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Zachary Bock
Zachary Bock • 12/2012 • St. Mary's County , MD • Muzzleloader

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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

Golden Rule Still Honored in Iowa

This 45-pointer from Iowa is one of three whitetails from last season with BTR composite scores exceeding 300 inches. I wrote about one of those, an enormous Kansas buck that succumbed to EHD, last week.

This buck, which succumbed to a bullet wound, grosses 309 2/8.

The man who shot it is Tim Forret, who spends far more time behind the wheels of combines and tractors than he does hunting deer.

He first saw this buck while harvesting beans in 2011. The other time he saw it, the tag in his pocket was good only for an antlerless deer.

Tim and his young son, Zach, became obsessed with the giant whitetail, and they were thrilled to collect several trail cam photos of it in the summer of 2012. They devoted many hours to scheming, setting up a new blind and sighting-in the boy's new muzzleloader, which they agreed to share.

Father and son saw the buck they'd nicknamed Ol' Two Rows (for the way it flattened corn stalks) in the flesh on Sept. 30, while harvesting beans.

Because the drought spurred an earlier-than-usual harvest, Tim was able to get a buck tag for the early muzzleloader season. If he hadn't, his Oct. 20 hunt would've ended much differently.

Tim had lost sight of a couple of bucks he'd been watching and was scanning the woods line when his gaze fell upon a third with a familiar face. Identifying it took maybe one second, even in the fading light.

[Read the rest of this article...]

EHD Claims Biggest Whitetail of 2012

Some of you might've seen photographs of the (gross) 316-incher shot in Indiana last season, a buck we're hoping to measure for "Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records."

Or you probably saw the 309-incher from Iowa that HAS been scored for our record book, a deer we posted on Facebook last weekend.

Neither, however, was the largest to hit the dirt in 2012.

'Twas a tiny female fly — not a bullet, broadhead or Buick — that brought down the largest antlered (wild) whitetail in North America last year. And it might have gone undiscovered had a Kansas man not taken a stroll along a creek bank in search of the buck that had dropped off his nephew's radar.

The deer, while alive, was a well guarded secret within the family. Even now, few people have had the pleasure of ogling its rack.

Photographed regularly by trail camera until late summer 2012, the buck with unfathomable antlers (in velvet at the time) simply disappeared. Clearly, it was either dead or had switched zip codes.

Considering that numerous deer throughout the Midwest succumbed to epizootic hemorrhagic disease last year, and since bucks in velvet rarely seek greener pastures unless pressured, it wasn't difficult to connect the dots.

The deer, in fact, was dead, lying next to the creek with no holes in it — an almost sure sign that it died from contracting EHD. Even more convincing is that the skull and 55-point rack weigh almost nothing; having never reached the dense hard-antler state.

An official BTR score of 315 makes it the largest free-ranging buck ever recorded from Kansas, fifth-largest in the world, and it's No. 3 among the world's biggest pickups, second only to the Barnacle and Hole in the Horn bucks. Its composite score (with the inside spread) is 330 7/8 inches.

The rack's most outstanding feature, other than its 55 scoreable points, is its mass: 67 4/8 inches in circumference measurements. That's nearly 30 more than the Hole in the Horn Buck carries.

Before anyone cries foul, the deer is legit. It wasn't poached. It isn't an escaped breeder buck. The property owner has numerous trail camera photographs of the animal. The man who found it, uncle to the young hunter who set out and monitored the cameras, has a salvage tag issued by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Boo-yah and the Boy

When Laura Fischer answered her phone on the morning of Sept. 8, she didn't expect to hear her 9-year-old son's voice.

"Boo-yah's dead!" squeaked Cade, her youngest.
"Really?" she asked, doubtful, fully aware that the men in her life possess a peculiar sense of humor.
"Really," came the confirmation.

"REALLY?" she asked again, her tone implying a raised eyebrow.
"REALLY!" they replied - they being Cade and his father, Ryan.
"The whole really-really thing has become a regular catchphrase with us, sort of a comedy routine," she laughed. "So it took me a minute to realize they weren't joking."

From the get-go, however, Laura knew exactly what "Boo-yah's dead" meant: the demise of a buck she knew all too well from trail camera photographs. She'd even seen the distinctive animal once on the hoof from behind the wheel of her vehicle.

The Fischers have two sons, Cade and 11-year-old Caleb, both smitten with deer hunting. Caleb has shot two great bucks, the biggest a 174-incher from their own 80 acres in 2011, which is why his little brother had dibs on the first buck during the 2012 youth season.

When the nine-day season opened that Saturday, Ryan and Cade were sitting on stools inside a ground blind that resembles a hay bale on Laura's parents' 40 acres near Williamsburg, Kan.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Bowhunting Gains a Convert

It took only a few seconds last fall for Calvin Gustus to decide he both loves and loathes bowhunting.

The 2012 archery season was the 55-year-old volunteer fireman's first, though he actually paid $50 for a bow in the mid-1980s. After shooting it a few times, he hung it up, forgot about it and, eventually, loaned it to his wife's brother. It took years for his son, Chad (now 31), to convince him that having more than 100 days to hunt is better than the few afforded riflemen in Kansas.

On Saturday, Nov. 17, just about the time Calvin was having serious doubts about his chances of seeing a decent deer within bow range, the biggest buck he'd ever seen strolled within 15 yards of his ladder stand. If it had been rifle season, he'd have smoked it. But squeezing a trigger requires far less movement than drawing a bow, and the deer was staring at him.

Unable to draw, the hunter from Geneseo, Kan., could only appraise the antlers and watch the animal walk out of his life. Afterward, he called Chad, who was hunting the (diagonally) adjacent quarter-section.

"I just seen a 20-point buck!" he stammered.

Chad and Calvin moved the stand that afternoon. They found a tree closer to the deer's trail, but the only way they could put it there was to leave off a section of ladder, which meant the stand would be only about 8 feet high. Chad didn't like the setup, but Calvin was overjoyed.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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