Chris Miraglia’s Stark County 18-pointer is No. 7 among Ohio’s bow-taken Semi-irregulars.
Chris Miraglia looked like one of George Romero’s zombies when he staggered into his suburban Ohio home on Oct. 24, 2011. Had it not been for the goofy grin underneath his bloody and creviced brow, his wife might’ve screamed.
She almost did anyway.
“I got him! I stuck him good!” he mumbled, which, to her, sounded more like “I want to eat your brains!”
And then it registered: Chris had used “him” and “stuck” in the same sentence, which could mean only that he’d put an arrow through Big Boy, a buck with which her husband had become infatuated. But had he field-dressed it with his teeth?
“After I shot Big Boy and saw him lay down, I was hyperventilating,” Chris explained. “I was so intent on keeping my eyes on him, I missed the last three steps on the ladder, went down and hit a tree face-first.
“I split my forehead wide open and was bleeding pretty profusely,” he added. “I was too excited to even care.”
Because Chris had literally been hunting in his back yard outside Canton, the last thing he wanted to do was push the buck out of the small copse of woods and onto a neighbor’s lawn. So he slept fitfully and didn’t return until the following morning.
Chris normally joins his family in southeastern Ohio, where they have a hunting camp. Last fall, however, he opted to stay home and hunt his own little four-acre “wild pocket.”
He knew deer inhabited the strip of woods behind his home, but he had no idea a world-class buck was back there until he set out a trail camera his wife gave him for Christmas. When he first pulled the memory card from it on July 21, the die was cast.
“I’d never seen a buck of that caliber in all the years I have been hunting,” he said. “And to see it in my own back yard was just tremendous.
“Throughout the summer and into fall, we put out the occasional bit of food right in the yard. Mostly does would take care of that, along with a very nice 8-pointer that we had seen in many photographs with the buck I nicknamed Big Boy,” he continued. “About a week before the archery season opened, I put a ladder stand just off the main trail with good shooting lanes in several directions.”
Big Boy disappeared after that day, and he stayed gone for six weeks.
“Just that little bit of intrusion into his space was all it took,” Chris said.
The big buck’s 4x4 buddy continued to visit, however. Chris drew his bow several times during the early season, but he always let off before releasing an arrow. He just couldn’t settle for junior, even though he feared someone else had let the air out of Big Boy.
Eventually, desperate times led to desperate measures.
“I wanted to do whatever I could to get Big Boy back in my territory, so I left a drag line of estrous scent through the thicket and to my stand — something I’d read about, but never tried. I did that on Oct. 14, a Friday, in anticipation for my Saturday hunt. That night, my wife and I sat in our kitchen and watched several bucks sparring in the back yard. I got pictures of seven or eight different bucks and several does that weekend, but none of Big Boy or the 8-pointer,” he said.
Because the fragrant trail drew in so many bucks, Chris decided to try it again the following Friday. He also hung a scent dripper within range of his stand.
“On Sunday, Oct. 23, I was in the tree when Big Boy suddenly appeared right in front of me. I don’t know how he got so close without me seeing him or him seeing me, but there was just no shot before he raised his tail, whirled and disappeared back into the thicket,” Chris said. “I knew right away that I was going to be back there the next evening.”
Chris was sitting at his computer Monday afternoon, looking at photographs taken from the last memory card he’d pulled from his camera, when the doorbell rang. A good friend, Ed Fox, had come to visit, but Chris didn’t have time to chitchat.
“I pretty much told him he couldn’t stay, that I had to get ready,” he said. “When I showed him a picture of the buck, he knew right away I had buck fever, so he said farewell.”
Five minutes after getting dressed, Chris was in his ladder stand.
“About 6:45, I heard deer coming. It was the 8-pointer AND Big Boy. When Big Boy came into the open at 35 yards, I went into automatic mode — to the point I don’t even remember releasing the arrow, but I sure saw it hit the mark,” he said.
“He kicked and fled toward the pond at the back of the thicket,” Chris continued. “I saw him lay down after about 67 yards.
“Dark was coming on pretty quickly, so I decided not to disturb him. I didn’t want him to bust out of the thicket and into the nearby residential area.”
When a sleepy Chris returned at first light on Tuesday, the deer was right where he’d left it.
“I dropped to my knees,” he said. “Although I’d seen at least 100 trail camera pictures, I still could not believe how big he truly was.”
The deer’s body was enormous as well.
“I couldn’t move him 10 feet, so I went to get my four-wheeler. Even then, I couldn’t pull him on the back of it, so I wound up tying him to the back and dragging him to the house,” he said. “My brother showed up just as I got there, and he helped me hang it.”
In other words, Alex would’ve been miserable.
Hunter: Chris Miraglia
BTR Official Score: 176 6/8
BTR Composite Score: 201 3/8
– Photo by Chris Miraglia
This article was published in the July 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.