By Lisa L. Price
If Mark Lueder hadn’t been accompanied by a friend on those summer nights back in 2008, he might’ve convinced himself the drop-tined buck had been a mirage. Because when Indiana’s bow season opened that year, the whitetail vanished like the last Lay’s potato chip.
“Me and a hunting buddy, Bobby Simpson, like spotlighting during the summer months (which is legal in Indiana, sans firearms) to see what sort of bucks are out there,” Mark said. “We keep an eye on quite a few Posey County farms we can hunt.
“One night, we saw a really nice buck with four does about 100 yards off the road. We couldn’t believe the number of points its rack had, including a really big drop tine.
“We went back and watched that deer every night,” Mark continued. “When Indiana put in a one-buck rule a couple years ago, that really helped. We’re seeing a lot more big deer now.”
Mark bowhunted the entire archery season, but he never saw the drop-tined giant. He had no idea where the deer was spending its days. He suspected — through process of elimination — that it was seeking refuge within the only area he hadn’t hunted. It was a piece of ground his parents, Gary and Sherri, liked to hunt.
“I was actually hoping my mom would shoot this deer. She usually outdoes everybody in the family during hunting season. She’s the hunter. We all just try to follow her lead,” he said.
Even so, Mark couldn’t shake the vision of that enormous whitetail, even as he worked to harvest corn and beans and put in third-shift hours at his regular job.
On Nov. 23, after working four of his scheduled eight hours, he decided to burn some comp time and head to the woods. It was shotgun season.
“It was calm, sunny and in the 40s,” he said. “It was also getting late in the year, as far as rut action goes, so I wasn’t really optimistic.”
Mark was already tired when he settled into a fixed-position stand, but his heavy eyelids soon snapped upward.
“I hadn’t been in the stand long before the drop-tined buck showed,” he said. “It was trotting like something had spooked it. My shooting lanes were limited and quickly disappearing, but I finally saw my chance, got it in the scope and shot.”
The buck kept running.
Bobby was hunting in a stand nearby. Just a few moments earlier, he’d seen a buck heading toward Mark’s stand and assumed his pal had shot that one.
“No,” Mark told him, “I shot the big one.”
Although the enormous whitetail had run toward Bobby after the shot, Mark’s friend never saw it, which was welcomed news.
“I felt good about the shot, so I got down from my stand to look for the deer,” Mark said. “There was a big pile of limbs and fallen trees, and the blood trail led into that.
“When I reached the brush, the buck jumped up and took off running again,” he added. “That time, my buddy saw it.”
The trail was easy to follow and eventually led the men into a field, where Mark fully expected to find his buck.
After jumping the deer a second time, however, the guys stopped. They went back to the house and waited a couple of hours, during which Mark called the adjoining landowner to gain permission to follow the wounded buck’s trail onto his land.
When the search resumed, they jumped the deer again, and Mark got off a shot.
“The trail led us past three unoccupied deer stands, and we also heard a shot ahead of us. I think we were both sick when we heard that shot.”
They needn’t have worried, though, because they found the deer a short time later.
Mark’s first shot had been right behind the buck’s shoulder, but high. The second shot had connected as well.
“A lot of people drove to the house to see the deer,” Mark said. “Even the local conservation officer came by to take pictures, and he aged it at 3 1/2. The buck was the talk of the town for quite a long time, and my kids still talk about it. Or to it.
“My 5-year-old daughter, Gracie, has named the deer Ellie Moosa,” he laughed. “And my 2-year-old son, Jake, tells the deer ‘good night’ every night.”
Hunter: Mark Lueder
Official Score: 186 7/8
Composite Score: 203 1/8
– Photos courtesy of Mark Lueder
This article was published in the Winter 2010 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.