Indiana 'Buick' carries Nearly 200 Inches of Chrome.
By Mike Handley
Robert Eccles had the presence of mind to set his clock back an hour on Halloween night in 2009, but he didn't make the daylight-saving-to-standard-time adjustment with his alarm, which was still set for 6 a.m.
It should've been set for 5:00.
Already late when the buzzer sounded that Sunday morning, Robert decided to stop at a gas station en route to his stand and buy a cup of coffee and a ham biscuit - luxuries he'd ordinarily skip. It was 7:00 by the time he climbed into his treestand in Kosciusko County.
The owner of Brothers Archery shop in North Webster, Ind., had been aloft for only 10 minutes when he saw a familiar, gray-muzzled face. It was none other than the giant whitetail he knew roamed the tract. It pushed five does out of the nearby swamp and into a picked cornfield, all the way to within 60 yards of the hunter who felt as if a ham biscuit was wedged in his throat.
Nothing Robert tried would coax that single-minded buck closer, and then - just as quickly as they appeared - the sultan and his harem were gone.
He left the tree about 9:30 and went to his girlfriend's brother-in-law's house with the intention of re-sighting his bow to 60, 50 and 40 yards.
Such shots weren't new to him. Even at the tender age of 13, he achieved 6-inch groups at 80 yards. But his pins were not set for long-distance shots because he knows targets aren't deer.
A lot can happen when shooting at a live deer beyond 30 or 40 yards.
Still, Robert had seen the enormous buck THREE times at 60 yards.
And with gun season fast approaching, he was ready to take that shot if the buck wasn't moving or alarmed during the moment of truth.
After pummeling the foam target and resetting his pins, he called a friend, Latt, and asked if he wanted to accompany him with a video camera. Latt had been hunting, too, but he hadn't seen anything and was eager for a change of scenery.
His enthusiasm plummeted, however, when Latt saw Robert's choice of stand location: a lone black oak beside a fence line. It might as well have been a telephone pole in the middle of a prairie.
"Boy, that's in the middle of nowhere," he cracked.
You'd think that the owner of an archery shop would have the finest equipment available. But Robert's stand was an old hang-on model he'd bought for a paltry $10. It was positioned 14 feet high. Latt's stand was 10 feet above it.
The fence separated corn and soybean fields, and Latt was facing the cornfield.
"It didn't take long for my friend to change his tune," Robert said. "We weren't there five minutes before this buck appeared out in the field 300 yards away. It looked like a Buick out there instead of a deer.
"Latt saw it first," he added. "I was playing a video game on my phone."
Latt videotaped the buck chasing does for the next 22 minutes.
Although Robert tried grunting to lure the buck closer, it paid no mind to the calls and eventually disappeared back into the swamp it seemed to own.
When the giant whitetail came back out, the clock was nearing 5:00. As soon as it stepped out of the trees, it began thrashing a sapling. Robert tried bleating and grunting as loudly as possible, but the deer never looked up. That's when he pulled out his Primos Buck Roar, and that got its attention.
Taken aback at the pure effrontery of another buck challenging it, the deer came straight toward the lone oak before dipping back into the woods at 100 yards. When it popped back out, it was at 30 and staring at the tree like a money-hungry loan shark.
Robert couldn't even attach his release, at first.
When the buck passed the tree, Robert clipped his release to the string, drew and mouth-bleated. When the buck stopped, the arrow smacked it.
The arrow was protruding as the Buick floored its accelerator and shot toward the distant line of trees, which it never made. It fell after covering about 90 yards.
Robert had seen the same buck two weeks earlier at around 60 yards in the cornfield, which hadn't been picked at the time. Three days before the fateful one, he saw it again in the same spot. Nothing could convince him to hunt anywhere else.
He had permission to shoot a deer in the field, but not to actually hunt on that side of the fence.
"We had gun season coming up, and I just knew someone was going to shoot that buck," he said. "I was just fortunate.
"This is proof that Indiana's one-buck rule is working," he added.
• Hunter: Robert Eccles
• Official Score: 181 3/8
• Composite: 199 5/8
• Compound Bow
-- Reprinted from the July 2010 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine.