By Bobby Beeman
My hunt for this magnificent buck actually began while I was vacationing in July 1997. I was traveling through Wyoming with my family. As we drove parallel to a river one evening, I reminded everyone to be on the lookout for deer. I never go on vacation without my binoculars, spotting scope and video camera. Within minutes, I caught a glimpse of a whitetail bounding away, but I saw enough to know this buck had more headgear than any deer I’d ever seen.
That glimpse so tantalized me that I extended the stop another day in hopes that I would see the buck again and get some video of him. I did. That night and the next, I crept into the coulees where I’d seen the buck and got some footage of him and another nice typical.
Coincidentally, I had put in for the draw to hunt in another part of Wyoming earlier in the year and hadn’t been drawn. Now, I’m more than glad it didn’t happen.
When we got home to Arizona, I did my homework and located the rancher who owned the property where I’d seen the monster buck. We spoke at length about the possibility of my hunting on his land, and he graciously gave his permission. Next, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that crossbows are legal in Wyoming. Since I had been thinking about getting one, I viewed this as a golden opportunity — assuming I would be drawn on my next attempt. So, once again, I put in for the draw in Wyoming, and I bought myself a crossbow.
On July 1, 1998, I found out I had indeed been drawn for the zone I wanted. In August, my boy and I went back for a weeklong scouting trip. Every day, we glassed fields, checked out areas and covered the brush, but we never saw Mr. Big. The local ranchers hadn’t seen the buck that year.
Nonetheless, in five days, I learned more about an area of land than most people learn in several years, just by getting in there and staying, walking, learning the trails and patterns, and looking for sheds. Just before we left Wyoming for home, a rancher told me that his nephew might have found a shed antler of the buck.
Needless to say, I got the boy’s number and called him when I got home. Sure enough, he had the shed. I described it to him over the phone, from my video of the buck. The young man agreed to give me the antler when I returned to hunt. Amazingly enough, another rancher gave me a copy of a still-shot photo he’d taken of this buck in 1996.
When I returned to Wyoming to hunt, I spent the first day in my treestand down in the coulees by the river. That morning, a beautiful 150-class buck came by, as well as several other smaller bucks. I felt really good, having seen these deer, but I saw no sign of the megabuck. I didn’t even know if he was still alive.
In the afternoon, I set up another treestand to give me another option, then came back to my first stand and saw six bucks. I videotaped them feeding underneath me. Several were still in velvet.
The next morning, I returned to the same spot, thinking I’d try it for one more day before moving to the new location to give the area a break. I was set up in the first tree in a row of six cottonwoods, and two trails intersected beneath me. Just as day was breaking, I heard a click behind me. I leaned out to look back and saw something big. I thought to myself, "I didn’t know there were any red Hereford cows in this field, especially with horns."
I had to have another look and, when I did, I nearly fell out of the tree. There was the huge buck. His antlers were enormous. My range-finder showed him to be 100 yards off, and it took him 10 long minutes to amble closer to the trail.
He came by just out of crossbow range. I wasn’t comfortable with a shot beyond 50 yards, and there he stood at 64. He casually moved behind a tree, into the willows, and disappeared. I was so excited. The buck was still out there! About 30 minutes later, more bucks came by and I put the video camera on them.
I kept a close watch on the tamaracks and cattails where the buck had disappeared, and something in the midst of them appeared to be antler. Every so often I would tape it with my finger in the lens and whisper, "I think there’s a deer lying right there." A little later, a peek through my binoculars confirmed that the massive buck was indeed bedded there.
When he finally got up, I nearly wet my pants. His rack was almost in full velvet, and strips were hanging off each side. I debated with myself about getting down and trying a stalk or staying put. I stayed where I was. I didn’t want to spook him into the next county. The buck started rubbing his antlers on the tamaracks and meandered into the thicker stuff while I taped him.
I repositioned a little higher in my tree to get a better view and a 160-class typical caught my attention. I filmed him briefly until the giant buck crashed out of the bush, crossed through an adjacent opening and jumped a nearby fence.
I knew a trail ran on the other side of the fence, and I decided to hurry down and try to intercept him farther down the trail. Slowly, I made my way over to my point of intercept, and the buck had walked into some cattails at least 6 feet tall and ravaged them. About five minutes later, he came out and I filmed him again until he disappeared once more in the brush.
At this point, it was getting warm. I decided to break for lunch. But first, I moved my treestand to the other side of the cottonwoods, where I’d have a much closer shot at him if he came by like he had done that morning.
Back in town, I called my wife and told her that I was not coming home until I either shot the buck or heard that someone else did. I had 30 days to hunt if need be, and I was prepared to stay for the duration.
I returned to my stand that evening, settled in, picked out various ranges and got ready. I had even drawn a little map that showed several bushes and their ranges and put it on the tree, so I could judge a shot at quick glance. The trail ran parallel to my stand, and if the buck came out at the same spot as he’d used in the morning, he’d be 35 yards from me. There was a low spot in the grass, too, where I hoped the deer would stand still for me. Everywhere else, the grass was belly deep on the deer.
Eventually, the game started showing up – does, pheasants, some bucks. At 6:30, Mr. Beautiful stepped out, right where I was expecting him to, and he was heading straight toward me ... 150 yards ... 80 yards. Then he stopped and rubbed off the rest of his velvet. This went on for 50 minutes. What an awesome sight it was. When he ceased rubbing, there was perhaps 10 percent of the velvet left on the rack.
Now it was 7:30. The buck backed out of the brush and again started toward me. He hit the trail at exactly 30 yards and turned away from me. When he turned broadside, I grunted at him. He kept walking. I grunted again, louder. He stepped into the low spot in the grass and laid his ears back, like he was looking for a fight. It was then or never, and I prayed, "God, make this arrow fly true. Don’t let me wound this animal."
I aimed the crossbow right behind his shoulder and squeezed off the shot. The bolt buried up to the fletching, and the buck tore off and jumped the fence.
I could see blood. And at that point, a flood of emotions overwhelmed me. The buck slowed to a walk in the field across the fence. I turned on the camera to watch the buck, but it was too late. He staggered and went down before I could capture any more footage.
Right then, I lost it. I couldn’t believe this had all just taken place. Even though I saw the buck fall, there was still a part of me that wasn’t sure it had happened at all.
After 20 minutes of thanking God for the ranchers, the animal, the hunt and the thrill, I went to my buck, knelt down and cried. The buck’s neck, head and rack were covered in blood from the furious rubbing he’d done just an hour beforehand.
I got him field-dressed, but had to leave him there overnight, since no one was available to help me get him out of the woods. However, I packed his chest cavity in ice and was back early the next morning to find everything as it was. As I was taking pictures and basking in the experience, the rancher showed up with a couple of his hands and helped me get the buck out of there. What a great man! I didn’t even have to ask for help.
Finally, I loaded up the buck and went to eat at the cafe, where I had gotten to know some of the good folks in town. As people were admiring the buck, yet another rancher approached me and said that he might have this buck’s shed antler from the previous year. I followed him home, and found that he did indeed possess the buck’s left shed. He graciously gave it to me. Later that night, I met the young man who had the right side and acquired it, too.
I’m going to have both the actual rack and the sheds mounted, so folks can appreciate this terrific buck. Hunting this animal has been a lesson to me in persistence and not throwing in the towel. A buck like this doesn’t come around very often, but when he does, it’s important to do all you can do -- even when it seems impossible to harvest him.
For me, it’s been an unbelievable experience that has fallen into my lap, and I thank God for letting me harvest this buck.
Editor’s Note: The Beeman Buck scores 259 5/8 as an Irregular in the BTR’s crossbow category. The 1997 sheds (together) score 244.