Phillip Pless has always considered himself a meat hunter. Last season, however, he opted for a little more gristle in his venison.
The mindset of the 42-year-old, medically-retired Navy man from Newfane, New York, changed after he retrieved a summertime trail camera image of an unbelievably huge buck in velvet. He was so bewitched by the animal that he bought a new bow sight and began shooting at targets 30 yards beyond his formerly self-imposed, 40-yard limit.
The world-class whitetail was roaming his in-laws’ 50-acre farm near Appleton.
The 2020 bow season got off to a slow start, but deer sightings – several does and a couple of small bucks – increased as the days passed. If Phillip hadn’t known the big buck existed, he probably would’ve settled for the first deer to pass within range.
He almost didn’t go hunting on Nov. 8. Had the weather been any less perfect, he would’ve stayed home.
Late in the day, Phillip spotted five deer enter the hay meadow he was monitoring. The massive buck was bringing up the rear.
While Phillip was confident he could shoot that far, he was a bit worried that he couldn’t stand without alerting all the deer. He’d never shot his bow while sitting.
His choices were to wait for all the deer to look away, or take his knees-bent chances.
The buck bounded away unstably after the arrow struck, and it collapsed after traveling only 25 yards.
Half an hour later, after he’d begun breathing normally, Phillip got down and walked to where he’d seen the deer fall. He was shocked when it wasn’t there.
Fortunately, though, it hadn’t gone very far, and the trail was easy to follow.
His taxidermist, Tim Young, said he’d never seen a deer that big come out of Niagara County. When the rack was finally measured, the tally confirmed it: 221 3/8 inches, indeed the largest compound bow harvest ever recorded there. It’s also the third largest New York specimen among all categories.
— Read Recent Blog! Son of Buckzilla: Don Gregory's 224-incher is the new Tennessee record among shotgun harvests.