By Ed B. Waite Jr.
From previous encounters, Marlon Hale knew that this buck carried a lot of points, but he never got a clear look at the rack until the deer was dead. Turns out, the deer is a mainframe 6x6. But there are a whole bunch of extras!
During the spring of 2005, Marlon Hale's job as a roofer took him to Carroll County, Ohio. He fell in love with the terrain there and wound up receiving permission to hunt a good-sized farm with several cornfields separated by strips of timber. The 27-year-old from Hammondsville, Ohio, returned several times in the summer and fall to scout his newfound paradise, and he always found plenty of buck sign.
"A couple of times, I caught glimpses of a really big buck," he said. "But I was never able to get a clear look at its antlers. Nevertheless, I worked very hard to find several good places to hang stands.
"When the archery season opened in early October, I was ready," Marlon said. "I hunted the area almost every day for a month, either morning or evening. I moved my stands several times, trying to find a better spot, closer to where I saw this really big deer that I was sure was a 6x6. Seemed the stand was never where I needed it to be.
"I saw the same deer twice in October, but never close enough for a shot," he continued. "I think the buck had patterned me."
Marlon's Ohio buck is the second largest Irregular entered into the BTR for 2005. The only one bigger came out of Kentucky.
Marlon saw close to 20 different bucks that first month, but none could compare to the one that had captured his heart.
On Nov. 3, it was too windy to climb a tree, so Marlon found a good spot on the ground where he could watch some intersecting trails.
"I was hunting a 30-acre patch of hardwoods with a logging road running through the middle, almost completely surrounded by standing corn. It was hard to pick a good spot because the deer could enter and exit the corn almost anywhere without being seen," he said.
His choice of vantage points, however, afforded him looks at several does and small bucks that day. And it looked like the bucks were starting to pay very close attention to the does, despite the warm weather.
"I was up very early the next day and left the house about 5:30 for the half-hour drive to the farm. When I arrived, I sprayed down with scent-remover and walked the 300 yards to where I wanted to hunt. It was really muggy," he remembered.
"I went to the same place I had hunted the previous day and cleared a spot around the base of a tree; I was going to stay on the ground again," he added. "The wind was right for that spot, and I didn't want to risk moving a stand."
Marlon set out some Tink's scent bombs before settling into position. He was watching the logging road because several deer trails crossed it.
The rut was beginning. There were a lot of scrapes, and the small bucks were sparring, from the looks of the torn-up ground. Most importantly, bucks were chasing does.
It was quiet except for the breeze as Marlon backed up to a large oak. He eventually flipped his can call a few times to bleat like a doe. He also made a few grunts with his tube. But the woods were dead.
"I had been sitting there without seeing anything," he said. "Then, about 10 minutes to 10:00, I heard a deer running in my direction. It was a doe, coming up the logging road and breathing hard. I thought maybe a coyote or dog was chasing her until she stopped at 30 yards and glanced back over her shoulder. I leaned back into the tree for cover.
"Soon afterward, I heard about five or six grunts and looked to the right. But I didn't see anything," he said. "Finally, I saw the doe again, as well as her pursuer - the buck I had been hunting!
"It was just standing there, looking at the doe, unconcerned with me. When I raised the crossbow, the buck was about 23 yards out and quartering away from me. When I pulled the trigger, I was pretty sure it was a good shot. But I couldn't tell exactly where I'd hit it."
Just in case it wasn't a good hit, Marlon waited about two and a half hours before starting the search. He found lots of blood and hair where the buck had been standing. After trailing it for 100 yards, he came upon the fallen 6x6, but it wasn't a 6x6; it was a 12x17!
"When I walked up to that deer, I was stunned. Points were everywhere, and the rack itself was massive. I didn't know there was that much non-typicalness to it."
Official Score: 232 3/8"
Composite Score: 250 2/8"
Photos Courtesy of: Marion Hale
-- Reprinted from the December 2006 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine