"Last year, I told you about a new deer hunting opportunity on the historic Rafter R Ranch in Zavala County, about 90 miles southwest of San Antonio (see "Making The Case For A Management Hunt," April 2002 issue, pages 7-8). Well, the results are now in, and I think they are worth noting.
"The 32,000-acre Rafter R, you'll recall, was once owned by South Texas ranching icon Mary Nan West, a member of the Texas Cowgirls Hall of Fame. The ranch was split in half when she died. The only hunting West allowed was by a small group of law enforcement officers each season. The family also took an occasional deer, as evidenced by the mounts in the ranch headquarters. One of those mounts is a buck that scores 202 B & C non-typical. Another is a gigantic eight-pointer that has 16-inch tines.
"This past hunting season, I rode for several days with Randy Oldfield, the outfitter who books and guides hunts on the Rafter R. In one three-day period, I saw five bucks that would have scored above 150 B & C and one tremendous buck that I believe is the biggest free-ranging typical whitetail I've ever seen. Despite a narrow spread, I think it would gross about 180 B & C typical and should easily net above the 170 minimum for the record book.
"Unfortunately I could not take that buck because he was judged to be no more than 5½ years old and thus too young to harvest. That's what I call a conservative approach to buck harvest! Needless to say, it bodes well for the future of hunting on the Rafter R.
"Two things make all this doubly remarkable. First, the Rafter R offers completely fair-chase hunts. There's no high fence here to keep deer from moving between ranches. Consequently,........(continued)