Young hunter's first buck as good as it gets

Published on Sunday, 12 November 2017 17:23 - Written by STEVE KNIGHT/steve@texasalloutdoors.com

After seeing the buck lying on the ground, J.J. Idrogo had a few words for his father.

“Dad, I would not have handed me the gun,” said the 11-year-old Tyler hunter.

The young hunter had just taken his first buck and only his second deer. It was not just any buck, though. It was a 17-point trophy by anyone’s standards.

It was the second good deer J.J. and his dad, John, had seen that morning on their 1,200-acre lease bordering the Sabine River in north Smith County.

“A nice buck came out and I wouldn’t let him shoot. I took the gun away from him and then said to myself I would never do that again,” John recalled of the moment.

Actually, the first deer was too far away for a young hunter armed with a .243, so it may not have been the worst thing the father could have done.

The Idrogos have been hunting together since J.J. was about 3 and his dad had to carry him into deer and duck blinds. With the lesson of having taken the rifle away from his son on that first deer fresh on his mind, John Idrogo knew what to do the next time a buck walked out.

It was the second morning of the season, hot and muggy. A good buck had been taken the day before about a quarter mile away on the same lease, but the Idrogos’ morning was off to a slow start.

“We hadn’t seen a whole lot and I could tell he was getting restless. We had seen one other deer,” Idrogo said.

Although conditions were less than ideal, Idrogo attempted to rattle. Within two minutes the big buck came running out 170 yards away. It appeared so quick J.J. never got a chance to look at its antlers.

“It surprised coming out of nowhere. I didn’t see the size of it since it was my first buck,” he said.

His father did.

“It had been rubbing a tree and there was stuff hanging everywhere. I couldn’t tell if it was velvet or drop tines,” John Idrogo said. “I have killed big mule deer before and they didn’t compare to this deer.”

He immediately told J.J. to take the shot when he had it.

It took a minute for the young hunter to steady himself for the shot.

“I didn’t get a chance to look at the antlers. He was moving at a pretty good pace, not walking too fast, but slow enough I could shoot,” the hunter said.

After the shot, both father and son had the same thought - it was a miss.

“It didn’t budge. It was like it hit an army tank. The tail didn’t move or anything,” John Idrogo said.

After a few seconds, the buck walked off about 20 yards and fell. Having never seen a buck up close, J.J.’s first thought will be a lasting one.

“It was a 200-yard shot and I could see his antlers sticking up in the grass,” he explained.

The deer, believed to have been at least 4 1/2 but most likely 5 1/2 years old, was a 7X6 typical with two non-typical points on each side. It was preliminary rough scored at 190 6/8 non-typical gross and 178 net. It takes 190 net to make the Boone and Crockett record book as a non-typical.

It grossed 175 as a typical, but because of deductions fell to a 147 net score. Because it scores better as a non-typical, that is the way it will be listed.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist Larry LeBeau scored the buck and said it held its mass all the way out on each antler starting at over 5 inches at the base and never dropping below 4 inches. Its longest tine was over 10 inches long.

LeBeau said he inspected the deer for tattoos and holes in its ears that would be sure signs the deer was a liberated pen-reared deer, but found none.

“We weren’t hunting for trophy deer,” the father said a day after the hunt, still awed by the deer’s size.