posted on December 22, 2013 14:00
By Mike Handley
Greg Deckling, like most bowhunters, realizes the importance of practice. If you can't launch at least a few arrows prior to opening day, there's really no point in going.
Even if the sights are dead-on, it takes a little conditioning to be able to draw and hold a compound bow.
The college junior has no place on campus to shoot his bow. But because he lives in Ohio, where crossbows and red-dot sights aren't restricted to the aged and infirm, the lack of practice didn't keep him out of the woods when the season opened last year.
So they'd be able to hunt together, Bill Deckling offered to let his son use a crossbow that had belonged to a friend who'd lost his battle with lung cancer the previous December.
Even so, Greg missed the morning hunt because he'd forgotten to buy his deer tag. It was a major bummer, too, because he was excited at the prospect of encountering one of the several nice bucks his father had been monitoring to that point.
Later in the day, with a fresh license in his wallet, Greg climbed into a stand about 100 yards from his father's.
"About 6:40, I heard what sounded like a deer running through the cornfield behind my stand," he said. "I didn't see anything, at first. I was wondering what the noise had been and where the deer, if it was a deer, had gone.
"Suddenly, a slight movement caused me to look almost straight down at this huge buck. It was standing only 6 or 7 yards away, looking up at me," he continued.
Greg couldn't move, and the crossbow was lying in his lap. But then he remembered the red dot scope.
"I very carefully turned it on while the buck was looking at me," he said. "In slow-motion, I swung the bow around and pointed it downward, trying to get the red dot centered for a shot, but it wasn't bright enough for me to see it.
"It seemed like hours passed before I finally got the intensity bright enough to see it on the ground. Still, I couldn't bring the crossbow around far enough to aim it," Greg continued. "I remember thinking: I don't have a chance."
Fortunately for Greg, a piece of corn stalk was tangled in the buck's antlers, which must have been interfering with its view of the blob in the tree.
"When the deer suddenly lowered its head and started shaking the stalk out of its antlers, that gave me the chance to bring the bow fully around, though still in my lap," Greg said. "I raised the red dot to the buck's shoulder and tripped the trigger."
The rest, as they say, is history. The 21-pointer is No. 15 among Ohio Irregulars felled by crossbow. Its BTR composite score is 222 2/8 inches, helped tremendously by the 57 6/8 inches of irregular growth on the deer's right side.
Ed Waite measured the incredible rack and wrote the story that appeared in RACK magazine's August issue.