Octogenarian enters golden age of deer hunting

By Darlene McCormick Sanchez

Lone Star Outdoor News

When it comes to trophy deer hunting in Texas, 81-year-old Don Holden is golden.

In the past 5 years, he has surpassed the wildest expectations of most deer hunters half his age by bagging bucks scoring 200+ inches.

“I don’t believe anybody in the world has (done it),” he said in an interview with LSON. “I killed two this year.”

Not only that, but he bagged three of his 200+ bucks with a crossbow. Don said he is blind in one eye, so he needed to use a bow with a scope. He said it took him a day or two to bag each monster buck after putting down some corn and waiting for his chance.

Don hunts on the family’s lease on Nunley Chittim Ranch in Maverick County, which is a sprawling 1,500-acre low-fence ranch that is surrounded by other low-fence ranches. He said all the deer are native and that they have managed their lease without introducing genetics or getting into a MDL program.

For the past 16 years his son, Brett, has been developing a method to increase the antler growth, which Don attributes to his success. That includes putting out Double Down feed, which the family sells.

Brett is obviously proud of his dad. In an October 2014 post on 2coolfishing.com, he told the story of how his dad got a deer scoring 203-204 inches with a crossbow.

The buck his dad shot showed up on the camera and the family recognized it as one that had scored around 180 four years previously. The buck’s horn growth fell off for two seasons, but bloomed in his 7th year.

“The only way we could hunt the buck this time of the year, not being regular deer season, would be to bow hunt him…. I really wanted my dad to have a chance at this buck before he broke tines,” Brett wrote. “Well yesterday morning my dad and I headed out on our 2nd day looking for the big buck. The deer came in at 22 yards and my dad nailed him with a perfect shot!”

Another key to his success is waiting longer than most to harvest big deer. Don said most people shoot trophy bucks that are 5-6 years old, but on their lease, they target those that are older because of the antler growth spurt after 7 years.

Holden said he has hunted Africa, British Columbia and other distant locals, but nothing beats his experience on the family lease.

“It’s the best place I’ve been on in my life. It’s the best low-fence ranch in Texas,” he said.