Looking at the Texas Big Game Awards Program website this week as I prepared to write a story about the 2019 early archery season, a look back at whitetail bucks taken by local hunters over the last several seasons brought a big smile.
Because that look back served as a solid reminder of just how good we have things locally — for the moment at least, as urban expansion surges northward — when it comes to Texomaland deer hunting possibilities.
On the eve of the Sept. 29-Nov. 1 early archery season here in Grayson County, a year of heavy rainfall and good habitat have led once again to good antler development and solid fawn recruitment.
That should prove to be inspirational for those archers looking to tag the whitetail buck of a lifetime…or just simply put a legal buck or doe in the freezer for a wintertime supply of venison.
If it’s a bruiser buck that you’re most interested in, expect to hear about several big local monster bucks once again being added to the pages of the Grayson County Whitetail Record Book (GCWRB) that I’ve endeavored to keep down through the years — more on that in coming weeks.
With more than 100 bucks already deemed worthy of inclusion in the GCWRB thanks to their record book listings in TBGA, the Pope and Young Club, and the Boone and Crockett Club, I certainly expect to get a few more calls this year as a certified measurer for each record keeping entity.
Many of those will hail from Grayson County, which has put on quite a show over the years. As you might recall, that show started a generation ago with the Hagerman Hat Racks, a pair of massive non-typical bucks arrowed in 1995. Those twin bucks from Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge included the 200 5/8-inch bruiser taken by the late Forrest “Junior” Robertson of Sherman and the 201 3/8-inch giant taken by Donnie Brewer of Dodd City.
Don’t forget to add in Jeff Duncan’s one-time state record “Big Boy” to the nostalgic look back at great Grayson County whitetails, a 2001 Hagerman NWR whitetail that scores 225 7/8-inches on the non-typical scale.
Or the B&C non-typical twins taken by Brock Benson (201 2/8-inches) and his dad Mike (201 1/8-inches) back in 2007. Then there’s Jim Lillis’ massive Hagerman NWR typical in 2007, which scores 175 2/8-inches. Also remember the great 219 1/8-inch non-typical taken in southwestern Grayson County by Robert Taylor and the 205 1/8-inch bruiser non-typical arrowed by Ray Petree, both of those Booner bucks taken in 2012.
And finally, don’t overlook Todd Svane’s 2017 non-typical monster from private ground in Grayson County, a huge buck that scores 225 1/8-inches. Or Dale Moses’ Bullwinkle and Captain Hook; or the Booners taken by Donnie Herod, Bob Peters, and
Keith Kimberlin; or the slew of good bucks taken over the years by Bill Plauche, Taylor Strawn, Hunter Graham, Dustin Sandlin, Wes Duncan, Mark Wade, Mike Corzine, Donna Petree and plenty more.
While all of those bucks were certainly great headline stealers down through the years, last year’s whitetail hunts locally also turned the spotlight back on Grayson County once again. And keep in mind that in addition to the great bucks listed below, there were one or two good ones that hunters decided to keep quiet about.
In the fall of 2018, Todd Thompson’s big Grayson County buck led the local contingent of whitetails listed in the Region 5 listings for TBGA. Thompson’s great whitetail had a gross score of 192 4/8-inches and a net score of 187 6/8-inches.
Taken miles away from the Hagerman NWR region that so many think of when they consider big Grayson County whitetails, Thompson’s big non-typical ranked second in Region 5, falling behind only Chad Jones’ massive Collin County bowkill.
That latter buck, by the way, had a gross score of 238 6/8-inches and a net score of 233 7/8-inches, one of the great all-time bucks ever taken in the North Texas region.
Thompson’s deer wasn’t the only Grayson County bruiser taken last fall as local bowhunting guru Dale Moses added his name to the TBGA record book yet again. Moses took a buck with massive antlers last fall, a non-typical that gross scored 192 3/8-inches and net scored 182 3/8-inches.
And don’t forget Gary Bennett, who made sure that the typical side of the record book ledger got dented again in Grayson County last fall. Bennett’s fine buck had a gross typical score of 144 7/8-inches and a net score of 135 2/8-inches.
Add in Rodney Owen’s big typical gun kill from Hunt County — which gross scored 181 4/8-inches and net scored 171 7/8-inches — as well as Todd Maxey’s huge Fannin County non-typical gun kill — which gross scored 201 3/8-inches and net scored 181 4/8-inches — and the 2018-19 season was a fantastic one for hunters across North Texas.
And after a year of more heavy rain and lush green habitat conditions — not to mention hunters who grow food plots, pass on young bucks, and intensively manage their hunting grounds for big whitetails — and there’s little doubt that the forthcoming season won’t bring more of the same.
Who knows, maybe the 2019-20 season will add it’s own chapter to the ongoing legacy of great deer hunting here in the Red River Valley.
And with a little luck and some timely weather conditions, maybe this is the season that we’ll all talk about for many years to come.