Many of you know that I run a Big Buck Contest in the summer and fall, but maybe you don’t know why I love to do it.
It does not take long after you get to know me to figure out that I love the outdoors. As a young boy, I was blessed enough to live in the country. I would walk the long driveways to each of the rancher’s homes nearby to ask permission to explore and fish on their land. With a fishing pole in one hand and a BB Gun in the other, I traveled thousands of acres searching for the magic pond filled with eight-pound bass. Although I never did find the magic pond, the years I spent in the woods taught me a lot and kept my heart full of thrills and adventure. These were some of the best memories of my childhood.
I began hunting whitetails when I was 11 years old. I read through any hunting magazine or hunting book that I could find, fantasizing about getting a trophy buck myself every chance that I had. The first two years, I tried my hardest to hunt on public land in Eastern Oklahoma, but the closest I came to a deer was some old tracks I found in dried mud. On my third year, I finally had my chance. At the time the 2 ½-year-old eight-point was a Boone & Crocket giant to me. I sat freezing under a tree, feet numb from the cold, with my red Haliburton coveralls on that smelt of oil. A couple of does come running within 20 feet of me, stopping to see what the awful oil smell was, and a couple of seconds later, my first buck appeared at 20 yards. I found him in my scope and the rest is history. From that day forward I knew I would be hunting for the rest of my life. The adrenalin was like nothing I had ever felt; I became hooked for life.
Hunting as a full-time hobby
I did not have a lot of luck throughout the rest of my teenage years hunting whitetails. We did not have enough money for a lease and did not have permission to hunt the land my ranching friends allowed me to explore.
Once I graduated high school, I took my first real job. I saved every dollar I could for my first hunting lease, and by the time I was 20, I had saved up enough money to have my first Texas hunting lease. Every day that I was able to get out to the hunting stand, I could not believe I had the chance to see a deer. Since that day I have been on a hunting lease enjoying the fellowship of friends and family. I have been blessed to enjoy many heart-pumping moments in the field — both misses and wins.
Hunting as a family tradition
Through the years I thought I had control over buck fever, but that thought ended one evening in early January 2011. I decided not to take a really long shot on a nice 20” wide 6 ½-year-old eight point on a friend’s ranch on the last day of the Texas rifle season. I did not take a buck that year due to being too picky, and the nice bucks I did see were too young. Walking back to my truck a little depressed, it dawned on me that my 6-year-old daughter Ellie could possibly get her first buck during the late kid’s season.
When I saw Ellie, I asked her if she wanted to learn how to hunt. With excitement, she said YES! We spent the next four afternoons learning gun safety, and how to accurately and ethically take a buck. To my surprise and amazement, she could hit a can at 100 yards. Once I felt like she was ready, we headed to the stand. We had everything a little girl could need to entertain herself in the deer blind with an iPad, books, barbies, and just about every sugar-filled snack and drink you could imagine. The first night we saw the wide eight-point, but he would not stay still enough for Ellie to get steady.
On the second to the last day of the kids season, we had our chance. The buck came in late, and with light fading fast, I knew we had to get ready. Ellie sat on my lap, so she was tall enough to see out the window. As we placed the gun barrel outside of the blind window, I noticed something strange — I was shaking like a leaf and breathing like I just ran a mile. My heart was racing, and no matter how hard I tried to calm myself I couldn’t. Just when I think I have conquered buck fever it hits me like nothing I have ever felt. Ellie tells me she can see the buck in her crosshairs. She then explains she cannot get steady, but I knew it was not her but her Dad who could not get it together. I took a deep breath and held it for what seemed like an eternity. I took a small breath to see if she still had the deer in her scope, then BOOM. The buck kicked his hind legs and darted into the thick mesquite. I knew that was a good sign. We celebrated like we just hit the mega-millions jackpot in the stand for about 20 minutes before taking up the trail. The buck only went 80 yards into the brush before expiring. Wow, what a moment. A 6-year-old girl taking a 6-year-old buck. He was perfect and so was the experience shared with my young daughter.
Since that time
Since that experience, I have hunted much less by myself. My youngest daughter Emma took her first buck last year in 2018. He too was a nice wide 6-year-old eight point. The same excitement I felt with Ellie’s first buck came over me. I cherish these memories being with my daughters in the woods, and both of my daughters’ first bucks are mounted in our home. It brings great joy to relive the moment each time I walk by the beautiful animals.
Hunting is my passion. This passion was the inspiration behind our brand, Trophy Insurance Solutions, but our brand is more than my love for deer or hunting. We all work very hard to earn the trophies we are blessed with in our lives. Whether it’s your business, home, auto, or life, we all need someone to help us protect what we have earned and the things that are important to us. This is what we do and how our brand was created. Protecting your trophy is our job!
The Big Buck Trophy Contest
Every year I run our Big Buck Contest, where the winner gets a belt buckle. We just received the buckle for our contest yesterday. If you’d like to participate, please fill out the form our on Big Buck Contest page to be entered!