Curiosity might well have been this whitetail’s undoing.
Alek Muladore might be the only deer hunter to have gasped and huffed his way into the record books.
So shaken by the buck beyond his .410 shotgun’s bead last fall, the 8-year-old’s breathing was more like that of a woman in labor. It was even loud enough for the giant whitetail to hear it, although the animal found the panting sounds more intriguing than alarming.
The boy’s father, meanwhile, was about to have a stroke. The deer was leaving, spooked by three does that had busted the duo at the top of the double ladder stand.
“I think I said ‘Shoot’ 400 times in about two seconds,” admitted Alek’s dad, Justin. “But my son was suffering from buck fever. He was gasping and huffing, and the buck heard him. But instead of running, it turned back to look.
“That’s when Alek finally pulled the trigger,” he added.
The Muladores were hunting the family’s 160-acre farm in Highland County, Ohio. Last year was Alek’s first to carry a firearm, and it was Nov. 20, the first long-anticipated day of the state’s youth hunt.
“On Friday evening, Nov. 19, my buddy, Adam Davis, was going to spend a few hours in the two-man ladder stand we’d planned to be in on Saturday morning. He was bowhunting and agreed to take Alek with him so he could familiarize himself with the surroundings.
“It was a quiet evening, and the pair saw only a few does until just before dark, when Adam spotted a buck moving along the ridge about 70 yards distant. It was a big racked deer that was circling the bottom, but it never came close,” Justin said.
“We were up before 5:30 the next day,” he continued. “Well, I was up at 5:30. Alek decided he was just too tired to go hunting. But Adam and his son were there, and his son convinced Alek to get ready and come along. He told him, ‘You just never know what might come by your stand if you’re not in it.’
“That got us moving, and we were soon on our way to the farm in the early-morning darkness, despite a heavy fog,” Justin said.
“It’s a short drive. When we arrived, we split up and headed into the woods. Alek and I went to the bottom of a deep ravine less than 200 yards from my uncle’s home. It was a buddy stand attached to a sturdy tree beside a dry creek bed.
“That place is old timber, so there isn’t much undergrowth. On a normal day, you can see quite far in several directions, but this wasn’t a normal day. The fog was thick and held low to the bottom.
“There was a slight breeze, however, and every now and then, the fog would simply blow away for minutes at a time, and then it would settle over the valley again. The fog makes it eerily quiet in the woods,” he said.
“We’d been in the stand for only five minutes when I looked over to see Alek sound asleep already. A few minutes after that, I noticed a deer way off to our left. I was able to see antlers, so I nudged my son and told him to get ready because a buck was coming.
“Alek got himself straightened up and put his .410 on the railing. He got the shotgun lined up with the buck, as best I could tell, and was following it as it moved through the bottom. When the buck turned and started to walk away, Alek let out a sigh of disappointment. The buck obviously heard the noise and turned to look straight at us.
“We didn’t know that three does had come up behind and were standing just a few yards from the base of our tree. Alek made a sudden movement with his left arm, and they saw it.
“One doe immediately started blowing and stomping. Within a few seconds, she tore up the hill with the other two close behind, flags waving as they left. I told Alek to get back on the buck and shoot as soon as he had a clear view.
“At the blast, the buck leapt and dashed toward the dry creek. It failed to clear a deadfall, however, and went head first into the creek bed.
“We couldn’t see it, but we heard a lot of noise. I thought for sure he had tagged it for good, but the buck stood again, jumped to the top of the bank and walked away as if nothing had happened,” Justin said.
Grabbing the gun from his son, Justin opened it and began to load a new shell for another shot when Alek yelled out, “Why didn’t he die?”
That was more than the buck could take. It bolted toward the top of the hill and a long-abandoned corral, stopping about 70 yards away to survey the area. That’s when another cloud of fog came through, and they lost sight of it.
When the mist cleared again, there was no sign of the buck.
“After about 30 minutes, I had to get down and see if Alek had hit the deer. I went to the creek bank and looked all over the place. I was sure I would find blood since the buck had done so much wallowing in there, but there wasn’t a drop. I started along its exact path for a good 30 yards and never saw a trace either, so I turned to Alek and said, ‘You must have missed it!’”
“No I didn’t,” Alek blurted. “I had my bead right on it when I shot. I know I hit it!”
“I returned to the stand, and we sat for another hour,” Justin said. “Then, from where we’d last seen the deer, I heard what sounded like two bucks fighting. There was lots of antler rattling going on, so I told Alek that maybe it was the buck he had shot at, sparring with another one.
“It got quiet again, and then the clashing resumed. I stood to get a better look, but I saw nothing.
“Eventually, I couldn’t shake the notion that the buck might be tangled in a dead tree and had been trying to get loose,” he continued. “I sat there another 15 minutes, visualizing it, before I finally got down and resumed my search for blood.
“I went back to the creek and got down on my hands and knees. I found nothing until I stood and noticed a big pile of hair beside a log. I turned to Alek and said, ‘Well, you hit it.’”
“I know I did,” the boy replied. “I told you I did!”
“I went back, and we lowered all our stuff and started walking along the path the buck had taken. Ten yards beyond the clump of hair, I found one small drop of blood on a leaf. We found a second speck 10 yards farther, then another as we moved toward the horse corral.
“When we came to the spot where we had last seen the buck, we found another drop of blood. I stood up as high as I could get and saw the white rear end of the buck in a bunch of dead limbs,” said Justin.
“I pointed to it and told Alek, ‘There’s your deer right over there!’”
The pair ran over to the fallen buck and found it severely tangled in the deadfall. With much effort, Justin pulled the head free and started yelling.
“Alek was like, ‘Why are you so excited?’ I was excited because that was the biggest deer ever taken on this farm. It was way bigger than I had guessed. Alek really had no idea what a significant trophy he’d just shot, but I knew.”
It all became clear to Alek when they spent more than two hours at the check station while every hunter and spectator photographed him with his buck. He finally became tired of all the picture-taking and wanted to go home, so he just stood up and said, “If anybody else wants a picture, it’ll cost a dollar!”
The folks remaining all had a good laugh over that before the Muladores headed for the house.
After the buck was mounted and hung in the home alongside some of his dad’s mounts, Alek made the comment, “Your deer all look pretty small, Dad. When are you going to shoot a big one?”
— Photos by Justin Muladore
Hunter: Alek Muladore This article was published in the Winter 2011 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
BTR Official Score: 178 3/8
BTR Composite Score: 198 3/8
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