posted on December 08, 2013 14:50
By Mike Handley
Like the frog that refuses to let go and be swallowed by a heron, 41-year-old Mike Miller of Marion, Ark., will not go gently into that abyss known as self pity.
He'd rather count points than woes.Before a stem cell transplant from his twin brother, Mark, finally pinned it to the mat, Mike wrestled with leukemia for 18 months. During that time, in 2002 and 2003, the prognosis changed almost weekly.
He wound up beating the cancer, but chemotherapy and radiation treatments left him almost unable to get up and move. Whenever he does, he's rendered almost breathless. And his long-distance vision is impaired.
But he considers himself lucky, since doctors originally predicted he'd not be able to walk.Any one of Mike's myriad ailments would be a perfectly acceptable excuse to quit hunting. But he won't. Friends, family and trading his compound for a crossbow have allowed him to keep at it.
Mike was thrilled in 2012, when his trail camera yielded photographs a nocturnal Cross County buck he and his brother had been hoping to tag for a couple of seasons.
The first chance he got to sit over the food plot - the first time there was a favorable wind – was on Oct. 6. But that hunt was a bust.
So worried about spooking the big mature buck, he almost didn't return the next afternoon, though the wind was again perfect. In his heart of hearts, he thought two days in a row were too much pressure.
Fortunately for him, he was wrong.His brother, Mark, and a friend, Lance Lovell, tracked the heart-shot deer and then helped Mike reach the downed 21-pointer so he could be the first to put his hands on it.
The following day, Mike checked his trail camera on the food plot where he shot his buck. Photos revealed that, for the first time in two years, the deer had visited the plot during daylight hours. In fact, it had apparently been in the field when Mike arrived on his four-wheeler.
That it returned only a couple of hours after being spooked just blew Mike's mind.
"I was truly blessed," he said.
Larry Jones measured the deer and wrote the story for RACK's September issue. The BTR composite score is 223 3/8 inches.