Trophy Buck on the Run

| April 07, 2005

Hicks uses the woods behind his rural Carrrollton, Ala., home for target practice.

The wind had Ricky Hicks wondering.

It was cold, as dawn hadn’t arrived in the central Alabama woods. The shooting house was creaking and groaning in the blustering winter wind, old pieces of tin clanging and scraping against each other. Like most hunters, Hicks wanted to hear squirrels and birds start going about their everyday lives, reassuring him that he was undetected.

“We built that (shooting) house with any old material we could find,” says the 39-year-old owner-operator from Carrollton, Ala. “I couldn’t hear anything else that morning.”

Hicks grew up around hunting and trucking and he has never strayed far from either. Both of them are a way of life for him.

Hicks had reached the house at 5 a.m. on a morning close to the freezing point. When dawn arrived at 6:15, he was looking out over woods that he had scouted a few days earlier with buddy Ben McDaniel, who was in another shooting house not far away. Hicks’ shooting house looked straight down a ridge, which fell steeply into hollows on either side.

“We knew there were bucks there, somewhere. We’d found a lot of paths and the scrapes they leave behind to mark their territory, and we found damage they’d done with their antlers in the brush,” recalls Hicks. “I saw some does just after sunup, then nothing. Then I saw a deer coming up the ridge. It was 300 yards away and behind all sorts of cover. All I could see was the shape.”

The loose tin kept rattling in the wind, but the shape kept moving behind the cover of the trees. “I couldn’t tell if it was a doe or a buck or even how big it was,” says Hicks. “But when it got to one of the scrapes, I guessed he was a buck looking for his does. He was stamping his feet and shaking his head. He kept coming up the ridge, but I still couldn’t see him clearly.”

Hicks raised his Savage 300, trying to find signs of antlers in the scope. That’s when the icy wind helped him. “The buck smelled the does and he just took off. The minute he moved there was no doubt he was a buck, he was big and had a nice rack, that’s all I knew,” Hicks says. “I was aiming and moving with him but the rifle barrel hit the post on the corner of the shooting house. I had to pull it down and aim again, and man, was he moving.”

Hicks knows these woods extremely well. Carrollton was where he was born and he began hunting when he was barely a teen. A lot of the hunting was not for trophies, but for food. To this day, with the help of McDaniel, he processes much of what he kills.

Carrollton was where Hicks learned to drive a truck, too. “Daddy drove anything up to about 300 miles out,” he recalls. “In the summer my job was to go with him and help with whatever he was hauling, whether it was mail, a van or a flatbed.

“I probably wasn’t 14 years old when I’d hear him coming home and I’d run out and he’d get out of the tractor in front of the house. It was my job to turn it around and back it up – no matter what the load was or what sort of trailer – so he’d be ready to go in the morning.”

Hicks went straight to work as a trucker, pulling flatbeds, mostly out of the Southeast and the Carolinas into Texas. “I could swing through this way and stop at the house and see my wife and my girls,” he says. “But when they got a little older I wanted to be home with them.”

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