*(Scroll down for recipe)
The sound of the rifle shot echoing through the pines and the creek bottom had barely stopped before my cell phone started to vibrate. I did not have to look to see who was calling, as I knew it was my son, Frank, who had just shot.
He was sitting a half mile or so south of me in a stand called “Grizzly” – a metal tower stand that overlooks a small food plot which is surrounded by planted pines. There also is a mowed row in the planted pines that runs to the west, all the way to a pond.
In addition to the food plot drawing the deer, the pond at the end of the mowed row created a barrier that the deer would go around, which meant they frequently crossed the row. Our friend Randy Evans had shot his first buck out of this stand a few weeks earlier.
As I quietly answered the call, I was greeted by a very excited teenager on the other end. Frank was breathing hard from the excitement, but managed to get out, “He’s down!”
“What is he?” I asked.
“I’m not really sure. He’s got at least three points on one side and a strange spike or club on the other. Whatever he is, he’s down. I’m looking at his white belly. He’s got a really big body – bigger than your buck!” Frank responded.
Frank proceeded to tell me that the buck had come from the south, about three quarters of the way down the mowed row, which would have been over 150 yards from the stand. After making sure it was a mature buck, Frank managed to get off a shot before it crossed the row and made it into the thick pines.
When the bullet hit, the buck had run directly away, down the row. As Frank worked the bolt on his Remington 700 .308 and found the buck in his scope for a follow-up shot, the buck fell over at the end of the row.
My curiosity was getting the best of me, so I told Frank that I would be right over. I climbed down out of my stand and quickly made my way to the Grizzly stand. At the far end of the row, I saw Frank’s orange vest and the white belly of the buck.
As I got closer, the buck’s body kept getting bigger. When I got out of the truck and walked over, Frank had a grin that was a mile wide as he made the proclamation, “He’s got four on this side, but look at that thing!”
He was pointing to the strange-looking, single point on the right side of the buck’s rack. I looked at it more closely, thinking it had been broken off in velvet, but it appeared to have grown that way originally. What really got my attention was the size of this buck’s body. I think Frank was more excited about shooting a buck with a strange rack than if the he’d had a matching four-point antler on the right side.
He was definitely an older deer, and his jawbone was later aged at 4.5 to 5.5 years old. As we struggled to load him in the back of my Xterra, I had to agree that
Frank’s buck weighed more than the one I had shot earlier in the season. We then headed to Concord Processing to drop off our final deer of the year.
After letting the buck hang for a little over a week, Frank went to help our friend Dennis Culpepper prepare it for processing. As Frank was skinning the buck and cutting out the back straps, he made a very interesting discovery.
Several of the buck’s vertebrae were fused together and surrounded by scar tissue. Digging through the scar tissue, Frank found what had more than likely caused the deformity of the buck’s rack – bullet fragments.
The buck had been shot high in the spine during a previous season, but had recovered, with the exception of the deformed rack.
Frank and Dennis later cooked up some of the buck, using one of Dennis’s recipes, which he has allowed me to share with you. Frank kept talking about how good this was, so I tried it a couple of weeks ago. I’ve had it three more times since, so it’s safe to say I like it too!
Mr. Culpepper’s Venison Fries
• Venison steak (does NOT need to be choice cuts)
• Worcestershire sauce
• Black pepper
Cut venison into long strips, creating a cut of meat resembling a “steak fry.” Marinate strips in Worcestershire sauce. Combine flour, salt and pepper in a bowl or plastic bag.
Lightly coat marinated strips in seasoned flour. Heat butter in a frying pan on medium heat As butter begins to sizzle, add strips and cook to desired temperature. I typically prefer venison rare or medium rare, but found this recipe turned out better by cooking just a little longer. Let cool slightly and enjoy.
Should any be left over, it makes a great treat to take with you to the woods or on a fishing trip.