My buddies and I first became aware of this deer in August 2012, but nobody saw it during daylight hours until the hunting season was almost at an end. On that day, the bowhunter who saw it said the buck’s rack looked pretty busted up, so we all decided to hold off in hopes it would survive another year.
During the summer of 2013, one of several trail cameras eventually yielded a photo of the deer, rack intact. We were amazed at how much its antlers had grown.
I moved cameras around for a month, trying to pinpoint when and where the deer was moving. Finally, a couple of weeks prior to opening day, I started collecting daytime pictures of it on a regular basis.
The day before the season opened, my buddies told me they were not hunting with me that morning because they wanted me to have the first chance at the giant. They knew it had been several years since I’d shot a nice buck because I’d been taking my youngest daughter hunting in hopes that she would shoot one. (And she did.)
Even so, I really didn’t expect to even see the buck that morning because I figured I would spook deer walking to my stand, or the wind would not be right. So I wasn’t really that excited.
When I woke up that morning, I went outside to check the wind, which was uncharacteristically perfect for where I wanted to hunt. That improved my disposition considerably. You might even say I was anxious, which is why I walked in to the stand earlier than I normally would.
It was really quiet out there. I remember sound carrying a long way, and just knew I would jump deer as I neared the stand. But if I did, I never heard a thing.
About 15 minutes before daybreak, while aloft with my cocked crossbow, I thought I saw something move through a small opening where the camera had photographed the buck nearly every morning.
As it started getting light, I saw a deer step into the gap. Looking through the scope, I saw a drop tine and realized it was the big one, and it was only 12 yards from me.
I forced myself look away, because my heart was racing. It was difficult to remain halfway calm. But I couldn’t keep my eyes off it for very long. I constantly glanced over to make sure it was still there. I did not want to look at the rack, however, because it was all I could do to keep from dropping my crossbow.
When it was light enough to make a clear shot, I looked at the buck facing me, which meant I had no shot. The next time I looked, it turned its head to look behind and over its shoulder. That’s when I decided it was then or never, and I put the crosshairs on its shoulder and squeezed the trigger.
I heard a loud crack and, to my amazement, the buck dropped right there, kicked twice, and then lay still.
I was shaking. All I could think was that it was going to jump up and run off at any second. But it never moved again.
Afterward, I shakily texted my buddies to let them know the big nontypical was on the ground, and they dropped everything to join me. When I approached the deer, I was truly in awe of this magnificent animal. Never before had I seen such a buck.
Even though I’d seen photographs, I had no idea it was so big.
When the deer was back at camp, we just kind of stared at it. None of us had a clue about how to go about measuring those antlers.
The buck was approximately 4 1/2 years old and weighed 235 pounds.
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Hunter: Charles Falkenheiner
BTR Official Score: 231 1/8
BTR Composite Score: 248 2/8
Date: October 1, 2013