A 9-year-old had the first right of refusal for a poke at this ‘big ugly’ buck. Had the deer been closer, the mount might’ve wound up in the boy’s room.
Brody Young of Mount Gilead, Ohio, devoted much of the 2015 firearms deer season to helping his 9-year-old son, Cooper, tag his first. The boy didn’t want to take just any old deer; he wanted to shoot a nice buck, maybe even the surefire monster that was well known to the family.
“When I first started getting pictures of this deer in 2013, it wasn’t spectacular. But it sure had potential,” Brody said. “The buck needed a few more years to pack on some bone.”
The distinctive animal was still on the farm in 2014, mugging day and night for Brody’s trail camera. It was a little bigger then, and the left side of its rack was deformed.
“My close friend and hunting partner, Larry Daniels, and I shared trail cameras and pictures continuously as we tried to pattern the deer,” Brody said. “We share a love for hunting and a 300-plus-acre farm.”
The trail cam photos continued throughout the ’14 hunting season, but neither Larry nor Brody saw the deer on the hoof.
“When 2015 rolled around, we wondered if the buck had survived another Ohio winter,” Brody said. “That summer, Cooper and my other two sons, 6-year-old Carson and 5-year-old Cole, joined me as I set out trail cameras to survey what might be hanging around the farm. It was a chore we all enjoyed.”
Right off the bat, they started retrieving pictures of the buck. Its bases were larger than soda cans, promising more and better things to come. Unbeknownst to Brody, the deer traveled widely. His neighbors even nicknamed it Big Ugly.
It was truly monstrous by September.
“When the Ohio bow season opened, Larry and I were on pins and needles, hoping — no, praying — one of us would get the opportunity to loose an arrow at that awesome animal,” Brody said.
“All through the early months of bow season, I hunted hard — mornings when I could, evenings for sure. I changed stands with the changing weather and wind,” he continued. “The buck stopped mugging for the cameras in late October. It just dropped off the radar.”
In early November, Brody heard rumors that someone had taken a really great buck in the area. But he never heard a name, and never saw photographs.
“I was really bummed out,” he said.
When Ohio’s firearms season opened, Brody concentrated on making Cooper’s dream come true.
“I’ve never been much of a gun hunter, but I wanted to get my son Cooper out as much as possible,” he said. “We hunted every available minute during the one-week season.
“On the last day, a Sunday, we went to our blind in the morning and sat until we had to return to the house. Cooper had a basketball game that afternoon,” he added.
When the game ended at 4:00, Cooper wanted to go home and relax, but his dad played on his desire to tag a buck, explaining there was very little season left and daylight was waning. So they returned to the blind, which was tucked in the corner of a woodlot next to a large cut cornfield.
“We got in and quickly made ourselves comfortable,” Brody said. “Cooper set up at the window so he could get a shot if a buck showed.”
The first half-hour was uneventful.
Cooper wasn’t a happy camper, at first, but his interest in shooting a doe grew as the sun began descending into the horizon.
“We tried to get situated for a shot at one of the does, but things just didn’t work out for him; the deer never gave him a safe shot,” Brody said.
A few minutes after a dejected Cooper set down the gun, his father spotted something and grabbed the binoculars.
“When I zeroed in, I realized it was a buck. I wasn’t sure how nice, but it was a buck nevertheless,” he said. “So Cooper raised his gun once more and, after what seemed like forever, said it was just too far away for him to shoot.”
Brody then shouldered his own smokepole. He estimated the quartering-away buck to be between 125 and 130 yards. The smoke plume obscured his view after the shot, but Cooper thought he saw the deer run off under full power. The kid even taunted his dad for missing, but then he stopped.
“Hang on, Dad,” he whispered. “There are more deer in the field!”
“I didn’t know whether to try a quick reload of the gun, or to grab the binoculars once again to scan the corn stubble,” Brody said. “I opted for the binocs and quickly scanned the field. I eventually saw a white blob — belly — on the ground about 40 yards from where the buck had been standing.”
Stoked, the guys sat and watched it for several minutes. Only when they were reasonably certain the buck wasn’t going anywhere did they exit the blind.
“I walked toward the buck and stopped about 80 yards from it,” he said. “We then decided to go home and get the other boys and Larry before we approached any closer.
“I called Larry to let him know,” Brody added.
Back home, everyone was excited and wanted to know how big the buck was. But Brody couldn’t answer.
He drove back with his three little boys and Larry, right onto the field and straight to the dead deer. Larry was standing in the bed of the truck, so he was the first to see it up close. He was shouting before the vehicle stopped.
Everyone pitched in for the field-dressing. Afterward, they loaded the buck in the truck and returned home to celebrate. Brody called his dad, Bill, to come join in the fun. He also called the other neighbors, the ones who had nicknamed the deer Big Ugly.
This article was published in the April 2017 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
• A Reason to be Thankful: This 24-pointer’s super powers vanish when Lady Luck switches sides.
• Derailing the Deer Train: Whenever a deer is ‘daytiming,’ it’s time to take a walk in your underwear.
• Year-old Load Has Plenty of Oomph: Rocky Top has a new No. 3 in the BTR’s blackpowder category.