get the shakes, which usually leads to a missed shot. That’s pretty much what happened to Danny, except he didn’t miss.
“When I saw that buck, I thought my heart was going to pop out of my chest,” he said. “Then I got a cramp in my leg. I was a basket case. Tim kept telling me to shoot.”
When he finally calmed down enough to shoot, the buck was out at about 100 yards. Danny calmly lined up his .270 rifle and made a good shot.
That’s not always how things go when you’ve got a shot at a wall-class buck. I’ve talked to a lot of deer hunters over the years that have missed easy shots at deer well within 100 yards. What usually happens is that they don’t take the time to calm down and get a good and steady rest for the gun. The best way to get a good rest is to carry along a sock filled with dirt or sand. It can be laid on the ledge of the window of your blind. Rest your rifle on that sock and it’ll be rock solid.
Randy Leger at Leger’s Gun Range just west of Beaumont is an ace at shooting tight groups on targets at 100 and 200 yards. He’s mounted scopes on thousands of rifles. What’s his secret for accuracy in the clutch?
“First of all, whenever possible shoot the rifle that you’ll be hunting with,” said Leger. “Practice really does make perfect when dealing with rifles. Use the best scope you can afford and make sure it’s mounted and sighted in correctly. During the season, make sure the scope mounts are tight with no loose screws. When you’re ready to make a shot, breath calmly and squeeze the trigger — don’t jerk it.”
That sounds simple, and it is when you’re on the range. But when you are looking at tagging the monster buck of the woods, all sorts of things can go wrong. Leger says it’s also important to use the same exact ammo you used on the range.
It’s also good to go afield with a rifle that’ll take down the game you’re after. When it comes to deer hunting, there are three calibers that are tried and true for taking down white-tailed deer. They include the 30.06, .270 and .243. A .308 is up there at the top, as is a 7 mm.
The latest deer gun craze centers on the AR-15 in a .223 caliber. Last week I used a Smith & Wesson AR 15 while on a combo deer and pig hunt near Goliad. My first evening on stand was not uneventful. Right at last light, two big black hogs came rumbling out of the brush and promptly ran all the deer away from the feeder at 100 yards out.
I had shot the AR on the range prior to heading out. It was dead on at 100 yards with a 55-grain bullet. Once the heaviest boar got still, I popped it right behind the shoulder. He jerked sideways then ran into the brush and I never saw him again. The shot was right on target but didn’t exit, so there was no blood trail. Conversely, I shot two does the following day at 100 yards – both dropped instantly when hit just behind the shoulder. I’ve shot about five deer over the past few seasons with a .223 bullet – it’s a deadly caliber with very little recoil. But when it comes to putting a big pig on the ground, you’ll be better off putting a .223 in it’s ear.
Don’t forget that the regular gun season on deer throughout most of Texas closes on Jan. 6. The South Texas season is open through Jan. 20.