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The Third Hail Mary

The Third Hail Mary

By Mike Handley

A city ordinance almost prevented Randy Kukral from scoring his career-best whitetail last month. The desperate - and now smiling - man's Hail Marys involved talking to a police chief and knocking on two doors.

Where Randy lives and hunts in Portage County, Ohio, a hunter isn't allowed to shoot a deer off any property with fewer than 8 acres. While the impressive whitetail never ventured into the 12 acres Randy hunts, at least while the sun was shining, cellular trail cameras revealed it was staging on the adjacent 7.5-acre tract every afternoon before stepping across the line en route to his food plot.

The deer he nicknamed Diesel was passing in front of the lens every evening between 4:30 and 5:30.

Midmorning on Nov. 4, Randy actually saw Diesel follow a doe into the free zone.

Knowing exactly where the deer was and might remain until dusk, he went to the town's police chief to ask for a temporary exemption to the no-shoot rule. No dice.

His next-best plan was to knock on the door of the owners of the adjacent 30 acres, which would put him nearer the buck. The wife said no, even after Randy offered to perform $1,000 worth of landscaping.

Plan C involved asking yet another landowner. That time, he got a yes, if he would agree to shoot a couple of does.


That very afternoon, Randy went home to shower and retrieve his crossbow and tree saddle. When he arrived at the property, which basically allowed him to go 100 yards deeper and away from his own food plot, he used a drag line and hung some wicks doused with scent before climbing 25 feet up a hickory tree.

"I hoped the 100 yards would give me shooting-light advantage," he explained to Gita Smith, who's writing the story for Rack magazine. "I knew Diesel had to come past a certain camera in that finger, probably around 6 p.m., to get to me while there was still shooting light.

"When he hadn't shown by 6:20, I decided to get out of there. Otherwise, I'd get stuck for 45 minutes with all the does and smaller bucks feeding in my food plots."

Before Randy could leave, however, the 20-pointer materialized 45 yards from him. Clearly, the buck was staging and testing the breeze, downwind and downhill from the food plot.

The gobsmacked hunter wound up getting a 35-yard shot at the giant whitetail with 6-inch bases, which collapsed 20 yards into its retreat. The rack tallies 210 7/8 by Buckmasters' yardstick, mirroring the wattage of Randy's smile.

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