[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://www.biggame.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/untamed.png[/author_image] [author_info]Larry Weishuhn is a widely known writer, speaker, raconteur and world hunter. He co-hosts “DSC’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” on Pursuit Channel, CarbonTV and the show’s YouTube Channel.[/author_info] [/author]
“What is this fascination with buck’s antlers when he has a tine which grew down rather than up? I don’t understand!” questioned the person serving customers in the small-town restaurant, as they left food on their plates and charged out the door to have a better look at the buck a hunter just pulled up in front with. I was amazed the meal server even paid attention to what was going on, or that she knew there was now a drop-tine buck out front.
Moments later men and women dressed in hunting attire crowded around the successful hunter and drop-tine buck, all were in slack-jaw awe of the buck’s antlers which had ten points up, including main beams, and one point down, a drop-tine! Admittedly, I was one of those ogling the buck’s antlers, and prodding for information where the lucky hunter had taken his prize, hoping too, to hear his story.
Listening to the successful hunter regale his tale, my mind drifted to another time years earlier. As a youngster, I remember a neighbor shooting a buck that had a point “sort of hanging” from the main beam. For whatever reason, that tine fascinated me. I asked if there was a name for such a downward pointing tine, as it was the first whitetail rack I had ever so encountered. “Drop-tine!” He responded, “Been hunting all my life and taken a lot of nice bucks, but never one with a drop-tine. I’ve been wanting such a buck for as long as I can remember.” Not sure how old our neighbor was, but he had gray hair, was wrinkled from years of life “in the open”, was bent and walked with a limp. I remember thinking a drop-tine must indeed be something truly special!
During my fledgling years as a hunter, then as a wildlife biologist, I learned drop-tines are indeed rare. Occasionally though rarely, I saw a mounted whitetail with a drop-tine, and each time was thoroughly fascinated.
I well remember the first drop-tine buck I saw from a helicopter while doing a game survey. I was flying a ranch east of Uvalde with Al Brothers, long-time friend and co-author of “Producing Quality Whitetails”. I had just replaced his co-author, Murphy Ray, as the State’s technical assistance biologist for South Texas. The very first buck we saw from the helicopter, as Al was trying to “show me the ropes”, was a double drop-tine buck, a drop-tine from each beam. I was thoroughly surprised and impressed.
My first drop-tine encounter, where I was actually hunting for myself, was on the property in South Texas’ Wild Horse Desert. I encountered a buck just before day’s end of legal shooting time, as I still hunted my way back to camp. I could tell the buck’s rack was wide, tall eight points, and then saw a drop, a little over an inch long hanging from one beam and another nearly as long from the other beam. I nearly dropped my rifle in excitement. Thankfully I recovered and shot my first drop-tine! I was ecstatic!
Over the years I have taken some other drop-tine bucks. And all have been as exciting as my first. I have never tired of encountering or seeing bucks with drop-tines, which indeed in true wild areas are exceedingly rare.
My interest in drop-tines, although never gone, was recently again brought to the surface and the forefront. I was on the FTW Ranch (www.ftwsaam.com) to visit with Tim Fallon, and pick up a new .280 Remington Mountain Rifle, topped with a Trijicon Ten Mile scope, and shooting Hornady’s Precision Hunter 150-grain ELD-X ammo, a combination I had the FTW’s crew to put together for me for an upcoming mule deer hunt. While on the FTW I visited with fellow hunters Ronnie and Molly Young. Ms. Molly, an experienced world-wide hunter who years ago fell in love with hunting Africa, was on the FTW to tune up her shooting but also to hunt whitetails. “I’d really like to shoot a drop-tine!” she told Tim over a delicious dinner.
Tim nodded, “There are some bucks with drops on the ranch, but finding them, can be extremely tough…but…you never know. Bucks here are just starting to rut, which sometimes brings old-timers out of the brushy canyons….”
The next morning Tim and I walked out of the lodge just in time to see Ms. Molly and her guide “Eff” Hernandez pull up to the skinning shed. On the front of the Jeep was a deer, an impressive massive antlered, long-tined typical ten. And…he had a drop-tine, not just a drop-tine but a very long drop! Ms. Molly was all smiles, as was Eff..and immediately the same could be said for Tim and me.
I congratulated Ms. Molly, then took a close look at her buck’s antlers. “Ms. Molly, I am horribly jealous! You shot my dream buck! Of the drop-tine bucks, I have seen as a hunter, wildlife biologist, admirer of whitetail antlers, your buck is pure perfection!”
I have no doubt I will never again see a finer drop-tine than the one taken by Ms. Molly, but I will be trying. My search is renewed and continues.
Regardless of what is going on in the world, there are always small things, of beauty and splendor, for us to enjoy, admire and appreciate!
Watch “DSC’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” TV show on our YouTube Channel, or on CarbonTV.
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