When Bryan LeVan left work at 3:30 on Nov. 5, 2018, his destination was the 180-acre tract he’s deer hunted for two decades.
The highway worker from West Liberty, Ohio, was hoping to see the piebald buck that had been on his radar for two seasons. He hadn’t been able to set out trail cameras that year, so he had no idea what else might be living on or passing through the tract.
Upon reaching the property, he grabbed his 20-year-old Mathews bow and struck out for a 15-foot-tall ladder stand at the mouth of a wide ravine. Bedding habitat was on one side, and crops were on the other.
Around 5 p.m., the rustling of leaves signaled the slow approach of two does. Seconds later, Bryan noticed a third deer, wearing antlers, on their backtrail.
“Because the buck came from behind me on my right side, I didn’t have a shot,” he told Duncan Dobie, who’s writing the story for Rack magazine. “I had to let it walk on by. I could see only part of a main beam, but he looked like a very nice deer.”
While the buck stopped to ravage a small tree on the opposite side of the ravine, right in front of the stand on that side, the does curved back toward Bryan. Fearing they would see him if he reached for his call, he tried to get their boyfriend’s attention by grunting with his mouth.
“I grunted as deeply as I could,” he said. “I didn’t know how the buck would react.”
Fortunately, the reaction was immediate and exactly what the bowhunter wanted.
The buck bristled and started walking toward the ventriloquist in the tree. It came in from Bryan’s left, perfect for the right-handed archer.
Bryan released his arrow when the deer – cornstalks dangling from its rack – stopped broadside at 35 yards.
Bryan’s 7 ½-year-old whitetail tallies 227 5/8 inches on the BTR scale. Field-dressed, it tipped the scales at 225 pounds.
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