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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

28

By Mike Handley

Bo Middleton
Bo Middleton

When my outfitter friend Jay Jack suggested I go to his personal spot that afternoon, where a trail camera had photographed a world-class Typical numerous times, I felt as if I’d been given the key to Buck City, Okla.

He’d placed a folding chair behind an uprooted and denuded mesquite tree about 120 yards from a stand of cedars where deer bedded. He hunted it at every opportunity. The one day he didn’t go is when the buck passed by the trail camera during daylight hours -- at least twice in the same hour.

Jay’s self esteem was as flat as a run-over cow patty after that.

Sitting behind the skeletal tree, I could see far beyond rifle range. I watched distant buffalo grazing on the slopes of the Wichita Mountains, the high-fenced national wildlife refuge flanking the 3,000-acre tract we were hunting. I also saw numerous wild hogs, but not the elk or deer that coaxed “Oh my gods” out of my breath while hunting the other side of the ranch.

“This place ... seeing all those great animals on the refuge side of the fence ... will make you cry,” Jay told me the first time we met. He was right.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

“Just keep walking toward that peak, and you’ll see the (low) fence. As soon as you see that, look to your left, and you’ll see the Oklahoma Sooner chair,” were the directions Jay gave me to his stand. He was going to climb a mountain of boulders -- no doubt a castle for dozens of denning rattlesnakes -- to glass the opposite side of the pasture.

I remembered that miniature mountain. He and I had frozen our butts off there while trying for elk a couple of years earlier.

I followed the twin paths of tire-smashed grass until I saw the fence after topping a small rise. I stopped and glassed the line of cedars carefully before proceeding, moving only when I was convinced nothing was afoot.

I’d taken maybe three steps to the left when I looked back and saw an enormous whitetail that had been hidden from view by the ONLY tree between me and the cedar grove, a squatty and leaf-covered oak. The buck was about to hop the fence and disappear back into thick cover.

I guess I panicked. There was no time to judge the rack properly, but one glance was enough for me to know I wanted it. There were three seconds to shoot, and I did. And I didn’t cut a hair. From the deer’s reaction, I knew there would be no blood, but I looked anyway.

Jay was beside me within 10 minutes. We huddled behind those mesquite bones for the rest of the afternoon -- me choking down bile, him holding Ruby, a puppy yet to grow into her long legs and feet.

To that point in early December, I’d logged 120 hours in deer stands with a bow. Most days, I’d been out from dark ‘til dark. I’d passed up 2 1/2-year-old bucks and broken-antlered 3-year-olds in Ohio, Nebraska and Kansas. What was supposed to be an “easy” rifle hunt wound up being the fourth ingredient for my tag soup.

“I know it won’t do any good for me to say this, but don’t beat yourself up,” Jay told me.

“You don’t understand,” I replied. “I don’t miss with a rifle. Hell, even all the deer I shoot with a bow (except this doe in Illinois a few years back) fall within sight.”

A half-hour later, Jay said, “Believe me, I know how you feel. I don’t miss either ... except for this year. I hadn’t told anybody about it before now.”

I might never forget the sight of that lucky buck with the kicker jutting off its left P-2, but my frayed nerves were soothed a few hours later when we drove to nearby Lawton for me to measure a buck that wound up being a new Oklahoma state compound bow record. Its composite score topped 253 inches. Bo Middleton of Elgin was one happy camper afterward, and I wasn’t even sure of the buck’s No. 1 status at the time.

I left southwest Oklahoma without a buck of my own-- probably the only hunter of Jay’s who didn’t get one this year -- but I drilled a gorgeous razorback on the first day. It rocketed 20 yards before running smack into and bouncing off a low-slung cedar. I also had three scoresheets in my briefcase: Bo’s big one from 2010, another he’d taken the previous season that tallied 193, and a great 186 4/8-incher taken by his buddy, Chizum Hale, also in ’09.

Bo’s tale will be in Rack magazine next fall. Jay’s number is (580) 591-1181. Tell him you can shoot better than I can.

Jared de Doad Jeff Gassaway BTR Will Rives

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Comments

Stephen Blum
# Stephen Blum
Tuesday, December 28, 2010 1:55 PM
Very nice buck. My brother in law shoot a 132 p&y buck in new york the same day I shot my 6 pointer, same stand 6 hours apart. I like the non typical look. Great job.
George Bookout
# George Bookout
Tuesday, December 28, 2010 3:31 PM
I am an avid deer hunter and live in Altus, OK only a few dozen miles from the Wildlife Refuge spoken about. Perhaps Bo Middleton or Jay Jack will take me after a monster like this one.
Great Deer guys!
J. Baker
Wednesday, December 29, 2010 8:15 AM
Great story and I know OK is a awsome place to hunt. Where was the buck from MS taken. I live in GA but I do have land south of Tupelo I can hunt on and I know those boys keep those big bucks in MS a big secret.
Chuck Spanbauer
# Chuck Spanbauer
Wednesday, December 29, 2010 8:58 AM
Fantastic story! The Midwest seems to have absolutely huge deer. Was traveling on business a few years ago & drove to Springfield to seee the 1st Bass Pro store & museum. Along the way in a hayfield on the side of the interstate, I saw the biggest whitetail I've ever seen. Looked like a bull with an oak tree on it's head! One day, I hope to hunt those Midwest Monsters!

I can absolutely relate to missing with a rifle or muzzleloader: Seems I made a last-minute change to my bullets after I loaned out one muzzleloader and also the only short starter that worked with my chosen bullets. I recalled the Shockwaves I would have to use shot about the same as the XTPs I'd sighted the gun with------WRONG! Missed a doe and a nice 6 pointer opening day of muzzleloader season, checked the gun at the range & found it was about 6" high at 100 yds with the different bullet. Did manage to drill a decent 8 pointer later in the season with another gun. Missing one is just a part of the game-----if we got a deer every time we pulled the trigger, we'd all be making hunting videos! (*Wish there were more misses shown on the videos, too------more realistic as deer don't always present themselves where or as planned!)
Dennis A. McDade
# Dennis A. McDade
Thursday, December 30, 2010 8:03 PM
Hey,been there brother,they just wern't that big.
Mike Handley
# Mike Handley
Wednesday, April 06, 2011 12:46 PM
Thanks, y'all. It's nice to get feedback.

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