By Randall Bowling
-- The hunt took place in Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. I received permission to hunt on a friend's property that sits next to the Osage River and has open fields and wooded areas. Nobody was allowed to hunt this land, and the owner had told me if I saw anyone to run them of the property with his blessing.
One evening I went down to scout the area for deer. The first thing I found was a hunter in a treestand! I confronted him with the owner's request that there be nobody on this property and asked if he had permission to be there.
Before I asked him politely to leave, I asked him if he had seen any good deer. He told me that he had been watching a monster 14-point buck but it wouldn't come out before dark. Of course with any hunter "monster" means different things to different people, so I was a little skeptical of how big it really was.
One week later, when the season opened, I was running late and needed to get ready to leave to meet friends. I had a bonus tag for a doe, so I decided to fill that tag before I quit for the evening. I was sitting on the edge of the field looking for a doe, and not having much luck with only 15 minutes of daylight left. I got down out of my stand to look down by the river with what little light there was. I didn't see anything at the river either, so I turned around and high stepped back to the truck.
As I was heading back, about 30 yards later, I looked up and saw a massive 12-point buck directly in front of me. I pulled up my bow and drew. To my surprise, the buck didn't even move. It stood completely still! I was able to site him in and release the arrow, hitting him perfectly behind the shoulder. The deer ran. At this point, it was too dark to track the buck. I had to go back to the house and call my buddies. We went to look for him with flashlights around midnight.
We found very small traces of blood. The creek was 50 yards to my right where the deer ran. We headed to the creek. It was swampy, and you could see tracks but not blood. After looking for the deer for two hours, we were getting ready to give it up, but I just couldn't leave with out one more look. I turned, shined my light into the creek, and all I saw was one side of a rack sticking up out of the water!
I was praying, "Lord, let that other side look as good as the one I am seeing right now!" I leaped into the creek, shaking from excitement, and heaved the deer out of the creek. Completely in shock at the size of this deer, which turned out to score 176 7/8!
Now what makes this story interesting, once the adrenaline wore off a little bit, I wondered why a deer of this size just stood there and let me get drawn on the ground when you can go for years with only a glimpse of this kind of deer. The only explanation I can find is when I originally saw this deer, I noticed its bottom jaw was dropped and it appeared that maybe it had been running does hard and was tired.
But I took it to the taxidermy and upon inspection we found it had been shot previously through the jaw with a .22 caliber rifle. Obliviously it was going down hill because it could not eat or drink since the wound had occurred. Also, I believe the buck had been bedded down as I walked by and when I walked past, it got up to cross behind me. That is when I saw it and got the chance to shoot my monster buck with a bow and arrow from the ground!
I feel very blessed to have been able to harvest an animal of that caliber and believe it was a blessing for the deer not have to suffer or starve to death. I do believe this 12-point is the "monster 14-point buck" the trespasser was watching before the season started!