By Rob Brennan
With a BTR score of 270 3/8 inches, Rob Brennan’s ’06 Illinois buck is No. 2 among velvet-clad Irregulars in Buckmasters’ blackpowder category.
In 2005, I bought my third trail camera. The first week, I got some photographs of a tremendous buck in one of my Biologic food plots. When my children saw the pictures, they described the deer’s rack as “big and nasty.” That led to our nicknaming it “Big Nasty.”
Waiting for hunting season to arrive so that I could go after this dude was like waiting up for Santa Claus.
We were all excited — my dad, Tom; my hunting friend, Mark Grites; and my son, Tyler. My wife, Tina, and daughters Chelsea and Jenna were cheering for me.
When bow season finally arrived in Illinois, I tried not to overhunt the buck. I was still retrieving pictures of him from my food-plot camera. Knowing I would still get a shot at Big Nasty during the gun season, I wound up tying my bow tag on a 172-incher — my best ever to that point.
One day during the late gun season, I was in my stand, putting on my coat, when I saw movement to my left. I froze and cast a sideways glance at none other than Mr. Nasty, who didn’t wait around for a proper introduction.
I never saw the deer again that year.
Later on, Dad spotted the buck while hunting for sheds. At least Big Nasty had survived.
It was a long, slow summer.
My expectations were high for the ‘06 season. We had even more photos of Big Nasty. Early on during bow season, as Tyler and I were leaving one night, his highness ran out of the clover patch about 60 yards in front of us. Since the deer was slightly below the horizon, all we saw was that enormous rack bouncing along. My son said, “Dang, Dad, that thing is huge! I sure hope you get him!”
So did I.
The Brennan Buck is a mainframe 5x5. The 29 irregular additions total 110 4/8 inches; the mass accounts for 48 6/8. Although no scoring system gives credit for the “greatest” spread measurement, this bruiser is in a class by itself: From outside to outside, it’s 35 inches wide!
I wanted more than anything to get a shot at Big Nasty with my PSE, but I wasn’t about to limit my chances. I hunted hard with my bow. But when the first gun season came along, I left the bow at home.
Mark and I were hunting together on opening morning. We saw a lot of small bucks, but there was no sign of Mr. Nasty. With every shot I heard that day, I imagined that someone else had got him. I worried about this deer way too much.
The first season passed, and I heard nothing about a hunter taking a buck of this caliber. When I put my camera out again, I got two pictures of Big Nasty with some does.
When the second gun season rolled around, Dad and I decided that he would have the mornings; I’d hunt in the evenings (because of work). Thursday came and went. Friday was the big day.
Dad hunted that morning. I got to my stand at about 12:30. It was 22 degrees with a 25-mph wind. Around 2:00, 11 does filed past, heading for a thicket. I thought, “This is good. When they come back, the bucks will follow.”
As the time passed, I saw a few deer pass through, but none were tempting. Around 3:30, the string of does began exiting the thicket. And this time, there were more.
Deer were everywhere.
All of a sudden, the many does spooked and started jumping the fence, coming closer. Soon afterward, Big Nasty slid out of the trees. When he started chasing does, they all ran in my direction. I had already shouldered my T/C Encore. When the buck jumped the fence and ran straight toward me, it was like it was meant to be.
All the deer were trying to stay clear of Big Nasty. When I found him in my sights, I couldn’t believe it was happening. I’d spent endless hours in trees, hoping for this moment. And I knew this was going to be my only chance.
At 70 yards, the buck turned broadside. The shot was on the money.
I called my dad afterward. He often says he wishes he’d taped the strange and garbled conversation. He had no idea what I said, but he got the drift.
I also called Tina and the kids, asking them to join me. My wife was so excited for me that she lost her keys. I think my kids were in shock.
After loading the deer, we took him back to our pole barn and called some close friends.
-- Reprinted from the August 2007 issue of Buckmasters Magazine