Texas bowhunter Tarif Alkhatib arrowed a county-record buck last year that currently ranks No. 4 overall among the Lone Star State’s Pope & Young typical whitetails. He continued his hot streak this past fall, taking a pair of impressive bucks in adjacent archery-only counties in North Texas. In fact, 2022 was the third straight year that Alkhatib has doubled up on big bucks, tagging six trophy bucks altogether, whose gross scores taken together tally more than 1,000 inches of antler, including the 2021 county-record whitetail, which grossed a whopping 199 5/8 inches as a typical.
Alkhatib, a corporal in the Texas Highway Patrol, took a 180-class 12-pointer with double drop tines November 5th in Grayson County, where he lives in Pottsboro, a small town 75 miles north of Dallas. He followed that with a 160-class 15-pointer on November 27th in Collin County, which borders Grayson to the south.
“To kill two deer with a bow three seasons in a row, I’m lucky,” Alkhatib says. “I do feel like there is a lot of luck involved. But I also believe that letting deer mature and letting some deer pass has really paid off.”
The 2022 Grayson County Buck
As is the case with most of the bucks Alkhatib targets, he had a long history with both of his 2022 trophies. “I first laid eyes on the Grayson County buck in 2017, when he was just a slick 8-pointer that I believed to be 3 ½ to 4 ½ years old,” Alkhatib tells F&S. “Definitely a beautiful deer, but I’m always going after something a lot bigger. I knew he was gonna be a deer to keep my eye on.”
The next year, the buck’s rack blew up to 150 inches, with a split G2. “That’s a giant 8-pointer,” Alkhatib says. “But I was after a bigger buck. In 2019, the deer was even bigger, but Alkhatib ended up taking a 189-inch buck in Grayson County that year. By 2021, the buck was sporting a 9-point rack pushing 170-inches, but Alkhatib was again on an even bigger buck—the 199-inch gross typical that would prove to be the No. 4 archery buck in the state. He shot that deer on Dec. 8.
As Alkhatib’s thoughts turned to the 2022 season, the now 9 ½-year-old buck was definitely on his list—with one caveat. “Typicals are great, but I like bucks with some trash,” he says. “I thought, How cool would it be if he grew a big drop tine? Well, sure enough, by summer of ’22, while he was forming his rack, I start seeing a drop tine and then a second drop tine come out. And I said to myself, Man, he is the buck I want to go after.“
Alkhatib stayed off the big deer’s turf until Nov. 5, when he got a trail-cam shot of the buck walking past a scrape at 10:45 a.m. By that afternoon, he was in a nearby tree stand—his first time hunting that property in two years. “I knew he was in the area, knew where he would most likely be coming from because I’d watched him do it before and watched other deer do the same on my cameras,” he says. After seeing three does pass by, Alkhatib spotted the target buck heading his way.
“It was pretty much textbook: He was going to that scrape, and he came by and gave me a perfect 22-yard quartering away shot. I tucked the arrow right in there and saw it come out the other side when he ran off. I gave him a good two hours because I didn’t actually see or hear him drop, but he made it only 60 or 70 yards.”
A rack he’d estimated at 170 inches ended up grossing 184 2/8. “I was very happy when I laid hands on him,” Alkhatib says. “His score’s phenomenal for what he is. Just the 8-point frame alone tops 150 inches. He’s got an inside spread of 25 inches and one main beam a little over 28 inches. Just a phenomenal deer.”
The 2022 Collin County Buck
Three weeks later, Alkhatib was back in the woods in neighboring Collin County, this time on a whitetail he’d been watching since 2016. The deer was at the top of his hit list in 2018, as a 6 ½-year-old buck with a big 8×9 rack in the mid-180s. “He was freaking awesome, but I never got an opportunity on him,“ Alkhatib says. “I had him in the early season, and then he just disappeared.”
In 2019 the buck broke up his rack by the end of October, earning him a pass for the year. Alkhatib shot a different deer on the same property that grossed 172. In 2020, he saw the buck twice from his stand but never got a shot. By now, the aging whitetail’s rack had decreased in size to the 160s. In 2021 he didn’t see the buck at all.
By 2022, the now 10 ½-year-old whitetail was again showing up on Alkhatib’s trail cams. After getting daylight pictures of him on November 24th, he hunted from sunup to sundown on the 25th and spotted the buck twice. “I watched him take a doe away from another buck that morning, and that evening I saw him with her still locked on.” Heavy rain kept him out of his stand on the 26th, but he was determined to hunt on the 27th.
“I had a red moon that would be peaking around 4:06 that afternoon,” says Alkhatib, who is a follower of moon proponent Adam Hays and a recent edition to the Hays’ “Team 200” television show. “I didn’t really like the stand I was in, because it felt like I was naked out there on that tree, but I knew it was where I needed to be. He came by a little too close for comfort—just 12 yards—but the blood trail looked like a grenade went off. I shot him at 4:37 p.m., within 30 minutes of the red moon peak.”
Alkhatib’s second buck of the season sported 15 scoreable points and tallied a gross score of 166 1/8, bringing his total for year to 350 inches of antler. Combined with a 343-inch season in 2021 (with bucks that grossed 144 and 199 inches) and 327 inches in 2020 (with bucks that grossed 172 and 155) Alkhatib has tagged a total of 1,020 inches of Texas trophy racks in the last three years. That’s a pretty hefty pay-off on patience.
“Up here in North Texas, we’ve got good genetics, but I think age is key. I’m all about shooting the most mature deer I have on my properties,” Alkhatib says. “You have to give deer time to mature and reach their max potential, that’s all there is to it.”