posted on May 29, 2012 06:35
By Mike Handley
Mike Mallett of Summerfield, Ohio, is pretty sure he'd have choked if he'd been behind the crossbow instead of his 13-year-old son, Kurtis. He knew they were looking at the local legend, a buck that had been photographed, videotaped and discussed by almost all the neighbors.
Kurtis, however, seemed surreally calm. In fact, he was so thrilled to be holding a camera and getting video footage of the approaching whitetail that he almost forgot to grab for the crossbow. The eighth-grader's passion is filming deer and sharing his videos with friends by uploading them onto his computer.
But as the buck -- clearly a 200-plus-incher -- approached a scrape, the kid realized it was in easy range, which he hadn't expected.
"Once I saw it was walking toward us, I thought, 'This is crazy. This buck's walking in here,' so I shut off the camera," Kurtis said. "But I still had to put it down quietly and raise my crossbow."
Kurtis and his dad were sharing the 15-foot-high double ladder stand on their property. Since the boy had school that day, they didn't get in it until 5:00. Some does were feeding in front of the duo when the buck showed about 6:15. It was too far, at first, but then Kurtis grunted, which seemed to put it at ease and lured it closer.
The kid says he recognized it, too.
"I turned the camera to zoom in on the rack and saw it was the same one we'd seen in others' videos," Kurtis said. "When I swapped the camera for the bow, I kept telling myself, 'Don't miss. Don't miss. Stay calm, and celebrate afterward.'"
Because they'd seen a small part of the bolt protruding as the buck wheeled and ran, they decided against trailing until the following morning. When the search began with the help of Mike's friend, Greg Love, it was a short job. The deer hadn't traveled 60 yards.
"Kurt was focused," his father said. "It took a lot of nerve to make that shot."
The 21-pointer's BTR composite score is 228 5/8 inches, which makes it No. 14 in the world among crossbow-felled Irregulars.
The full story of the boy's hunt will appear in Rack magazine next fall.