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An 8-Pointer For The Ages

An 8-Pointer For The Ages

By Mark Melotik

For some dedicated whitetailers there’s just nothing like a record-class 8-pointer, and Maine’s Tim Elsenheimer, 61, would certainly agree. On Oct. 3, 2023, he bagged an 8-point Maine monarch that has rewritten the BTR recordbook. The stunningly clean, massive deer was anchored after an almost unbelievable five-year chase, but then almost everything about the Tim buck is special.

One reason big eights command so much respect? These genetic freaks defy at least two major sets of odds. Growing enough tine length and mass to make up for lack of more tines is the most obvious; another would be the difficulty of remaining clean — kicker/sticker free — as they pack on mass while aging into maturity. Those extra growths are common in many bucks 4 1/2-year-old and older, and Tim’s buck was an estimated 7 1/2!

Tim’s first encounter with the then 3 1/2-year-old came back in 2019. It happened on the avid deer hunter’s 75-acre Penobscot County property holding three smallish food plots, a tract that has been managed tightly for deer for more than 20 years.

“That summer I got a trail camera photo of him in velvet on my back food plot,” Tim said. “He was a beautiful clean 8, maybe 120 to 130 inches. I guessed him at 3 1/2 years of age, and that’s when I named him the Clean 8.”

Tim considers shooters on his property to be bucks at least 4 1/2 years old, and during that fall he passed on the promising young deer several times with various weapons. The deer got a pass two times during bow season, once during rifle season at 100 yards, and another during muzzleloader season as it stood just 20 feet from his box blind.

That early restraint finally paid off a full four years later following a catalog of yearly trail camera photos, and a mostly unbelievable string of heart-wrenching twists and turns.

Armed with a new crossbow purchased specifically for the big 8’s pursuit, Tim — just home from a successful moose hunt with family in northern Maine — would finally get a chance at his dream buck on Oct. 3, 2023. Actually, he’d get two.

That day the big deer had emerged as predicted in late evening, as Tim watched from his box blind some 160 yards away. He would eventually range the deer as it inched closer and paused, broadside, at 60 yards. Knowing he could make that shot, Tim prepared while the buck inched still closer. As it turned broadside again, Tim leveled his crossbow and squeezed the trigger — then watched in horror as his arrow sailed harmlessly over the buck’s back. In the excitement he’d failed to compensate for the buck moving closer.

“He just spun around, stared at the arrow, and stared back at me,” Tim recalled. “I thought, ‘You just blew it.’ But he just trotted a ways, and stopped.”

With the buck standing still, Tim quickly cocked his crossbow inside his blind, loaded another arrow and again ranged the deer. It stood at 42 yards, broadside.

“At the shot I heard a sound like someone hitting a drum, and he just tucked his tail and ran into our woods, toward our house.”

Unsure of his hit, Tim waited an hour. In full dark, he walked to where the buck entered the woods and peered in. Only his lighted nock, broken off the shaft, was visible. At that point he called to hire a local tracking dog, but his dread proved unwarranted. While waiting for his sons to arrive Tim followed up on his own. Soon, his flashlight beam revealed the buck piled up by an apple tree. Right where the monster 8 had fed many times.

“He only went about 60 yards,” Tim said. “You could see my house from the apple tree about 250 yards away. Then the celebration began.”

How special is the Elsenheimer buck? With a BTR score of 180 1/8 it ranks No. 1 in the state of Maine in the Crossbow Perfect category, and is No. 2 in the state for all-weapons Perfects (but is the largest 8-pointer). It also ranks No. 23 in the nation for Crossbow Perfects, but is the second-biggest Perfect 8-pointer ever taken with a crossbow.

As eluded to in the opening above, the five-year quest for this Maine monster is every bit as amazing as the buck’s stellar score. To read the entire incredible story, complete with trail camera photos spanning five separate seasons — and info on three sets of the buck’s sheds found by distant neighbors — be sure to check out the story in RACK magazine.

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