Paw Paw (Two Paws) is known to many Michigan residents as vineyard and wine country. The aroma of grapes engulfs the region on some autumn days. In the hunting community it is quickly developing a reputation for big non-typical bucks.
Last year Bob Reits arrowed a giant 19-point scoring 205 5/8 non-typical that was featured in the November, 2007, issue of Woods-N-Water News. This year the same small town in Southwestern Michigan has produced an 18-point non-typical for another archery hunter, 37-year-old John Franks. John arrowed the heavy horned brute on November 13, 2008, at 4:15 p.m.
Every year John takes time off work to hunt the week before the traditional November 15 gun opener. Three years ago John shot a 4-point and decided that he would hold out for bigger bucks in the future. If a “shooter” did not provide an opportunity then he would shoot a doe during the late December season. Over the next couple of seasons Franks states that he passed up numerous small bucks.
During the 2007 season, John saw 21 bucks in four days, including four that he estimated would score over 130 P&Y and one buck in the 150 P&Y range. These sightings encouraged the hunter to continue his trophy pursuit.
On November 13 of this year John was hunting a 100 acre farm with his dad, Virge Franks. John chose an area near a creek that had thick security cover on both banks. “The spot had great sign, it was all tore up,” stated John. Behind the stand was a picked soybean field. Franks stand faced the south towards the thick cover. Periodically John would turn and look behind the tree across the open field just in case there were deer there. Just after 4 p.m., John looked back and saw a definite shooter out in the open field approaching at a pretty quick clip. The big buck changed his direction three times until it finally chose a course right to the awaiting hunter.
John drew his PSE Diamondback bow while the deer was still in the field. When the buck entered an opening in the cover John attempted to stop the buck by mouthing a doe bleat. After two unsuccessful attempts he then yelled “Hey!” which successfully stopped the deer.
When the grand buck stopped he was quartering slightly away at a distance of 30 yards and John let the arrow fly. The shot appeared perfect so the anxious archer summoned his lifetime hunting partner to help with the search. His dad had actually seen the deer exit a woodlot and head towards his son so he knew how big the buck was.
John went to the last place he saw the buck, which was approximately 70 yards from the stand. At first he could not find blood but his dad soon found some and the twosome followed an obvious trail. Eighty yards farther and the magnificent trophy was found.
The giant buck has 10 points on the left side and eight points on the right for a total of 18. John took the buck to D & R Sports in Kalamazoo, and they green-scored him at 177-2/8 gross Pope and Young points as a non-typical for the Q1-Video Buck Pole.
Paw Paw is located in VanBuren County and two other prominent bucks have been shot there within the last few years besides Reits’ and Franks’ non-typical monsters. In 2005, Ron Owens shot a high scoring (170 class) 13-point, and just last year Tom Brittenfield shot the new state record muzzleloader typical which has 15-points and nets 190-6/8 Boone and Crockett points as a typical.
Keys to John Franks’ success: Hunt where trophy bucks exist, time afield — week of vacation during the November rut, stand located close to security cover, 23 years experience afield, selectivity – passed up numerous small bucks, good shot placement, most importantly – marry an understanding wife. John wishes to extend a heartfelt thanks to his wife Amy and to his coworkers at Heco for allowing him vacation time during their busy season and the kind landowner who allows him to hunt his farm.