You know you have a big buck when you shoot the one the taxidermist is after.
I have lived in Wisconsin for almost seven years now and have been fortunate to meet some unique and fine people. One of those people is the owner of 751 acres near Bear Valley, where we hunt and practice fine deer management.
On Nov. 3, 2004, I was headed to a stand I used a few weeks earlier to earn my buck tag. Earning a buck sounds easy, but it took me nine hunts to get a doe. It seemed like all I saw were bucks and squirrels. I hoped that trend would continue as I arrived in my stand about 20 minutes before daylight. The temperature that morning was 45 degrees with no wind.
We have several trail cameras that have revealed a number of shooter bucks, with antlers outside the ears. I was in the stand for almost 3 1/2 hours before seeing one. I spotted movement about 50 yards out and immediately came to the conclusion that it was the biggest-bodied deer I had ever seen. My heart started to pound as I grabbed my bow and looked for a shooting lane. When I glanced back at the deer, I was able to confirm that the antlers were outside the ears.
With a shooting lane picked out, I then began to decide when to draw. The buck stopped behind a large oak, making the decision for me. When it stepped out and stopped broadside at 30 yards, I pulled the trigger on my release.
In one smooth motion, the deer jumped, turned 180 degrees and bolted out of there. As it ran, I saw blood coming out of its right side, confirming my thoughts that it had been a clean pass-through.
As this magnificent animal ran out of sight, my emotions were running wild, and I made sure my safety strap was still attached as I sat down. My legs started to shake so badly that I decided it would be safer for me to sit on the ground. I sat down at the base of the tree and waited for what seemed to be about 15 minutes but was probably only one.
Then I walked to the spot where I shot and found my arrow completely covered in blood. There was good sign on both sides of the path, and I found the deer just 40 yards later.
I was overcome by emotion, feeling like I was in a dream. I didn’t realize how big the buck was until I took it to the registration station and watched in amazement as crowds of people stopped by to see it.
With just 8 points, my buck received an official Pope & Young score of 156 5/8 (166 4/8 gross). The main beams were 29 1/8 and 27 6/8 inches, with an inside spread of 23 7/8 inches.
But the story doesn’t end there. Once I arrived at Alive Look Taxidermy, owner Bill Hetzel was curious if I had shot one of the big deer that he was hunting in the area.
Once Bill viewed the rack, he stated that I had shot the Kessnich King. He then produced sheds from the animal I just harvested. The antlers were from 2002 and gross-scored 121 inches. The measurer estimated that the buck gained 25 4/8 inches in two years.
I then showed the landowner the antlers, and he pulled out two photos from our “Book of Bucks,” which had been compiled over the previous few years. The trail-camera photos had been taken in 2003, and the deer were in full velvet. He called me a week later to inform me that he had another great photo of my buck that was taken just four days before I shot it.
I feel blessed to be able to experience any hunting opportunity whether I harvest an animal or not. I’m also blessed to have good friends and the privilege of being able to hunt such a breathtaking piece of land.
This article was published in the November 2007 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.