A funny thing happened on the way to the doctor...
Justin Hogan was wearing a fresh set of duds when he strolled into the doctor’s office two minutes late on Sept. 24, 2010, but they weren’t the clothes he’d donned when he left the house the first time. Rather than show up looking like a man who’d spent the night on the floor of a drunk tank, he’d rushed back home.
What would the nurses think?
Maybe it was his mother’s long-ago voice, admonishing him to always wear clean underwear in case he was ever in a car wreck and had to be taken to a hospital, that sent him back to the closet. Or maybe he wasn’t hearing voices so much as the blood roaring whitewater-fast through his head.
It was probably the former: his upbringing. Because Justin’s blood pressure, taken soon after he entered the clinic and the very reason he was there, was the lowest it’s ever been.
You know that study a few years ago that concluded deer hunters are far more at risk for heart attack because of the stress, strain and excitement associated with the sport? At least one doctor even came forward and said that every hunter should get a physician’s okay before going after deer.
If that ever comes to pass, Justin won’t have a problem.
His doctor, who’s also a deer hunter, wasn’t as thrilled with the blood pressure reading as he was mad at Justin for leaving a dead mule deer on the ground in order to make the appointment.
Justin had left his house earlier than necessary for the 15-minute drive to town that morning so he could spend a little time glassing his milo field. After five minutes of scanning with binoculars, he saw two muley bucks feeding about 300 or 400 yards distant. He recognized the larger as one of two enormous bucks he’d been keeping tabs on since the summer of 2009.
The big one had to be the buck with a single drop tine. Its regular running mate wore two upside down points, but the rack was at least 20 inches smaller. Justin wasn’t sure if he was looking at the Drop Brothers, but he knew big brother was out there.
With the sun at his back and the wind in his face, Justin stoked his blackpowder rifle and crept to within 200 yards of the duo.
“The milo’s tall enough that if you bend over, they cant see you,” he said, adding that, likewise, you can’t see the deer in the stuff if they’re not on their feet.
“When I got ready to shoot, my first thought was ‘I’m going to miss this deer,’” Justin said. “I’d gone elk hunting in Colorado the previous week, and I missed a bull at only 90 yards. Before that hunt, I’d never missed.
“I was solid on that bull, too,” he continued. “As soon as I saw it, I thought, ‘You are mine, buddy.’”
The elk otherwise known as an unhatched chicken, however, vanished unscathed. It was an uphill shot, and the bullet flew over its back.
Later, when checking the inline muzzleloader’s iron sights, Justin and his hunting partner determined it was shooting anywhere from 15 to 24 inches high. They shot half the 20 bullets he’d taken for the hunt before stopping, adjusting the sights in between, but nothing they did worked; the bullets always hit high.
Before he’d left and when he returned to Kansas, he was murdering milk jugs at 100 yards.
“I don’t know what the deal was with that gun,” he said. “Because of that, my self confidence was zilch. So when I squeezed the trigger on the mule deer, it was like ‘Please let me hit it!’”
Justin was amazed when the big muley dropped at the shot. He was also thrown for a loop when about 15 more deer he hadn’t seen rose out of their beds in the milo and fled.
When he walked up to the downed animal and grabbed its rack, the zombie buck struggled to its feet and ran off, leaving Justin open-mouthed and mush-brained. Fortunately, he’d reloaded before the approach, and the buck slowed to a walk after putting 80 yards between them.
Justin waited until the buck turned slightly to offer a quartering-away target before shooting again.
“That time, I saw steam escaping the hole, and I said, ‘You’re done, buddy,’” he grinned.
When Justin returned from the doctor’s office, he drove to within 200 yards of the buck, dragged it that far, and then loaded the 300-plus-pound animal by himself.
“It was anything but one fluid motion, let me tall ya,” he said.
So where will he hang his latest trophy, a 25-pointer that nets nearly 231 inches?
“We’re out of room,” he says. “My wife, Debbie, told me ‘That’s it!’ about five deer ago. But when she saw this guy, she said we could hang it next to the other muley.”
That other one, at 231 3/8 inches, is the runner-up to the Kansas non-typical muzzleloader record. He shot it in 2007.
His 2010 buck is No. 3 on that same list.
Editor’s Note: If Justin Hogan’s name and face look familiar, it’s because this is the third time he’s been featured in Rack magazine. The first was when he stumbled across the former world-record Typical whitetail in the BTR’s pickup category, a find that garnered our Golden Laurel Citation. The second was after he shot his first giant muley in 2007. Or, since he’s also a BTR scorer, you might have seen his name on the scoresheets of other bucks within these pages.
– Photos Courtesy of Justin Hogan
This article was published in the Winter 2011 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.