Archive for Sunday, December 22, 2002

Phony Texas deer skull big draw

Realistic-looking ersatz antlers might score 3,000 on B&C scale

December 22, 2002


Art, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Albany has more genuine art on display in its Old Jail Museum than any small West Texas town.

West of Albany is where you'll see unusual pasture art that's more likely to appeal to the legions of deer hunters who drive through West Texas in the fall.

In a pasture just across a barbed-wire fence near the Newell Ranch entrance sits what appears to be a deer skull, complete with antlers. This deer skull is as big as an elephant's skull with antler tines longer than fence posts.

They surely grow big whitetails in Shackleford County. An enormous 12-pointer with a drop tine was shot in this neck of the woods in 1991.

It was killed by a lucky San Antonio hunter named Steve O'Carroll and it ranks as the fifth-best typical whitetail reported in Texas. It scored 190 2/8 Boone and Crockett points.

The deer skull decorating the Newell Ranch pasture would dwarf the O'Carroll deer. Surprisingly, K.C. Jones can't tell you what the deer antlers on his family's ranch would score.

"I never really thought about it like that," said Jones with a laugh. "If I had to guess, I'd say the antlers would score about 3,000. They were constructed from oilfield steel by Throckmorton artist Joe Barrington. Joe moved them here about 18 months ago on a flatbed trailer and unloaded them with a winch."

Jones is not much worried about thieves making off with his unusual wildlife art. He figures the realistic-looking deer skull weighs about 2,500 pounds. It's also anchored to the ground.

"I've had a lot of fun with that deer skull," Jones said. "My wife and I went to Africa last year and I had a lady from our church ask me if the skull was something I shot while I was hunting in Africa."

The deer skull has attracted a lot of attention from passersby. Though crossing a fence onto private property without permission is considered the eighth deadly sin in West Texas, motorists often do to get near Jones' deer skull.

Jones has driven up to the ranch gate while kids holding rifles posed for photos beside the giant skull. One time, there were five adult archery hunters surrounding the antlers while one of their buddies snapped a photo.

At night, motorists sometimes shine their car lights across the fence for a better look.

A serious deer hunter himself, Jones is willing to overlook a little harmless fence hopping by passersby who share his appreciation for good art.

"That's the kind of deer we're trying to grow on our ranch," he said.

The skull is located near the gate to the Newell Ranch on the north side of Highway 6 a few miles west of Albany.

There's a convenient turnout, so you can pull off the road and enjoy the art without creating a traffic hazard.

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