Athens Review, Athens, Texas

November 11, 2012

OUTDOORS: Landing 'Big 8'

East Texas hunter’s buck shy on points, big on final score

Matt Williams
The Athens Review

ANGELINA COUNTY — Eight pointers usually don’t command much respect in hardcore deer hunting circles. Some hunters call them culls. Others say they are inferior in comparison other bucks genetically programmed to stack on more points.

I don’t buy into all that junk. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And in my book, there is nothing more impressive than a mature eight pointer with tall, thick tines, a pudgy neck, buggy eyeballs and a studly demeanor.

If Randy Baker didn’t agree with that way of thinking a week ago, my guess is he is believer now. Baker is a Lufkin hunter who crossed paths with a world class buck on the afternoon Oct. 26 at Pine Island Hunting Club in western Angelina County.

A low fence outfit spanning about 5,000 acres, PI has kicked out some whopper bucks in the past. But never before has anyone killed a deer off the lease with so few points that will score as high as this big boy does.

Technically, the deer is a nine pointer because of a 1 1/8 inch crab claw at the tip of its right brow tine. Other than that, he’s a slick eight. Amazingly, one with all goods to crack the 160 mark before a small handful of deducts.

The buck, which club members nicknamed “Big 8,” was so slick that he actually had two addresses.

Baker said he shot the deer less than 20 minutes into a spur-of-the-moment trip made to his lease last Friday afternoon.

Baker said he had been in the stand for about 10 minutes when he saw a young six pointer feeding in the distance. After losing sight of that deer, the hunter said he looked across an adjacent flat and caught the movement of another deer.

“He was walking right at me at 65 yards,” Baker said. “He was between two trees. When I raised my binoculars all I could see were those brow tines. That’s all it took to make up my mind. I didn’t even have time to get excited.”

Baker dropped the deer with single shot, but didn’t realize its true majesty until nearly an hour later when he finally decided to go take a closer look.

“I stayed in the stand for 45 minutes hoping to kill a doe, and I almost did it,” Baker said. “Then I texted Kevin Smithhart and told him I thought I had a toad on the ground. He told me I better go have a look.”

What Baker discovered is one of the highest scoring eight pointers reported in eastern Texas during the last decade, and the highest scoring typical recorded in the 80-year history the Pine Island Club.

The rack sports 11 3/8 and 9 7/8 inch daggers for brow tines, G2s measuring 10 6/8 and 9 5/8 inches and G3s measuring 9 1/8 and 9 3/8 inches. Add in main beam lengths of 24 5/8 and 25 inches, circumference measurements and a 19-inch inside spread and gross tally comes to 160 4/8. After deducts the rack nets 154 1/8 as a typical.

Matt Williams is a freelance writer based in Nacogdoches. He can be reached by e-mail, mattwilliams@netdot.com.