The Life and Times of ’Heart Attack“: Part Two (An encore presentation)

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I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the copter go in to a steep banking dive. My heart went into that now familiar flutter as I gunned the Polaris six-wheeler into action, racing to the spot where I had seen the net gunner shoot the capture net at the ground. Within minutes, the elusive buck that had dominated my thoughts and dreams since seeing him at a distance over two years before, was incredibly now wrapped up in my arms. If ever there was a case where ground shrinkage did not occur, this was it! With great awe, I grasped the antlers between the G-1's and G-2's, and noted that my hand was not big enough to get around the massive circumferences, which were more palmated than circular in shape.

As shook as "Heart Attack" was, I really think I was initially in worse shape. But as I began to get my wits together while we worked to get him out of the capture net, I became very concerned about him going into shock. Some deer occasionally do so due to the stress of capture. I began stroking his head and neck and talking to him gently, just like you might one of your pets. Amazingly, he responded immediately, and his breathing slowed to a normal rate within minutes. During those moments, the two of us bonded in an almost eerie sort of way, and I have felt a strong kinship to him ever since. If you have ever felt a deep devotion to a special dog that has become literally part of your family, you can begin to understand how I have felt for "Heart Attack".

From the time I first saw him with my dad, I had formed a premonition that there was something more to this deer than just another huge buck. It was as if he was a special gift from God to me, but along with him came a requirement of taking care of him responsibly. I sensed that there was a purpose to his being there with me that went beyond what I was able to know. Even now, I believe that the final chapter on his life and his purpose for existing on my ranch has not been written.

BASIC FOOD PLOT CAREHerbicides: It is best to keep food plots free of unwanted plants (weeds & grasses) to maximize forage production.

The use of herbicides is a great tool to alleviate weed problems. First the field should be kept clean to ensure that the unwanted plants are not able to seed out.

It is important to identify the primary plant species you are trying to control. It is much easier to kill weeds at an early stage than to wait. Pre-emergent herbicides will help stop a majority of the weeds from establishing. If the problem persist, apply a post-emergent herbicide to control existing weeds and grasses. Herbicides can usually be purchased in both spray and granular form. It is very important to know what type of plants the herbicides will control.

Cultivation: Cultivation is the process of cleaning the weeds from between the rows of desired plants. This should be done when both plants and weeds are young. Once the food plots are mature it is very difficult to cultivate without harming the plants.

Moisture: It is best to plant warm and cool season plots on different sites when moisture is limited. Warm season plots should be kept clean from September or October until time to plant during the spring. Banking the moisture helps food plots to establish faster and produce forage longer. Areas with high rainfall can double crop food plots without needing to separate fields.

Fertilization/Liming: Soil samples should be taken from each field being planted to ensure the best results. Some soils are more suited than others for farming. If a soil test is unattainable, a recommended use of about 300-400 pounds of a balanced fertilizer should be used. It is best to have a pH of 5.8-7.0. The Southeast has a problem with acidic soils. This condition can be overcome by adding lime. It is best to know the pH before adding lime. If the pH cannot be determined it is best to add about 1000 pounds of lime per acre. Consult your County Extension Agent for additional information.

He has done more for me than I ever dreamed possible, and in life he has been far more special than he ever could have been had I been willing to try and harvest him. His images have given joy to thousands as they have graced the covers of numerous publications as well as filled the screens of Real Tree's TV show. Along with the other tremendous bucks we did harvest, "Heart Attack" created a stir of publicity that gave credibility to our food plot program, proving that indeed they do make a huge difference. In the process, I was literally forced into the seed business. The icing on the cake was when David Morris joined with me this past year to help others achieve their dreams as well, and Tecomate products became available through local dealers nationwide. "Heart Attacks" mounted sheds have stirred the hearts of many like mine as they have traveled around to hunting shows with the Tecomate Seed Co. display.

HEART ATTACK’S NEW LIFE AT TECOMATE
"Heart Attack" thrived in his new home, and produced his best rack there the next year at the age of 6.5. The image of that rack can be seen on the back cover of David Morris's latest book on trophy whitetails. We considered using that photo on the T-shirt because it was his biggest, but settled on a picture taken last year at 9.5. By then his rack was not nearly as big as when he was in his prime, but the quality of the photo and beauty of the background won out over the picture with the larger rack.

It has been very interesting to watch him respond to the increasing stresses of the rut he faced each year due not only to his advancing age, but more importantly because of the increasing competition from his sons. I had been able to keep him in surprisingly great shape by providing excellent high protein, high-energy legume forages available on a year-around basis. Tragically, that all changed this past winter when I really believe we almost lost him because of an experiment I was doing with food plot seeds!

Every year I experiment with new forages and I also plant the forages of our competitors to be certain that we remain on the cutting edge of deer nutrition. I believe strongly that one should never promote and sell seeds that have not been proven out locally first, and I always use the Tecomate deer as the first Ginny-pigs. Last year I wanted to try out a new non-legume forage that was being promoted heavily by one of our competitors. I had never used it before, and as far as I knew, it may have been all it was cracked up to be. I received the seed late, so the easiest thing to do was to just add it to one of my cool season blends that I was already planting. To say that it grew would be the understatement of the year. It produced an incredible amount of forage, and virtually overwhelmed my legume forages. I was extremely impressed with the amount of forage at first, until I saw that the deer would not eat it!

I have learned before to never judge a crop's palatability too soon, because there is definitely a learning curve for deer who have never seen it before. After several months however, they did begin to eat it somewhat. Unfortunately, it then gave most of my deer the "scours", including "Heart Attack". It would break your heart to see his picture, taken by pro-photographer Bill Draker in March 2000. In the photo, he can be seen with the green stains around his mouth from feeding in the field, and he literally has"foam" in his mouth. Beneath that majestic rack is the rail thin body of and old buck that has just not gotten enough nutrition. It tore my heart out to think that my experimentation likely did it to him.

Has he survived this strain of being deprived his accustomed forages at such an old age? Although Rogelio and my wife believe they have seen him, I have not since March. Disappearing acts like this are typical of him, but each and every time I worry that this may indeed be the time that he really has left us. One day, he really will.

I had considered selling the ranch I had moved him to and went so far as to place adds for it. The operating expenses and time requirements more than double when trying to operate two ranches twenty miles apart. But on a recent outing looking for "Heart Attack", my daughter and I had one of those incredible days afield, when it seemed as though there was a huge buck behind every bush. On several occasions, we thought it was he, only to realize that we were looking at his sons. None are yet as big as he is, but a surprising number appear well on their way. Among the 30 bucks we counted, none of those over 2-1/2 sported less than 10 points! The remarkable day changed my mind on selling the property. It is hard to do so when your kids are asking you not to. Instead, I will just sell an interest in it when I find the right person.

Many have asked why I did not harvest "Heart Attack" or sell him to a hunter. I have certainly had some shockingly big offers to do so, but I have never come close to caving in to the pressure. Although he is in every since of the word a wild deer, the image in the minds of many of the public is mistakenly that of a tame buck, and I worried about the potential negative reaction. The future of hunting depends to a great extent on the image we portray to the public, and each of us has a responsibility to uphold the ethic. Once "Heart Attack" became known, people formed their opinions and will hold to those be they right or wrong. Jealousy alone can trigger adverse response, so for the sake of hunting, it was essential that I not harvest "Heart Attack". But even if this had not been an issue, I could never have killed this deer because of what he had come to mean to me personally.

ANOTHER RANCH MIRACLE

In the same year that "Heart Attack" and the other big bucks began turning up on the Tecomate with regularity, my daughter Rebecca and I experienced another miracle together on the ranch. After a terrible horse accident, her life hung by a thread as I fought to keep her alive in the ambulance during the one hour dash to the hospital. Four different times, I gave her up to God and thanked Him for her as her vital signs tip toed to the edge of death, only to have Him give her back. Her survival alone after remaining in a coma for days was an improbable miracle, much less her full recovery and eventual appearance on the cover of Real Tree Magazine!

That incident with her is forever linked to the miraculous appearance of the deer called "Heart Attack". They both defied logic, they both happened in the same year, and they both took place following difficult circumstances in my life where I was convinced that God was at work in both. "Heart Attack" will forever be for me a constant reminder of who truly is responsible for it all, and he deserves to live out his days, however long they may be. All of my dreams have come true, but only by the grace of God who made it all possible. That a deer like that would show up on my ranch: who would have ever thought it could happen? That the girl in that ambulance would one day be hunting with me and take Boone and Crockett Bucks in the same year: who would have ever thought that could happen? In Him and through Him only, miracles really do. This for me is the real reason why "Heart Attack" came to be, to remind us of that fact.

For more information write or contact the Tecomate Seed Co., Tecomate Wildlife Systems, P.O. Box 532046, Harlingen, TX. 78553; http://www.tecomate.com; 1-888-MAX-GAME; (629-4263); Fax: 1-956-364-0933

TECOMATE DEER HARVEST REPORT 1999
The 1999 season was another great year in South Texas. Between the timely rains and good food source management our deer were in top shape.

This past deer season we took a total of 35 hunters with a success rate of over 95%. We sell three typeS of hunts at Tecomate: management, classic and trophies. Our management hunt consists of a 3-day hunt for a mature buck scoring between 125-140 Boone & Crockett inches. This year our management buck averaged 131 B&C. Our classic hunt is a 4-day hunt for a mature buck that scores 140-155 B&C. The classic bucks harvested this year averaged 149 B&C.

Trophy hunts are 5-day hunts for a buck scoring over 155 B&C with an average of 164 B&C harvested this year. Our average field-dressed weight for all of the bucks harvested was 165 pounds.

The two largest bucks taken on the ranch this year were harvested by Dr. Gary Schwarz and his daughter Rebecca. Rebecca’s grossed over 180, netted 171 B&C, and had over 44 inches of mass. Unfortunately, we were unable to find Gary's deer until after the season and it netted a whopping 184 B&C.

What are the chances of a father and daughter both harvesting a deer that would net Boone and Crockett on the same ranch during the same season? This is a true testimony of what intensive food source management can do in improving antler development.

With a tremendous number of quality young bucks seen and several other trophies that were left behind, it is sure to be another promising year ahead.

If you would like to download a copy of the all new Heart Attack computer wallpaper, click here now. Also, look for the Team Realtree Heart Attack t-shirts at your local Wal-Mart, Bass Pro Shop, outdoor retailer, or purchase it online here.