Tarif Alkhatib is a Texas State Trooper who identifies first and foremost as a dyed-in-the-wool bowhunter. Alkhatib says he’s tagged more than 10 wall-hangers over the last 12 or so years that he’s hunted around home—and that the huge buck he killed on Dec. 8 beats them all. It is one of the most impressive deer arrowed in the state of Texas this season, and the buck could very well beat the current Grayson County record for a typical whitetail.
Grayson County might not have the quantity of whitetails that other Texas counties have, but Alkhatib says the county has a reputation for putting out some high-quality bucks over the years. Located in the northeast corner of the state and bordering Oklahoma, it is one of only four counties in Texas that is designated archery-only. Although there has been a push in recent years to change that designation, more than a few local bowhunters want the county to remain archery-only. That includes Alkhatib, who points to the huge buck that he killed in early December as proof that the current designation should stay.
The 12-point mainframe buck, nicknamed “Shredder” by Alkhatib, was rough-scored by a taxidermist in nearby Fannin County. With a gross score in the upper-190s and a net score in the upper-170s, there’s a good chance Alkhatib’s deer will beat the current Grayson County record for a typical whitetail buck—which is a mainframe 10-pointer with a net score of 175 2/8 inches that was taken from the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge by Jim Lillis in 2007. Only time will tell if that record falls, as the 60-day drying period doesn’t end until early February. But either way, according to local outdoor writer Lynn Burkhead, who broke the news of Alkhatib’s buck in the Herald Democrat, “the buck is also likely to be one of the bigger typical deer shot anywhere in the Lone Star State this fall, regardless of weapon type.”
Alkhatib tells Outdoor Life that regardless of scores or record books, tagging the buck will be one of the most memorable moments of his bowhunting career. Mainly because killing the deer wasn’t just a one-off chance encounter, but rather the result of a dedicated quest for an animal that he diligently pursued and encountered on six separate occasions this season.
“I started watching him last year, and this season he really made home on one of the properties I have in Grayson County,” Alkhatib says, explaining that he has permission to hunt several different properties in Grayson and Collin counties. He maintains a number of different stands and feeders on those properties, along with multiple cell cameras that allowed him to track the buck’s movements in real time.
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“It was crazy how many cameras and stands I had out for this particular deer,” Alkhatib says, adding that his first actual encounter with Shredder was on Nov. 23. He saw the buck a second time the following morning, and although he didn’t have an opportunity to draw his bow on either occasion, he learned a lot about the deer’s aggressive personality.
“That next morning, I saw two smaller bucks trailing a doe, and he comes out of the woods running just like a thoroughbred, blowing at these deer and giving me a show” he says. “And I realized, this deer hates other bucks. He just can’t stand them.”
Alkhatib’s third encounter would occur four or five days later. He says it was a nerve-wracking experience in which he had the buck at 10 yards but never had a good shot opportunity. After that, the deer started using the other side of the 400-acre farm. He continued to capture photos of him, and after hanging a new treestand, he would encounter the buck two more times over the following week.
By that point, he says, “I thought this deer was unkillable because I had encountered him five times and had him in range three different times. I just didn’t have an ethical shot. If anything, I was being more cautious on a deer like this, because man, I’d be sick if I made a poor decision. After seeing him a few times it was getting frustrating, but I didn’t want to force a shot that wasn’t ethical or comfortable in my book.”
Alkhatib’s patience and persistence began to pay off the night of Dec. 7, when he received a photo of Shredder bedded down with a doe near the exact same spot where he had his first encounter with the buck in November. He figured he had a good chance to kill the deer the following morning. Around 9:30 a.m., after sitting in the stand for more than four hours, he finally got the opportunity he needed when Shredder ran off a button buck and presented a slight quartering-to shot at 18 yards. He says the buck didn’t go far before tipping over and ending the game of cat-and-mouse that they had been playing for nearly two weeks straight.
“If it’s the record, cool. And if not, that’s still alright,” Alkhatib says. “I’ve never had a deer officially scored…I’m just not one of those guys. But for this deer I think I owe it to him, especially if he could be the new county record.”