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Indiana's Buckslinger

Hunter: Verlin Hale

Tall-tined Typical a new World Record

By Verlin Hale

I have been hunting since I was a child. I harvested my first deer in November 1987 at the age of 21. The deer was a beautiful mainframe 10-pointer that grossed 1694/8 inches.

That was my first year to hunt with a handgun, and I've hunted with a revolver ever since.

Although shooting that buck 21 years ago was a dream come true, it also made hunting more difficult. By starting out with such a large buck for my first deer, I have always aimed for something bigger. I've passed on lots of nice bucks and gone home empty-handed.

From the onset, 2008 was a great year. It started early, when I arrowed a nice wild boar and a cow elk. After returning from the hunt, I was ready to turn my attention to whitetails.

One evening just before dark, I spotted an enormous deer in a field about a mile from one of my stands. I could tell the deer was large-bodied with a dark-colored rack, but, without binoculars, that was about it.

When bow season came in, I was ready and hoping to get another look at the large deer that I had seen just days earlier. I found lots of tracks and sign of a big buck in the area, but I never saw it.

I hunted every possible day in hopes of a chance at this buck, passing on a lot of nice ones along the way.

When firearms season arrived, I took a couple of days away from my hunting spot to go to Whitewater State Park for their park hunt. I took a nice 9-pointer with 6-inch bases. It field-dressed an amazing 262 pounds - the largest-bodied deer I'd ever taken.

After sitting until about 9:30 on Wednesday morning, I started still-hunting. I was mostly scouting for new deer sign, also hoping to jump a buck along the way. While walking, I spotted a huge buck about 600 yards distant. It was with a doe in the middle of an open cornfield.

Hunter: Verlin HaleI could see the buck's huge rack before I ever looked through binoculars. After confirming it through the glasses, my heart rate went wild and my hands started to shake. The buck had a wide spread and 15- to 16-inch P-2s. This was the dude I'd been waiting to see since 1987.

I knew I needed to close the distance to get within pistol range. I got on my hands and knees and began crawling down the backside of the fencerow toward the deer. After crawling about 400 yards, I reached the cornfield. The buck and doe were in the middle of it.

On my stomach, I began inching across open ground toward the buck. I moved only when both deer's heads were turned. After I'd advanced about 20 yards, the buck took off running. I'd foolishly blown a two-hour stalk.

"Big Daddy" became my obsession.

After hunting all day Thursday and Friday and not seeing any sign of Big Daddy, I began wondering where he might be spending his days.

On Saturday, Nov. 22, I returned to the same area. It was a cold morning with a heavy frost and clear sky. I picked a spot where I had seen other deer during bow season. After sitting until about 8 a.m. and not seeing anything, my patience was growing short. I kept thinking that I should be in a different spot.

I began walking slowly, constantly looking in every direction through binoculars. After 45 minutes of skirting the field's edge and not seeing anything, I reversed course and glimpsed movement about 300 yards across the field.

Through binoculars, I saw three does and another deer behind them with its head down. When it raised its head, I knew it was Big Daddy. They were only about 50 yards from where I was originally stationed. Lesson to self: Never second guess your first instinct.

The field had some small rolling hills that I thought would be perfect to help me close the distance. After crawling across and coming to the top of a small knoll, I looked up and realized Big Daddy was 120 yards away and getting farther. I realized I wasn't going to get any closer.

I usually never take a shot unless I know that one shot will kill the animal. But Big Daddy was walking away; there would be no better chance, if any.

While lying on the ground, I steadied my Colt Anaconda .44 magnum and put the crosshairs on the rear hip, the perfect angle for a quartering-away shot at the vitals.

Subscribe Today!When I fired, Big Daddy turned and ran, angling away while favoring his hind leg.

Too anxious to wait, I ran to where he entered the woods and found a heavy blood trail. When I stepped into the tree line, I saw the bedded buck and administered the coup de grâce.

I called my buddies Steve Sterling and Spencer Densmore afterward to tell them the news and to enlist their help to drag the deer out of the woods, load it in the truck and drive it to the check station.

I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to hunt and to take such a fine trophy.

Hunter: Verlin Hale
Official Score: 182 7/8
Composite Score: 203 3/8
Weapon: Pistol
Class: Typical

-- Reprinted from the November 2009 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine.

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