Mauricio DeLoera Hernandez was at wit's end.
“I don’t ever see any big deer to shoot at,” he said to his wife, Veronica. “I am going to sell my gun and hunting stuff, and give it up!”
But Veronica was able to talk him down, encouraging to stick with the sport he enjoyed.
Mauricio moved from Mexico to Oklahoma 25 years ago and owns a successful landscaping business. After talking to Oklahoma City taxidermists and hunting guides Mike and Cokis Chain, Mauricio decided to take up deer hunting. The Chains helped teach the new hunter about deer hunting.
Mauricio found a lease in Lincoln County near the Deep Fork River, located an hour northeast of Oklahoma City. The brushy riparian habitat makes the place challenging to hunt. The lease had yielded a few small bucks for Mauricio, but nothing especially big.
“The trees there are very thick, and I have to wade through water to get to my treestand,” Mauricio said. “It is hard to see very far so I bought a brush rifle, hoping it would help.”
Last season, Mauricio faithfully hunted his area every day from the archery opener on Oct. 1, through black-powder season. When gun season opened on Nov. 17, he and a friend hunted the first three days without success. Mauricio was disheartened and wondered if he was wasting his time. He came home from hunting with the intention of giving up the sport, but reconsidered at his wife’s urging.
The next afternoon, Nov. 20, Mauricio and his friend drove to their hunting spot.
Arriving at 4:40 p.m., Mauricio parked his truck, and the duo walked a mile to their treestands. The afternoon was cold and cloudy as Mauricio waded across the chilly, muddy Deep Fork River. He climbed into his treestand and began clashing his rattling antlers together. He also used his can call hoping to lure in a buck.
His wait was brief. He spotted a deer moving through the brush and thought he saw antlers. The buck started thrashing its antlers against a tree before walking into a small opening about 50 yards away. Mauricio took the shot and dropped the buck.
Amazed, Mauricio climbed down from his tree and walked over to see the deer he had shot.
“I was in shock,” he said. “I called my wife and told her that I had fallen down. She asked if I was OK, and I explained, 'I feel down because I am so happy!'"
The gnarly buck is nearly 30 inches wide and has 38 points. The buck was scored 60 days later by Boone & Crockett scorer George Moore, grossing 276 7/8 inches and netting 244 1/8 inches, making the buck the second largest non-typical ever taken in Oklahoma.