I’d planned to go hunting after work on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011. I had three spots in mind: where I’d found a beautiful 2-year-old, 8-point set of sheds the previous spring (about a 110-inch buck), a place that required a 35-minute drive and a 45-minute walk, and public ground where three nice bucks were rumored to be living.
Wind direction helped me decide on spot No. 3. I had seen one good buck there, and I’d found a nice 5-point shed there in the spring.
The weather that day was breezy and rainy. The wind was out of the east and was supposed to be changing to westerly. By the time I was finished working, the wind had started to change direction. I went home to take a shower before heading to the woods.
Before I climbed my tree in a large double oak, 40 yards off a cornfield with rape and oats planted in front of the corn, I sprayed some doe-in-estrus and dominant buck scents on a wick and placed it over a scrape. I also sprayed some nearby trees. It was 3:30 by the time I was aloft.
I ranged a few trees and the distance to the cornfield with my rangefinder. I waited half an hour and then rattled and grunted. My plan was to continue the sequences every 20 minutes.
At 5:25, the rain finally stopped and the wind died. I rattled, scanned the area, and then hung up the antlers. When I scanned again, there in the rape and oats stood a deer about 150 yards distant. I could see a rack before I even grabbed the binoculars.
After glassing the buck, I couldn’t believe the size of its antlers. The first thing that came to mind was that it had to be a 170-incher.
When I grunted a couple of times, the stud started walking my way.
As it headed toward me, I thought it was a massive 10-pointer, but when it was closer, I noticed a split P-2 on the left side, making the brute at least a 5x6.
The adrenalin was pumping full throttle as it continued heading my way. I had to pull myself together before this giant got any closer!
Trying not to look at the enormous rack, I grabbed my bow and prepared for the shot. I had to position my bow between the two oaks, one tree to my back, the other to my right. I slowly moved my bow up and around the first oak. Now I had to swing my nocked arrow into position.
Afterward, I attached my release and held tension on the string. A second later, I was horrified as my arrow dropped 20 feet to the ground with a loud “TINK” as it first hit the tree. The nock had pulled off the string as I was moving.
Talk about panic!
I had the biggest buck I had ever seen closing the distance, and I was scrambling for another arrow. After nocking one and checking it three times, I was ready.
Fortunately for me, the buck never heard or paid any mind to the noise. It was in the cornfield then, still working its way toward me. I lost it in the corn for a few seconds, but then I saw its rack sticking above the stalks ... still coming.
It was approaching an opening: 50 yards. The distance was 40 yards to the corn, and the buck was about 10 yards beyond that.
I must not have cleared my head enough, though, because I used my 40-yard pin and shot under the deer. I’d missed the buck of a lifetime, which ran out of the corn and back into the rape and oats.
Desperate, I began to grunt loudly with my mouth until the deer stopped. I quickly grabbed my grunt call and grunted twice more. I could not believe it when the buck started walking around the cornfield, back in my direction. Meanwhile, I nocked another arrow.
Before the buck reached the opening, I drew my bow and waited for my second opportunity. But the deer stopped about five yards from a clear shot. I waited at full draw for half a minute, which felt like five minutes. Finally, it resumed walking, stopping again at 55 yards.
That time, my arrow hit it right behind the shoulder, and the deer bolted. As it ran, I saw a bit of arrow protruding, and then I lost sight after it covered 80 yards.
I got down immediately to see if I could find the first arrow with which I’d missed. When I didn’t find it, I walked to check on the blood trail where I had hit the deer. There wasn’t any.
I walked to my stand (still on the base of the tree), grabbed my backpack and headed for the car. Coyotes started howling and yipping, and I felt a little sick as I walked.
I tried calling my wife to tell her about what had just happened, but I had no cell reception. Back at the car, I put my bow in its case and noticed someone approaching in a truck. It was my brother, Andy, who lives on the dead end road. I told him I had just shot the biggest buck I’d ever seen.
He said, “Let’s go get him,” but I told him I wasn’t sure about the shot. We decided to give the deer a little time and went to his house to get a lantern and another flashlight.
After 20 minutes, we headed back out to look for blood. I drove my car to the edge of the field, parked and lit the lantern. We walked the trail where I last saw the monster. This time, I found blood right away, and we were tracking. The blood trail was good and, to top things off, I found an old 4-point shed right on the blood trail.
The whole time, I held the lantern up, looking ahead for any sign of the brute. After approximately 100 to 150 yards of tracking, I held the lantern up and saw a GIANT racked deer on the ground. I said, “Andy, he’s right here,” but I wasn’t sure if it was dead.
Slowly, we walked up on the deer, both of us amazed at the size of the rack. It was a lot bigger than I’d thought. Andy said, “That thing looks like a reindeer!” And all I could say was “Holy Crap … Holy Crap!”
I grabbed the rack and started counting the points. I couldn’t believe it, and I started shaking.
After tagging the deer and calming down a little, we started taking pictures and video of this awesome buck. I started texting and sending pictures of the giant to family and friends. The whole time we were dragging the buck out, my phone was going crazy with calls.
When we finally got to the car, I realized I’d left my knife in the woods. Andy went back for it, and I shot some more video of the buck and answered more phone calls. After Andy got back to the car, we loaded the deer. I ran the rope through the windows of my car and tied the buck securely to the back.
Too bad I couldn’t open the door to get in the car. In the excitement of everything, I didn’t open the doors when I ran the rope through the windows. So we jumped in like the Duke boys and drove to Andy’s house.
That night and the next day was a lot of fun driving around, showing off the buck. I was surprised at how many people stopped to check out the giant when I was at a gas station and in front of the local newspaper office. There were people taking pictures everywhere I went.
Even while we were going down the road, people were taking cell phone pictures while driving behind me and at stop signs.
Hunter: Rory Leszczynski
Official Score: 179
Composite Score: 197 1/8
– Photos Courtesy of Rory Leszczynski
This article was published in the August 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.