By Lisa L. Price
Tim Brawner hated to tell his buddies he’d missed “Big Mo.” Everyone had been obsessing over the deer since Tim’s father-in-law, Ronald Harrison, had seen and raved about it to anyone who would listen. Tim knew there would be no end to the ribbing dished out at camp, which was brimming with hunters who had been counting the days until Indiana’s 1989 firearms season opened.
Tim had done his share of scouting for big buck sign on the property owned by Ronald and Robert Harrison. He knew exactly where he wanted to be when the opening bell sounded. And, yes, he was hoping to shoot a buck with a name.
“I found an area where there were lots of trails, and then where many of them intersected,” he said. “The place was riddled with rubs and scrapes, too.”
Tim erected a ladder stand overlooking Buck Central Station. And that’s where he sat on Nov. 11, arriving well before dawn.
“It was a beautiful sunny morning, and it got to be about 40 degrees,” he recalled. “I didn’t see any deer right away, but I heard them moving through there in the dark.
“About a quarter after 9:00, a doe came down the hill and stood near my stand, just watching me,” he said. “She was glued there for at least 10 minutes.”
Tim figured — or at least hoped — the doe wasn’t alone. Fortunately, and wisely, he’d put his ladder stand against a good-sized tree. Turning carefully, using the trunk to shield the movement, he stood and looked behind the tree.
“I saw a buck, or at least its big rack, because its body was behind a thick bush,” Tim said. “As soon as I spotted it, the deer started moving. It had to be Big Mo.
“He was already a good distance from me for a shotgun shot, about 100 yards,” he added. “When he started walking away, I thought I’d better shoot while I could.”
Tim aimed high to compensate for the distance, squeezed the trigger and kept his eyes on the deer.
“He didn’t react at all; didn’t jump; didn’t change direction; and he didn’t change his speed,” he said. “I just knew I’d missed him.”
Tim wallowed in self pity for about 15 minutes. He couldn’t believe he’d actually seen, and then missed Big Mo.
He stayed there until it occurred to him that the buck, shot or unshot, might still be on the other side of that ridge.
Tim snuck down his ladder and started uphill.
“I knew from past experience that there was a big flat, grassy area at the top of that steep hill,” he said. “I was hoping he’d be up there, milling around with that doe.”
The hillside was so steep that Tim had to crawl up, grabbing at vegetation and bracing himself against trees. He crossed the area where he’d seen the buck and taken the shot, but, as he’d feared, there was no sign of a hit.
When he finally reached the crest, he rose slowly, gun at the ready. He stood for a moment, catching his breath and scanning the clearing, but he saw nothing, and his heart sank. His dream of catching Big Mo tending the doe in the high grasses seemed better fitted for a pipe.
And then the wind picked up, shifted toward him, and the aroma of buck — dead buck — filled Tim’s nostrils.
“I could smell him,” Tim said. “He was lying dead in the field, not 10 yards in front of me.”
Tim’s shot had been dead-on perfect. The slug traveled the length of the buck’s body, back to front, and lodged in his neck. Tim was open-mouthed as he took in the size of the rack and counted the 16 points.
“That’s when buck fever set in,” he said. “I tried to field-dress him, and I had to stop because I was shaking too violently.”
As Tim dragged the buck down the steep hill, an idea came to mind.
“You’d have to know our group. They’re all a bunch of pranksters,” he said. “We always meet for lunch, and I figured I’d play a little joke on them for a change.”
During lunch, members of the group discussed their morning hunts. Several had taken deer, and deer retrievals are group efforts.
“When they asked me how many points my buck had, I told them it was such a small buck, it was probably still missing its mama,” Tim said. “I suggested we go to mine first, just to get it out of the way.”
Tim had hidden the buck behind a brush pile. When the group rounded the cover and saw Big Mo, they all danced like children around a maypole.
“I made sure we went to get my father-in-law, because he’s the one who got me interested in hunting,” Tim said.
“As soon as we loaded the buck in an old orange truck, we took him to a little store to check it in.
“While we were inside, some more people came in and were talking about the size of the buck outside in the orange truck,” he added. “It was like a vacuum cleaner sucked everybody out of that store.”
Tim got the 176-pound (field-dressed) buck to his home about 11 a.m. Area residents came by as late as midnight to see it. A wildlife official who took a look said Big Mo was only 2 1/2 years old.
Tim’s friend, Archie Witt, did the taxidermy.
Twenty-one years passed before Tim decided to have the antlers measured.
“This past year, a buck that could be Big Mo’s twin was seen,” he said. “That gave me the kick I needed to go get the first Big Mo scored.”
Official Score: 201 4/8
Composite Score: 226
– Photos Courtesy of Tim Brawner
This article was published in the August 2011 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.