Had it not been for a couple of sharp-eyed nannies, the Hoosier buck Ian Denu shot last year might still be alive and kicking.
The hunter from Dubois had no idea the buck of his dreams was hiding in a briar patch 80 yards from his stand until two does spotted it. Even then, he might've never bothered to pick up his binoculars if they hadn’t continued staring for 10 minutes.
Ian hunts 30 acres in Dubois County. A third of the hilly acreage is planted in corn, but he's also established food plots and puts out minerals for the deer.
He had known about this buck since 2018. The then-young 10-pointer might have worn 140 inches of antler, and Ian resisted his initial urge to shoot it as it passed underneath his stand.
In 2019, the whitetail packed on another 35 inches. And it gained another 25 inches ahead of the 2020 season, when Ian went all-in on the whitetail his neighbors had begun calling Kingpin.
“You could say I dedicated my whole year to that deer,” he told Gita Smith, who’s writing the story for Rack magazine. “It was the only buck for which I was going to cut my tag.”
While his four trail cameras weren’t yielding photos of the buck, he saw it chasing a doe during the bow season. He collected one photo in early November, enough to give him hope, but it was more fluke than forecast.
Ian fought off thoughts of someone else shooting the AWOL deer. If it was dead, he was sure he’d have heard about it
He couldn’t hunt as often as he wanted because he coaches girls softball. But after that season ended, he became obsessed and split all his free time between four deer stands, allowing the wind to dictate his destination.
On Friday morning, Nov. 20, Ian climbed a ladder stand before daybreak. By 8:30, he grew concerned with the swirling breeze and decided the time would be better spent scouting for new setups for his trail cams.
“While I walked around, I saw a white oak I’d never climbed. It offered a good vantage point, about 100 yards from my usual stands,” he said. “I left the property to run some errands, and as I thought about it, I decided to grab my climbing stand and rifle and go back.
He was aloft in the new tree about 20 minutes before 5 p.m., which gave him less than an hour and a half to hunt. No sooner had he hung his rifle, he spotted a couple of does feeding on acorns on the hillside to his left.
Maybe 20 minutes later, they both stopped eating to stare at a thicket 80 yards to his right.
Determined to discover what was holding their attention for so long, Ian peered through his binoculars. He saw just enough of the buck’s rack to realize it was none other than Kingpin.
Moments later, his .308 barked twice, the second shot mostly for insurance.
The deer wound up scoring 200 1/8 inches, the fourth-largest from Dubois County that’s recorded in Buckmasters’ record book.
— Read Recent Blog! When a Camera Hog Disappears, Move the Camera! With a Buckmasters score of 207 5/8 inches, the huge 8x8 is the largest crossbow-felled buck ever recorded from Champaign County, Ohio.