Unlike the monsters under beds and in closets, this Ohio buck is the real deal.
When the McGuires go hunting, it’s more like grocery shopping.
Ohio might be home to the country’s most prosperous taxidermists, and Mahoning might be one of the few counties even nonresident hunters are able to cite. But the public and neighboring ground this family has prowled for the last decade has been little more than the Land of Does and Little-bitty Bucks.
Until last year.
“My father, Jim, brothers Jimmy and Darin and I have hunted a large section of public land in northeastern Ohio for many years,” said Brett McGuire. “We never know who might also be hunting beyond the next rise.”
The inherent danger of sharing the woods with all comers is what eventually spurred the family’s menfolk to ask for permission to hunt a neighboring tract.
“We’d noticed that just across the road from where we hunt was a farm with lots of timber, and it didn’t look like anyone was hunting it,” Brett said. “I approached the landowner, Jim Gatto, one day, and he granted us permission to hunt his 40 acres.”
That was 10 years ago, and the McGuires have hunted that piece of property ever since.
“There’s a very good deer population on that farm,” Brett said, “and it draws a lot of animals from the public land when the pressure gets heavy.
“Throughout all those years, however, we mostly harvested does. We just don’t see many mature bucks,” he added.
Not that the men complained, though, since does make better venison.
“Nevertheless, we try to hunt religiously,” Brett said. “Every day of archery or gun season, if we can, we’re out there somewhere.
“One day in 2012, when things were really slow, I lowered myself from my tree and decided to do some still-hunting, thinking I might come across a better setup,” he continued. “I was crossing back and forth from public to private land when I came to an area that showed a lot of promise.
“There were several scrapes, droppings and a couple of torn-up trees,” he said.
“I retrieved my climber and returned to set up on a low ridge overlooking this hot spot. I was just off the private land by a few hundred feet.
“Just after 1:00, I heard splashing in the creek behind me. It was like a plunking sound as each foot splashed in the stream,” Brett continued. “I quickly spun around in my stand and looked, but I didn’t see anything.
“I knew something was coming. I heard when it jumped up on the bank, and I could even see mud swirling in the water where the deer had crossed, but I couldn’t see anything that even remotely looked like a deer.”
And then he did.
When the buck stepped out from behind a huge oak tree, Brett could see only its right antler. The mass was incredible. He’d never seen such in the wild.
“The deer was at 20 yards when I drew my bow, but there was no shot, at first,” he said. “It was angling away from me. I knew it was about to walk out of my life forever, so I decided to take a less-than-ideal shot.
“When the buck finally stopped at 40 yards and lowered its head, I squeezed my release’s trigger. The arrow entered just behind the rib cage — a bit far back, but I thought it wasn’t bad for the angle.
“When the deer bolted, I could see the arrow protruding from its left side,” he added.
Afterward, Brett quickly sent a text message to his brother, Jimmy, who was sitting several hundred yards away.
“You’re full of it,” Jimmy answered. “There are no monsters around here!”
“No, I’m dead serious,” Brett replied.
“Was it a good hit?”
“I think I hit pretty far back. Might be a gut shot.”
Half an hour later, Jimmy texted again: “Are you down out of the tree yet?”
“No, I’m giving it some time.”
“Well, how much time are you going to give it?”
Brett had already started descending.
“When I got over there, I found hair, blood and even some pieces of flesh, so I felt considerably better about the whole thing,” he said. “Jimmy and I bantered back and forth as he questioned me, until he was almost convinced I might be telling the truth.”
“Alright, I’m getting down. I’ll be over in a few minutes,” Jimmy typed.
The brothers took up the blood trail 15 minutes later, but the tap shut off when the buck went uphill. Brett thought he’d seen it heading for the field up top, but the deer actually veered when it was out of sight, jumping over a drainage ditch before going deeper into the woods.
“Jimmy then remembered that he’d heard a crash near his stand, and we began a somewhat methodical search in that direction. We pushed through some of the thickest brush on the property, but to no avail,” Brett said.
“After an hour, I was really disgusted with myself and threw my bow down, declaring that if I had only wounded the deer, I was done with hunting. I was that disgusted!”
Jimmy, trying to soothe his brother’s angst, pointed out that there was still plenty of time to hunt, a declaration that the deer was lost, without saying as much.
“I am going back and starting all over again,” Brett told him.
Jimmy went with him. That time when they ran out of blood near the ditch, they made a wider circle and Brett found two puddles where the buck had bedded. Brett was looking at the blood when Jimmy said, “There it is!”
“By the time I turned to look, the buck was on its feet,” Brett said. “It made two bounds, and then went back to ground.”
Rather than push the wounded buck, the brothers went back to their truck to wait, where they were soon joined by their father, the landowner and his son. For the next hour, Brett was peppered with questions.
When they returned to look for the deer, Jimmy circled around front, hoping the buck, if still alive, might run back toward Brett, who had another arrow nocked and ready. Jimmy saw it first, and when he was 20 yards away, the animal stood and ran another 60 yards, but not toward Brett.
“That’s it!” Brett said. “Let’s back out of here and wait until tomorrow.”
When they returned the next morning, they found the buck curled around a tree, its head upright, which gave them pause, but only because the antlers had caught the tree and were supporting the dead deer’s head.
“I walked in slowly,” Brett said. “When I got in real close, I kicked it in the butt, but it didn’t move.”
The guys took several photographs of the deer where they found it, but except for the ones they snapped with Brett’s cell phone, all were lost.
“It’s funny,” Brett smiled. “My dog chewed up the memory card.
Hunter: Brett McGuire
BTR Score: 198 5/8
– Photos Courtesy Brett McGuire & Ed Waite
This article was published in the July 2014 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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