Mike Beadle's South Dakota buck was one of the first to come across my radar in 2021. I had the pleasure of speaking with the 45-year-old from Aberdeen within days of the Sept. 12 harvest.
He was still dancing on the moon, every detail still fresh.
Mike was amazed that his hunt for this buck had ended so soon, that he'd sealed the deal while it was still warm enough outside for mosquitoes to buzz him. In fact, he said one had landed on his nose after he'd drawn his bow.
He'd even knocked it off with his taut bowstring.
If he hadn't known a world-class whitetail was roaming the family's land, he might've stayed home that afternoon and watched a football game on television.
He retrieved the first trail camera image of the buck in late May, when its antlers looked like little mossy trees. A buddy called it The Goat, an acronym for The Greatest Deer Of All Time.
The second nighttime photo came in July, followed by a few more in August. He saw the deer in person on the afternoon of Sept. 12.
Mike went afield that day around 4:00. Before climbing into the double ladder stand west of one of the property's shelterbelts, he sprayed himself with a scent neutralizer. He also used an Ozonics machine, until the wind ceased.
When there was only 30 minutes of daylight remaining, as is his custom, he stood with his bow. Twenty minutes later, a doe and fawn came through, passing within 5 yards of his tree.
When those two deer vanished, Mike heard something else walking behind him. He assumed the doe and the fawn had merely circled back, but he was wrong.
None other than The Goat was approaching.
"My brain just stopped working," he told John Phillips, who's writing the story for Rack magazine. "I mentally had to talk myself down. I thought, Just shoot the thing. You've drawn on deer thousands of times. Get the string to your anchor point, and shoot!"
The self-coaching worked. Moments later, Mike saw his arrow's illuminated nock burying into the buck of his dreams. An hour later, he began following the red trail in his flashlight's beam.
The South Dakota whopper was rough-scored at 218 7/8 inches, a tally that doesn't reflect the electric fence wire entangled among the 26 points.
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