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"A Buck of Two Lifetimes"

Gene's Big Buck
Gene's buck is an 8x8, 38 inches wide and grosses 216.
In September of 2000, I received a call from my good friend, Lambert Callado, who informed me of the unimaginable. I had received a mule deer tag for the Jicarilla in New Mexico. For those who don't know, the Jicarilla is one of best, if not the best, areas for trophy caliber mule deer in the world.
To say the least, I was very excited to hear the great news. I had turned the tag down in 1999 because I had triple bi-pass surgery only a couple months earlier. There was know way I could have made the hunt in 1999, so I had asked Merl Elote, director of the Jicarilla Game & Fish, if they could consider me for the 2000 hunt. They did and I got the tag!

In had hunted elk on the Jicarilla in the past and used guide Lambert Callado. He knew the country well and has always done a great job, so I knew that he was the man for the job and would do his best to help me find a trophy buck.

On the first morning of our hunt, we headed out at about 6:00 a.m. Lambert told me of a buck that his son, Duane, had filmed. He said that it was a giant and described the buck in detail. He quickly had me fired up and excited to find the old mossback.

We hunted the area hard all day and saw several great bucks, many that were trophy caliber, but Lambert insisted that I wait for the giant. He continued to remind me of just how big the buck we were looking for was. That helped to keep my finger off the trigger while watching all the other great bucks.

At about 4:00 p.m. that afternoon, Lambert and I were on the road moving to another location, when suddenly, I spotted a buck on a hillside to my right. I quickly pointed the buck out to Lambert, who scrambled for the binoculars. "That's him", Lambert said with lots of excitement. I jumped from the truck and found a good rest and took aim. What an opportunity!

Gene's Big Buck
The buck is massive all the way out!
The buck was only 250 yards away, but just as I squeeze a round off, the buck began moving. It was a miss! I put another round in the chamber and fired a second shot. The buck just kept going up the hill and finally over the top. We hurried back into the truck and took off. The road we were on would lead us to the other side of the hill, and we were hopeful that we would see the buck again.

We rounded the hill and began spotting. 20 minutes passed before we spotted the buck again and we discovered that I had hit him earlier. He was down when we first saw him, but was trying to get back to his feet and get away. It was too late and my final shot did the job.

Now that the buck was down, my excitement doubled. I was eager to get up there a see just how big he was. As we walked up to the buck, I was in total awe. We put the tape on him and discovered that he was 38 inches wide and had an incredible 44 inches of mass. Lambert was right, the buck was unbelievable!

After returning to Dulce with my trophy, I was congratulated by everyone who enjoyed seeing big bucks. Larson Panzy, another Jicarilla hunting guide, made the statement, "That's a buck of two lifetimes." I think he is right. I consider the great buck to be both Lambert's and mine. I think he was as excited as I was, maybe more.

I know that I would never have had a hunt like this if it had not been for the great management of Merl Elote and the Jicarilla Game & Fish Department. They have done an excellent job! With management like they have and guides like Lambert Callado, a hunter really has an excellent chance for a true "Wallhanger".

Written by Gene Thompson