By Mike Handley
Jerren saw only this rack's mostly typical left side before he loosed his arrow. He had no idea the right beam carried 15 points.
Even before the early-morning telephone call on Dec. 8, 2007, Kelly Almon suspected she'd either married a crazy man, or her beloved of four years was simply dumb as a box of rocks. Either way, she realized, prospects for a savings account were slim.
For starters, Jerren had paid good money for land he'd never own. Then came ladder stands, deer feeders, stuff to put into deer feeders, trail cameras and $2,500 in truck repairs, thanks to the rocks on his lease in the Arbuckle Mountains of southern Oklahoma. And to top it all off, he would come home talking about the deer he'd seen, but he never shot one.
What kind of guy would spend so much money and time - even when he was supposed to be working - so that he could kill a deer, only to let them go whenever they came near? It would be far cheaper to dine on ribeyes or prime rib every night.
And then came the phone call, when hubby Jerren started babbling about shooting himself with an arrow (how was that possible?).
"It was only 7:30 when I called," Jerren said. "She was half asleep, and I was out of breath. She thought I was telling her that I'd shot myself, and she couldn't understand how in the world I could do that with a bow and arrow. But at least that woke her up ... It wasn't until she told me to calm down that the real story came out.
"I guess I wasn't making sense, because when I also called to tell my dad and ask for help, he wound up hanging up the phone," he added.
Turns out, no part of Jerren's body had been impaled by an arrow. He'd just shot a deer. Finally, Kelly thought. They'd soon be dining on $569-a-pound venison. Well, the least she could do was to go see what it looked like before it landed up on her plate.
Paying the Piper
Before 2007, Jerren had never been without a place to hunt. He'd had the run of his grandparents' 640 acres since he was a child. But when the Bouchers sold their spread in order to move into town, he had to find someplace else.
Jerren wound up leasing 400 acres in the Arbuckle Mountains, an expense that his wife couldn't quite understand.
"Kelly wasn't into hunting," he said. "So it took a lot of persuading."
Jerren logged many hours visiting his new lease - setting up stands, planting food plots, filling feeders and monitoring trail cameras. It was a sizeable investment, made even more expensive by the damage inflicted to his truck by the rocky terrain.
Of course, he was determined to get his money's worth. He hunted the whole first week of bow season, as well as the entire rifle and blackpowder seasons. In fact, he spent so many hours away from the job, he often worked weekends to make up for lost time.
Jerren Almon of Ardmore, Okla., poses beside his homestead buck with son Jaxen, 3. This Carter County 24-pointer is proof that big packages sometimes are delivered to small parcels.
His reward for the cost of the lease, seed, gasoline and feed was seeing one buck with an unbelievably wide rack. It was a dandy, but not even a wing and a prayer could've dropped it at 450 yards. Someone later shot the deer, the biggest whitetail taken in those mountains in 2007, and it was an astounding 28 4/8 inches between the main beams.
Jerren had fully intended to work on Saturday, Dec. 8. But a steady drizzle washed away his good intentions. The construction business is a fair-weather trade. So even if the rain eventually ceased, he reasoned that he'd have plenty of time to see sunup from a deer stand.
He and Kelly had bought 17 acres with plans of eventually building a house there. It's mostly open country, except for one clump of trees near a 3-acre pond.
The previous Tuesday evening, his father-in-law visited the property to see if the last few loads of gravel had been delivered. As soon as he dipped down into a low spot and his headlights illuminated the opposite hillside, they swept across a very large 12-pointer, a buck Jerren once glimpsed in velvet.
Roy got a good long and up-close look at the deer, which allowed him to count the points
The very next day, Jerren went to his mountain lease and picked up a stand, feeder and camera. On Friday, he learned that his trail camera had snapped two photographs of the big 12-pointer.
The photos, together with the possibility that his time would be short, convinced him the homestead would be the perfect place to spend a wet Saturday morning. Despite the unrelenting mist and a crazy-thick fog, Jerren was sitting in a 17-foot-high ladder stand there a full 45 minutes before dawn. The stand was secured to the biggest tree on his place, an old pecan.
Jerren really couldn't afford to hunt long. A little after 7:00, about the time he began second-guessing his being there, a doe stepped out of the fog. She was followed by two more, and they were being prodded by an enormous buck, which eventually chased them into some brush to Jerren's left.
After watching the antics for a minute or two, Jerren anticipated their popping out of the thick stuff and picked up his bow. Almost on cue, the buck chased one of its girlfriends out of the thicket.
"I waited for it to come a little closer," Jerren said. "I was trying not to make any noise, but I was shaking. As I was putting the arrow on my rest, the buck looked around a couple of times, but it never spooked."
When the buck stopped at 17 yards, Jerren's arrow smacked it.
The deer disappeared into the fog after a few short bounds. Visibility was 25 yards or less. Luckily for Jerren, who suffered a bout of buck fever-induced, temporary insanity, the whitetail died almost immediately.
"I was so excited, I didn't wait," he admitted. "I got down as soon as I could and began following the trail. That's really the only mistake I made: not waiting. But it died right there on the pond dam after going about 50 yards."
Jerren grew weak-kneed as soon as he spotted the fallen buck. When he'd shot it, he was looking at the rack's left side, which is fairly clean. But it was the funky right side sticking up as he approached it - the side with 10 irregular points on top of the five typical ones.
That's when he called Kelly, almost speaking in tongues.
"When Kelly got there, she nutted out just like I did," Jerren laughed. "Before that day, when I'd come home, she would ask me if I'd seen anything. I'd tell her about seeing bucks, and she'd always wonder why I didn't shoot them. I tried to explain that they were young.
"When she saw this deer, she told me, 'Now I understand why you didn't shoot those other ones.' Now, she even wants to try her hand at hunting!"
Hunter: Jerren Almon
Official Score: 188"
Composite Score: 206 7/8"
-- Reprinted from the October 2008 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine