It took only a few seconds to make a memory that will last a lifetime.
The alarm went off at 3 a.m. on Oct. 21, 2006, and Justin Metzner rose from his bed to prepare for a bowhunt in southern Ohio.
Once dressed, he headed out to pick up his buddy, Jeremy Fannin, and the two hunters began the three-hour drive to Adams County. Their destination was an 80-acre farm that joins the back side of Brush Creek State Forest.
Justin and Jeremy have hunted that tract for years, but had not given it a shot in the ’06 season. Nevertheless, Justin knew exactly where he wanted to go — a series of ridges that overlook a creek. Having turkey hunted those ridges in the spring, he was familiar with the terrain and its potential for deer.
Justin selected a tree in the dark and climbed about 20 feet. As dawn broke, he ranged a well-used trail below his stand by the creek. Moments later, a large doe made her way down the path. More than happy to put some meat in the freezer, Justin decided to take her. The doe took off after the shot, and the hunter got down to check for sign of a hit.
Finally locating his arrow, he concluded that it had been a clean miss. Out of the tree and figuring he had blown any chance of seeing anything else that morning, Justin decided to do some scouting. He found a dense thicket next to the creek that was loaded with deer sign. Especially appealing were some rubs that he felt confident had been produced by a large buck.
Justin then went back to the truck to meet up with Jeremy. The two headed into town and, over pizza, planned their afternoon hunts. Based on his scouting discoveries, Justin said he was heading back to the same general area, but he would be moving his stand to a tree closer to the thicket. He had picked out a new perch near the deer sanctuary.
“I really liked a particular spot where three trails came together,” he said. “Also, the new stand location allowed me to be higher on the ridge and overlook the trail where the deer cross the creek. By being higher, the deer were not able to pick me off as they came down the ridge. In my morning stand, I was at their eye level.”
Around 3 p.m., Justin had settled in for the evening hunt with his senses on edge. He smiles when he readily admits that he often naps while on stand. But on that particular day, he was too anxious to doze as he waited for evening and peak deer movement.
Shortly before dusk, a doe exploded out of the thicket, startling the hunter. The deer ran up the hill, circled Justin’s tree several times and then disappeared. Minutes later, the doe returned and repeated the performance. Puzzled, Justin readied for a shot, wondering what had caused the doe’s strange behavior (and secretly hoping it was a big buck).
Scanning the woods, Justin spotted a deer standing at the edge of the creek. It took only a second to realize it was a buck — and a shooter.
“That buck snuck in on me,” he said. “It all happened so fast that I didn’t have a chance to get nervous. I usually shake and get really nervous, but there was no time for that.”
The deer was already in range as it sauntered forward on the trail. Justin drew his Bear Instinct without alerting the buck. As it neared an opening, the whitetail slowed, almost to a stop. Settling his top pin, Justin loosed the arrow.
“It was really neat, because the buck paused right in a shooting lane at the creek crossing. I didn’t have to grunt or whistle to stop him. He stopped on his own, and I was already at full draw. I knew then that it was meant to be.”
Upon impact, the buck ran up the hill toward the hunter. That was when Justin got his first good look at the rack. He couldn’t believe his eyes. The tine length was amazing, and there were plenty of tines at that.
Seconds later, the buck stumbled. It eventually fell just 30 yards behind Justin’s stand. The bowhunter sat down to collect his thoughts and immediately began to thank the Lord for providing him with an encounter with such a magnificent animal.
When the buck expired, it fell between two trees. Justin had a clear view and knew it was safe to get down and claim his prize. Once on the ground, he approached the deer and still couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
After marveling over the deer, Justin went to seek help. Ironically, Jeremy had connected on a fork-horn and had dragged the deer to the field’s edge. Meeting up with Jeremy, Justin asked him to help recover his deer. When Jeremy asked about the buck, Justin jokingly told him that the deer was big, but not huge.
When the pair approached the fallen monarch, Jeremy yelled, “That’s the biggest deer I’ve ever seen! That’s what it’s all about!”
After congratulatory hugs and high-fives, the pair decided to take their equipment to the field and return unburdened to bring out the deer. It took a long time, with many breaks, to drag the buck the long distance to the edge of the field. Once there, the pair went to get the assistance of the landowner and his tractor.
Justin said he has been around hunting a long time and has had the pleasure of assisting others after the harvest of large deer. His father and siblings have taken deer pushing 150 inches, and he says he enjoyed helping with every one of those bucks. But nothing can compare to the feeling of dragging your own wallhanger out of the woods.
“It’s hard to explain what it feels like to take a buck of this caliber,” Justin said. “It has been a life-changing experience. It is hard to put into words the emotions that I have experienced since taking this buck.”
With an official score of 193 6/8 inches, the mainframe 10-pointer is No. 7 among Typicals in the BTR’s compound bow category.
This article was published in the September 2007 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.