On Eve of Texas/OU, Both Sides of Red River Shine for Big Bucks

By Lynn Burkhead

Herald Democrat

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s supposed to be a little gridiron skirmish happening this weekend to the south of the Red River in Dallas.

At stake in the Cotton Bowl tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 p.m. are the coveted Red River bragging rights — not to mention the Golden Hat — for the next year as Texas or Oklahoma will make its scoreboard claim concerning who has the better college football program.

Do keep in mind that the winner of the Red River Showdown tomorrow afternoon isn’t the only matter of pressing concern this weekend on a lot of folk’s mind, regardless of whether you love Bevo or the Sooners.

Especially for those wearing Mossy Oak or Realtree camouflage, hunters who climb up into a treestand on either side of the border stream with an unused deer tag in their back pocket.

Which leads to a fun Red River rivalry kind of question. And that’s who has the better whitetail hunting opportunities - particularly for big record book bucks — hunters on the Longhorn side of the Red River or those climbing into treestands on the Sooner side?

To be sure, Texas is a top-end program in the deer hunting world with just more than four million whitetails across the vast state, deer that spur on a multi-million dollar hunting industry that sings loudly thanks to more than a half a million hunters chasing bucks each year.

The birthplace of many of the modern deer management ideas that are practiced around the country these days, the Lone Star State is one of the best spots to go to if a so-called “Booner Buck” is the goal.

(Editor’s Note: For admission into the Boone and Crockett Club all-time records, a buck must net score at least 170-inches (typical) or 195-inches (non-typical). For admission into the bowhunting record book maintained by the Pope & Young Club, the minimum net numbers are 125 inches (typical) and 155-inches (non-typical).)

How solid is Texas in the “book buck” department? According to a poster put out by the Quality Deer Management Association (www.qdma.com ) a few years ago, Texas at that time was the ninth best state in the country with a total of 1,176 such bucks being reported. Of that number, 747 were entered into the P&Y records while 429 were entered into the B&C book.

How about Oklahoma? The Sooner State checked in at a very respectable 18th place overall in terms of getting a “book buck” with a total of 350 such bucks reported. Of that figure, 224 were in the Pope & Young archery record book while 126 were in the B&C book.

How about the top end bucks in both states, both the typical and the non-typical variety?

In Texas, the state Boone and Crockett record typical is a 196 4/8-inch buck from Maverick County down in the brush country of South Texas. Dubbed the “Maverick Monster,” the 1963 buck taken by hunter Tom McCulloch remains the top Texas typical more than 50 years after it bolted across a sendero, not to mention still a “Top 50” buck here on the North American continent.

What about on the non-typical side? The top Texas buck there remains the massive Brady Buck, a legendary 47-point buck taken by an unknown cowboy back in 1892 in Mason County. The buck - harvested not far from Mason — was a one-time Boone and Crockett world record thanks to its 284 3/8-inch score and is still good enough for a “Top 10” all-time ranking.

What about on the Oklahoma side of the Red River?

The top B&C typical in the Sooner State is a 192 5/8-inch buck taken in Pushmataha County in 2007 by Jason Boyett. That buck, the current state record, is also a “Top 100” buck all-time anywhere in North America.

On the non-typical side of the ledger, the top B&C buck is a 247 2/8-inch monster with 30 points. Taken by Bill Foster in 1970, that buck was taken in Johnston County (to the north of Lake Texoma) and still ranks highly (#112 in the fifth edition of the Boone and Crockett Club’s Records of North American Whitetail Deer).

What’s the bottom line here in the antlered Red River rivalry? That while Texas might be pretty good when it comes to big buck hunting action, the Bevo backers have nothing on their Sooner State deer hunting counterparts to the north of the river.

Because the truth of the matter is that whether you are rooting for Bevo’s roar or the Sooners’ proverbial magic in the Cotton Bowl this weekend, the deer hunting is pretty good — even world class — on both sides of the Red River.

In other words, it’s about as good as it gets. And if you’ve got a ticket — an unused Texas or Oklahoma deer tag — then consider yourself one lucky hunter regardless of which state you hunt in this fall.