Thirty-two years of deer hunting weren't enough to prepare Jerry Kassinger for the buck he shot with his crossbow last season in Ohio. He had no idea the animal's antlers would surpass the lofty 200-inch mark.
His first clue about the buck's caliber came when all the passers-by at the local check station whipped out their cell phones to photograph it amongst a chorus of ooohs and ahhhs.
Confirmation came when this magazine came knocking, and again when it was taped for "Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records."
Only then did Jerry realize he'd not only put a bolt through a 200-incher, but he'd also beat that mark by more than 32 inches (if inside spread were added). He still sometimes wonders if he's dreaming.
Prior to the 2009 season, Jerry bought a couple of trail cameras and set out one of them on his brother Jeff's 1-acre lot in suburban Summit County, Ohio, where he plans to eventually build a home. The neighborhood, which is a mere quarter-mile from Jerry's own place in Akron, consists of 1- to 1 1/2-acre lots.
The 44-year-old hunter placed the camera near a clearing where he'd found some smashed-down grass, about the only fresh deer sign he saw. The lot is half-covered in trees; the rest is weedy.
When he checked it a couple of days later, photographs of a very impressive buck were on there.
"I'd never seen anything like that except in magazines and sometimes on television," Jerry said. "There are lots of deer there. My son, Justin, shot a 10-pointer that went about 145 inches a few years earlier." Justin's deer is one of nine hanging in the Kassinger's "hunting room."
Jerry collected a lot of images of the distinctive buck in the ensuing days. The camera always seemed to snap about three photos before the buck was out of the field of view. There were lots of rump shots.
Once the season opened, Jerry lugged his climber and scaled a birch tree every afternoon for almost a month - 25 or 26 days straight -in hopes of getting a shot at the deer he wanted so badly to be No. 10 on his wall of fame. But he never saw it.
Jerry's a driver for an egg farm. He delivers thousands of fresh eggs to numerous businesses four or five days a week - more than that during holidays, especially Easter.
"I guess you can call me the Easter Bunny," he laughs.
He rises and leaves the house at 4 a.m. on weekdays, and he's done sometime between noon and 2 p.m. And had it not been for the trail camera photos, he'd have spent most of his free time hunting somewhere else.
The one weekend he took a break from watching the sunset from his birch, the buck came through just before dark and was photographed again. This blew Jerry's mind, since he was not only convinced the deer was nocturnal, but also because it was a bluebird, 60-degree day.
On Oct. 26, Jerry almost didn't go to his brother's lot. He decided to do it only at the last minute, and he didn't get there until almost 6 p.m.
Once settled in about 18 feet off the ground, he grunted a few times and flipped his can call.
About 15 minutes later, he saw some limbs swaying with the wind. And then he realized the wind wasn't blowing. It was a buck, shaking its head at 40 yards.
Jerry couldn't tell, at first, if it was the same giant that had mugged repeatedly for his camera. But when it started toward him, stopping along the way to freshen a scrape by urinating down its hind legs, he recognized the awesome rack.
When the deer was at 10 yards, it turned broadside and Jerry squeezed the crossbow's trigger. Afterward, the buck ran out of sight. Jerry heard leaves rustling, and he hoped the noise was the animal going to ground.
He called his brother a few minutes later. Jeff was hunting at another place near the town of Marlboro, perhaps 15 minutes away.
When Jeff arrived in less than an hour, the brothers took up the trail and found the buck, which had traveled only 40 yards after being hit.
Jerry is surprised at all the attention his buck has received. It all began when he took the deer to the Hunter's Outlet checking station, where everyone was acting as if they'd never seen such a monster. Even so, it wasn't until the rack was measured that he realized what all the fuss had been about.
Ditto for Jeff, who has claimed dibs for the lot in 2010.
Hunter: Jerry Kassinger
Official Score: 215 3/8
Composite: 232 1/8
This article was published in the July 2010 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.