When Bo Middleton’s grandfather, the late Floyd “Cooney” Sanders, told him he’d seen a great big buck while looking out his kitchen window, Bo humored him. But the more the 28-year-old thought about it, he could not dismiss the possibility.
“He was getting on (in years), and he could not see that well,” Bo said of his 84-year-old grandpa, who died in January. “But I figured if he could even see antlers on a deer at 300 or 400 yards, they must’ve been pretty big.”
Confirmation came later, when a friend saw a bruiser of a buck cross the road close to his grandfather’s 60 acres near Elgin, Okla.
Bo doesn’t spend a lot of time in the woods. The pro angler would rather be on a lake, jacking the jaws of bass and fishing for cash. He’s done pretty well, too, in the FLW tour’s Texas Division, amassing a third- and two first-place finishes, as well as the Angler of the Nation title in a span of four years. In 2010, he wound up eighth in the Bassmaster Central Open point standings.
Tournament winnings help offset the cost of pulling a bass boat across the South. Welding between tourneys puts groceries on the table.
Between work and fishing, Bo has very little time to pursue whitetails. After hearing about the giant buck on his grandfather’s place, however, he went in and shored up a three-year-old ground blind. The setup, a bunch of limbs and sticks woven together with camouflaged netting, was about 20 yards from a creek on the property’s brushy back side.
Bo usually bowhunts from a treestand overlooking a wheat field. But the deer magnet where he arrowed a 193-inch buck in 2009 had not been planted in 2010.
On the afternoon of Nov. 18, Bo took off from work about 3:30 and paid his third visit to the blind. He was inside by 4:30, sitting on the ground.
“I probably didn’t have an hour to hunt,” he said. “But I have to go when I can.”
Turns out, that’s all the time he needed to be in the right place.
Bo was amazed to see the large buck sauntering toward him. He rolled up on a knee as the deer approached. He could tell the rack was “knotted up,” though he couldn’t count points beyond the drop tine on the nearest side.
“There wasn’t nearly enough time to study the antlers,” he said. “I saw the drop tine and some more trash, but that’s about it.”
When it was at 35 yards in a matter of a few short minutes, Bo couldn’t wait any longer. Not unlike trying to set the hook too soon while dragging a plastic worm through a logjam, he must’ve rushed the shot.
The arrow missed, but the noise it made beyond the startled target caused it to come even closer. The second time Bo’s string hummed, the deer was inside 20 yards, and the solid thwack foretold the animal’s fate.
Afraid he might push the deer onto the adjoining property, Bo waited almost four hours before taking up the bloodless trail with a friend. With no sign to follow, they combed the thick creek bottom until they found it.
Bo’s not one to do a moon-walk when he wins, but his grin has more wattage behind it than the American Idol stage.
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Hunter: Bo Middelton
BTR Official Score: 232 7/8
BTR Composite Score: 253 4/8
Weapon: Compound Bow
Location: Comanche County, Oklahoma
Date: November 18, 2010