By Gordon Whittington
As with most other intensive whitetail management practices, “game” fences aren’t short on critics. With the stated goal of ensuring fair chase, both Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young refuse to accept any big-game animal shot inside an enclosure. That’s true regardless of acreage, the amount of cover present, hunting method or weapon used.
Of course, there are two sides to every fence. Proponents cite these fences’ effectiveness at keeping young bucks from wandering onto neighboring tracts hunted by folks with an “if it’s brown, it’s down” attitude. Some fence fans also view the ability to keep herd size within the carrying capacity of the habitat, without inheriting more hungry deer from elsewhere, as a real plus. And finally, they see high fencing as a safeguard against uninvited hunters who have a habit of getting “lost” on the wrong side of a property line.
Regardless of your stance on any of this, there’s no doubt high fences go hand in hand with producing bigger-than-average bucks. Often way-bigger-than-average bucks. In many cases, hand-picked genes are part of the reason. At first, specific breeder bucks were simply put into pens to comingle with select does, thus ensuring the “right” deer would produce fawns. Later, artificial insemination techniques developed for livestock found their way into use in the whitetail industry, greatly accelerating the spread of desired bloodlines. And as outlandishly large antlers began to result from generations of genetic tinkering and supplemental feeding, the term “Frankenstein deer” came into vogue.
Many observers now dismiss all high-fenced deer as science experiments instead of wildlife. And again, these deer aren’t legal for the record books. But truth is, not all great whitetails inside fences are results of genetic manipulation that would put a thoroughbred farm to shame. No, some of these mega-bucks are simply native deer, produced through random genetic intersection, that reached their special potential by living long enough in healthy habitat.
One such beast is a buck South Texas landowner Hardy Jackson calls “Junior.” Hardy shot this stunningly big and symmetrical 5x5 typical in mid-November 2013 on his Campos Viejos Ranch, a 1,000-acre high-fenced property in Starr County.
One of the most amazing features of this 5x5 rack is how high it scores despite having relatively ordinary brow tines. But it’s worth noting they’re not short; it’s just that at 5 2/8 and 5 3/8 inches, they’re easily the shortest points on the deer’s head. The G-2s are 13 7/8 and 14 3/8; the G-3s are 13 5/8 and 13 2/8; and the G-4s are 9 6/8 and 9 4/8. The buck also averages over 5 inches per circumference, which is itself super impressive.
Add in the great inside spread of 24 0/8, and you get a gross typical score of 206 3/8 inches. And remember, that’s as a straight 5x5. Now consider the ridiculous symmetry. With only 2 5/8 inches of de-ductions for length differences, and with no abnormal points at all, you get an unofficial net score of 203 6/8 typical. Were there no high fence involved, this would have been the No. 3 10-pointer in B&C history, and easily one of the Top 10 typicals of all time, period.
No matter which side of the fence anyone’s on, I think we all can agree Junior was one of the biggest and most balanced “native” 10-point whitetails ever documented. He’s easily No. 1 for the texanus subspecies, which has produced many great typicals over the past century. While Hardy’s buck isn’t eligible for B&C, his skyscraper tines, uncanny balance and deceptively strong mass make him one for the ages.