November 16, 2022
By Josh Honeycutt
Nathan Martin had history with a great deer. He’d been keeping tabs on it for two years, and even saw the buck in person several times. He’s been hunting as long as he can remember, and this deer is more special than any before it.
“My grandparents purchased the ranch in 1970,” Martin said. “I grew up on the ranch. In 1998, we started into the managed lands program through the state of Texas and began working with the Walnut Bayou Deer Management Association (WBDMA). WBDMA is a collection of adjoining properties totaling over 20,000 acres that is owned by individuals with a common goal of managing their shared free-range deer herd for a healthier population as well as allowing bucks to reach maturity and maintaining a healthy deer population and buck-to-doe ratio.”
That’s paid off in many ways, but especially so on Oct. 3, 2022. The skies were clear with a stiff wind out of the east. The temperature was dipping down into the low 50s. And Martin was hunting a stand he built in a big cottonwood tree the year before. Located in a large bottom along the Red River, he knew the area held some monsters. The landscape is full of cactus flats, wild plum thickets and timber.
The afternoon started slowly, though. However, around 6:00 p.m., a doe and yearling buck led the action. The young buck chased her around until they finally tired of the interaction. About 30 minutes later, a doe and fawn walked into view. Two young bucks followed. Then, another buck. With deer on three sides of him, he couldn’t move. Then, each of them turned and looked northward.
“I heard movement in the leaves that alerted me,” Martin says. “When I first looked, I didn’t see him, as a large limb blocked my view. Next, I heard a twig snap in the same direction. This time, when I looked, I leaned back slightly allowing me to see around the tree limb.”
There stood the giant whitetail, merely 12 yards away, staring up at Martin. When the buck turned away, Martin retreated behind the large limb.
“After surveying the deer in the area, he cut through the edge of the tree line circling downwind of me while checking out the other deer,” Martin says. “As he moved through the cover concealing me from his view, I was able to pick up my bow and hit record on my cell phone camera. As he entered back into clear view, I drew my bow and held as he walked into my shooting lane.”
Once the buck stopped, he took the broadside, 30-yard shot. It connected, and the deer bolted for cover. It ran about 40 yards and tipped over within sight just inside the timber.
“After the deer fell, I sent my dad a text, who was also hunting that evening,” Martin says. “He immediately climbed from his stand and headed to where I was. I waited in the tree until I saw his headlights. Then, I climbed down and waited for him before walking over to recover the deer. It was very special to me to get to share that with my dad who has taught me so much about deer and deer hunting throughout the years and afforded me the opportunity to hunt the ranch.
“From an early age, I always had a goal of shooting a deer that would break the 200-inch mark, as I’m sure most hunters do,” Martin concludes. “I wouldn’t have guessed I would be lucky enough to do it with a bow.”
The deer green scores 209 3/8 inches. Martin estimates it to be 4 1/2 years old.