Rack Magazine

Making the Grade

Making the Grade

By Rusty Johnson

The taxidermy tag on this set of antlers read “MINE.”

Try telling Ryan Odenbrett that life is fair.

He wanted to go bowhunting on the cool gray afternoon of Oct. 20. He knew exactly which stand to visit, too. But the conflicted sophomore at Southern Missouri really needed every available hour to study for a biology test.

Or did he?

His dad, Scott, made the decision easy.

“You study for your test, and I’ll hunt that stand,” he told Ryan.

Scott owns a taxidermy shop in Exeter, Mo., and he’d been too busy to that point in the season to hunt. Although it was late in the day, he was eager to watch the sunset from a deer stand.

The 60-acre farm the Odenbretts hunt isn’t very far from their house. The terrain there is perfect whitetail habitat. There are two logged-over draws, ample oaks, a field with a small pond and a thicket —everything a deer needs.

Oh, and at least one giant buck. Scott had missed it the previous year during a December muzzleloader hunt. All he had to show for that was a fouled barrel and a piece of antler.

The fixed-position stand both son and father favored was hanging near a fence corner at the field’s edge. The fence line was littered with fresh scrapes.

The absence of wind fueled Scott’s desire to be afield.

Arriving at the Barry County farm close to 5:00, Scott went to the fence-corner stand. Shortly after pulling up his Mathews bow and ranging lanes, he decided to jumpstart things by flipping his bleat canister about four times.

Almost immediately, he spotted a deer on the opposite side of the brushy draw. It wasted no time in dipping into the hollow and coming up Scott’s side. And the closer it got, the more familiar the huge buck looked.

Scott wasn’t sure, since he was almost hyperventilating, but it might well have been the same one he’d missed the previous season.

The deer came straight to Scott, which was good, but the bowhunter had nothing to shoot. He couldn’t even risk picking up his bow until the deer was at 25 yards and happened to look the other way.

The buck came all the way to within four yards of his tree, and then it stopped and looked up at the man-turned-statue.

Making the GradeFortunately for the shell-shocked hunter, something else got the buck’s attention, and it looked away long enough for Scott to loose an arrow. He’d been in his stand no more than 10 minutes.

The buck didn’t engage afterburners. It merely hopped off and out of sight.

Scott waited about 20 minutes before getting down to check for blood. The arrow didn’t pass through the deer, at first, but it did work its way out after about 10 yards, leaving ample sign for about 30. When the trail started to fade, he called one of his good friends, Bryan Robbins, to discuss what he should do.

After talking to Bryan, Scott decided not to push his luck until the next morning.

The two of them and another good friend, Shannon Antle, returned to the spot after a long night of waiting. They tracked the buck to a fence, which is where its wound reopened.

They found the animal a short distance farther. It had traveled about 300 yards after the nearly point-blank shot.

The three buddies were speechless when they approached the 28-pointer, which far exceeded Scott’s expectations.

The buck made the grade.

Ryan made the grade.

And Scott wound up with the largest buck ever to come into his shop, one that didn’t have someone else’s name on it.
Hunter: Scott Odenbrett
BTR Official Score: 240 7/8
BTR Composite Score: 256 6/6
Compound Bow

— Photos Courtesy of Scott Odenbrett

This article was published in the November 2011 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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Copyright 2018 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd