Being wrong isn’t always a bad thing.
Maybe it’s a good thing that Michael Schumann and his sons, Dillon and Matthew, thought they were hunting a 180-inch buck on their ground in Randolph County, Mo., in 2013.
Had they known the whitetail would actually gross more than 200, life away from a deer stand would’ve been even more unbearable.
They’d been watching the buck since 2010, when Michael saw it browsing along the edge of some CRP during the third week of September. Michael thought it might score in the mid-140s then, maybe 3 1/2 years old, so he opted to let it grow a year older.
In 2011, there were only two sightings of the deer, both times when it was still in velvet. The Schumanns guessed the rack might go in the mid- or upper 150s.
The 2012 season was a repeat of the previous year with a few velvet sightings and no encounters during archery season. Then, four days before opening day of rifle season, the buck materialized.
That evening, Michael had dropped his 15 year-old son, Matthew, off at a bow stand on the western side of the property. While driving around to look for other deer activity, he spotted the buck with some does only 40 yards off a major blacktop.
The buck had packed on about 20 more inches of antler, a true giant at that point, and the family was ready and anxious for rifle season to open. The deer was seen twice more, but never offered a shot.
All father and sons could do was to hope the animal would survive another year.
The following summer, the Schumanns became increasingly nervous because EHD was taking a huge toll on the deer population. They were relieved when the buck was spotted twice before the 2013 archery season began.
It appeared to be even bigger than it had been in 2012, and they nicknamed it The 180, which later proved to be a vast understatement.
Archery season couldn’t arrive soon enough for Matthew. He was confident he would get an opportunity at the deer if he played his cards right.
On the evening of Sept. 15, it almost happened. While hunting the edge of an unpicked bean field, approximately 100 yards from the buck’s bedding area, Matthew had the encounter of a lifetime with the buck.
The deer approached from upwind as Matthew hoped it might, but it was obscured by brush until it was within 8 yards of his stand. As the buck stood motionless, watching the field, the wind began to swirl in the timber, and the buck whirled and bounded about 20 yards, which put it completely out of sight in the early season foliage.
Young Dillon was also eager for a chance at the buck. On the second evening of the state’s youth season, he had an opportunity at a 140ish 8-pointer, but he decided to let it go because he’d taken a larger one two years earlier (his dad reminded him).
Michael also pointed out to Dillon that The 180 was still out there.
Nov. 16, opening day of the regular rifle season, was extremely windy. Even at sunrise, the gusts were approaching 40 mph, so the Schumanns didn’t really expect to see anything.
Michael and Dillon were in their blind, though, and a quarter past 7:00, Michael saw a deer at the edge of some CRP, about 300 yards from where they sat. After glassing it, Michael calmly said to Dillon, “Don’t get excited, but here comes The 180.”
Dillon’s eyes lit up with excitement, and his breathing became frantic when he laid eyes on the monster.
Encouraging Dillon to slow down and take deep breaths, Michael told him to slowly get the gun out the blind’s window, to take a steady rest on the sandbag, and to wait.
Knowing it was angling in their direction, they waited until the buck was as close as it would get. When the buck was due west of them, it would be at approximately 200 yards.
Dillon was tracking the buck’s every step with his .270.
“Get ready,” his father finally said. “I’m going to stop him. Aim a few inches left for the wind drift, and hold dead center.”
“I’m ready,” Dillon replied. “I’m on him.”
To be heard over the wind, Michael yelled nearly at the top of his lungs: “HEY!”
The buck immediately stopped, broadside, and looked at the hunters. Dillon said, “Oh my gosh.”
“I know, Dillon. Just make the shot,” Michael coaxed.
At the rifle’s report, the buck — with holes in both lungs — kicked hard and ran directly back into the CRP. It took every ounce of resolve they had for father and son to wait 10 minutes before taking up the trail.
And the tracking job wasn’t hard.
Standing over the deer, Michael realized they’d seriously underestimated the rack’s size. It had to be closer to 200 inches!
After offering up a prayer of thanks, they got to work.
Hunter: Dillon Schumann
BTR Score: 182 6/8”
– Photos Courtesy Mark Owen
This article was published in the Winter 2014 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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