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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog


Travis Cockburn

By Mike Handley

Travis Cockburn winced whenever he heard a gunshot during last November’s firearms season in Illinois. But it wasn’t because slugs were whizzing past his head or splintering nearby trees.

With every bang, he just knew somebody had shot the cartoonishly big buck his son, Caden, had nicknamed Ginormica after seeing summertime trail cam photographs of the beast in velvet. Seems everyone in Johnston City knew about the deer.

The bodacious and nocturnal buck was thrice photographed on the Cockburns’ 80 acres, the last time on Sept. 1. At least one neighboring landowner got 30 photos.

After not seeing the buck in the flesh or on a camera during the first six weeks of bow season, Travis’ hopes were tainted with fear that someone would shoot the giant deer when the gun season opened. But no news was good news.

When Travis took his bow afield on Nov. 27, a Sunday afternoon, he never expected to see the brute.

“I saw only a bobcat until around 4:15,” he said. “And then I spotted something off to the side and turned to see this freak slipping down the creek, knee deep in water. In the span of 15 seconds, he was broadside to me at 18 yards.”

At 256 4/8 inches (not including the spread), the 35-pointer was the largest whitetail to hit the dirt in 2011. It’s the runner-up to the state compound bow record and the fifth largest ever felled in Illinois (by any means). Among all states’ irregular archery harvests, it’s No. 8.

Be sure to read the whole story and see the trail cam photo that inspired the buck’s nickname in Rack magazine this fall.

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