By John E. Phillips
Behold the Land of Lincoln’s No. 3 Typical (by shotgun)
Before an electrical accident robbed Jason Langenhorst of 80 percent of his left hand’s grip, he drew 70 pounds and relied on a 12 gauge stoked with 3-inch magnums to get the job done during the Illinois deer seasons. Today, the hunter from Germantown turns deer into venison with a 50-pound-draw bow and a 20 gauge.
Three weeks apart in 2014, he filled both his bow and firearm tags, and he gained a lot more than deer burger and backstrap.
His first taste of success that year came Oct. 30, when he arrowed a 130-inch 8-pointer that made the mistake of strolling within five steps of the tree in which Jason was perched.
The 4x4 was his second choice. He’d been hoping to harvest a nice 10-pointer, but that buck hadn’t come within bow range.
On Nov. 21, Jason took his scoped, bolt-action shotgun to a 200-acre family tract and climbed into a hang-on stand at his favorite place. He’d fallen in love with the pinch point between two large blocks of timber nine years earlier, and he’d taken some great bucks there.
A 20-acre soybean field was at one end of the pinch point, opposite a large block of woods. A well worn deer trail was about 50 yards from the tree line concealing the stand.
Jason felt sure he knew every tree, blade of grass, thick cover area and opening on the family land. Consistently, this one trail had produced the most big bucks, including a 150-incher.
“I was running late that morning and didn’t get into my treestand until there was already enough light to see,” Jason said. “About a half-hour later, I heard shots off to the north. Within 30 seconds, I spotted six deer running.
“Since everything happened so quickly, I didn’t have an opportunity to range the deer. Not until later, when my dad paced off the distance from my tree to the spot where I shot my buck, did I realize it was 200 yards,” he continued.
“The first deer I saw was a doe, and the second was a monster buck. Quickly, I lifted my shotgun to my shoulder, aimed a little below the white patch of hair on the front of the deer’s chest, moved the reticles about a foot in front of his chest and squeezed the trigger.
“After I shot, the buck kept running,” Jason added. “It didn’t act like it was hit; just walked over and disappeared in the trees.”
Four other smaller bucks were following the big one.
Jason was out of his treestand and looking for blood in short order. When he didn’t find any, he walked over to the line of trees where he’d last spotted the giant buck.
“Just as I stepped into the tree line, I heard a heavy thud that I believed was my buck falling to the ground,” he said. “I took a few more steps in that direction and saw the whitetail down in a ditch, trying to climb out of it with his front feet.
“I’d already bolted my shotgun, so I got off a second shot, hitting the deer in the shoulder and putting it down for good,” he added.
When Jason hopped in the ditch and lifted the buck’s head, he couldn’t believe the thickness of the rack.
“I knew a nice 10-pointer had been coming down that trail, because I’d spotted it before. When I looked at this buck’s antlers, I instantly knew it was a bigger buck than the 10-pointer I was hunting,” he said.
Knowing he couldn’t pull the beefy deer out of the ditch by himself, Jason called his dad, who was hunting the other end of the property.
“I was so excited and shaking so badly that my dad hardly could understand what I was saying,” Jason said.
When his father arrived, he said, “Well, son, if anyone deserves to take a nice buck like this, it’s you. You’ve hunted hard. You’ve put in your time scouting. Although you’ve earned this buck, I can’t believe how big it is!”
There was no hoisting. Jason and his dad used a four-wheeler and chains to pull the dead animal out of the ditch.
Only afterward did Jason realize he’d attempted and made a 200-yard shot with a 20 gauge, a pretty big deal in most circles.
“At 100 yards, with a scope, I can put three slugs in the same hole on the target,” he said. But unless you’re Sgt. Alvin York, a lot can go wrong in the next 100 yards.
Even after gripping the magnificent antlers, Jason seriously underestimated their size.
“I’d never seen a buck this big, so I guessed it would score about 160 or 170,” he said. “After we field-dressed it, we went to town to get something to eat and had the buck in the back of the truck. Several hunters came by, looked at the deer, and one announced, ‘That’ll score about 190.’”
Jason was skeptical, but the man’s guess turned out to be conservative. The rack actually pushes 200 inches (when the inside spread is included).
Jason had no idea a buck of this caliber had made its home or was passing through the property. Later in the season, however, when he checked a trail camera upon returning to fill his doe tag, he retrieved his first and last photograph of it.
“It was taken the evening before I bagged him,” he said.
Hunter: Jason Langenhorst
BTR Score: 199 6/8
View BTR Scoresheet
This article was published in the April 2016 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
• Cox & Son - Deer Movers: Nobody complains about too many handles, right?
• Switching Targets: If you hear a tweet in the bush, don’t be in a hurry to drill the bird in hand.
• Head Knobs and Boom Sticks: New ground and a triptych of day-old trail cam images convince bowhunters to don orange and take up arms.