The 17-point legend may gross over 200…
Kyle Bonner isn’t exactly Superman but he does have nerves of steel. The North Branch resident killed a local legend on private property on October 23rd. The buck is a monster that should score well over 200 inches after the 90 day drying period.
Kyle is an avid hunter that developed an early love for hunting while spending time with his Grandpa Vic Bonner in the Upper Peninsula near Newberry. Now 21 years old, he shares his passion with his hunting partner and brother Cody.
Kyle’s amazing story started two years ago after some locals starting seeing the monster buck near his family’s property.
“Two years ago I didn’t see this buck but everyone was talking about him. Some guys had some video footage of him, so we knew he was around,” said Bonner.
Then this past spring a neighboring farmer found one of his sheds and later another farmer found the other side of his antlers a couple hundred yards away from the first shed. Kyle and Cody started to look for this buck and they found him one day in August.
“He only showed himself for about a week. I finally saw him the first week of August when I was driving down the road. He was standing in a hay field just off the road. We have always heard there was a big buck around. I couldn’t believe that I had my video camera with me. I couldn’t believe I even saw him. I was just happy to see him,” said Kyle. Bonner recorded about 30 seconds of footage and noticed the big buck was a 17-point with a huge crab claw on one side.
Then the buck disappeared for about a month.
Bonner said, “He totally disappeared but I got one trail camera picture of him during the first of September. It was great because the picture was just before he dropped his velvet.”
Bonner was excited at the prospect of a buck of this magnitude near his hunting spot, but getting him into bow range would be another story. Even though he was in the general area, there were no guarantees he would still be around when hunting season opened.
Fast forward to Saturday, October 23rd. Bonner didn’t go out in the morning because of the full moon but he knew exactly where he would be hunting later that night. He picked one of his best treestands, a stand that he saves for late October rutting action. He had only hunted this set one time before his primetime encounter.
The wind was perfect and there was a little drizzle that made the usually crunchy fall leaves quiet. The stand is located within 70 yards of an established bedding area that serves as a perfect sanctuary. The wind direction and rain gave Kyle the perfect condition to hunt this particular stand.
“It’s so thick, the only time we go into the sanctuary is in the spring and summer when we try to make it thicker,” said Bonner.
Most hunters wouldn’t be able to function knowing a buck like that was cruising around their hunting spot. But on this faithful hunt, that big buck wasn’t even on Kyle’s mind.
“I wasn’t expecting to see him in the woods that I was hunting. There are still a lot of crops on fields nearby, especially a lot of corn. They have taken a couple fields off but not a lot. I thought my best chance for that buck would be the late season, when a lot of the crops were picked.
Bonner knew that this spot would be good and he had one thing on his mind.
“I was thinking that I was going to shoot a mature buck but I wasn’t expecting this giant. I was seeing a lot of rubs in the area. I hunted the stand the week before and made a few mock scrapes, when I got there that night they were tore up. I was excited, but never expected to see what I saw,” said Bonner.
Kyle settled into his stand around 3:30 p.m. At around 4:15 p.m. he heard loud cracking.
It was so loud it startled him and he started to look around to pinpoint the sound. The Flint River is only about 40 yards east of his stand and it forms a natural funnel towards his stand and that is where he turned to see what was making the ridiculously loud noise.
“I looked around and saw movement on the other side of the river. It was about 90 yards from my treestand. I was scared when I heard the horns crack, it made such a loud noise. I saw two bucks, one smaller one and one huge one. I started to shake when I saw a glimpse of the big buck, it was hard to focus.”
Bonner added, “The little buck went to the east and I started praying hoping he didn’t follow him. The big buck ended up going to the west towards the bedding area that I was hunting. The river is really low and there is a natural crossing spot. I only saw him for about 30 seconds and I lost him in the thick brush, both bucks disappeared. I instantly focused on the bedding to my south hoping that is where he was headed.”
Than came the two longest hours of Kyle’s life. He waited and watched the core bedding area hoping to catch a glimpse of the monster buck.
“I was so focused on the thicket in front of me I was hoping that is where he would come out. I knew that was our sanctuary and that was why I was in that stand,” said Bonner.
About an hour later, Kyle caught movement but it wasn’t the monster buck. It was a yearling doe fawn slowly feeding through his turnip food plot.
The wait continued…
At around 6:30 p.m. he noticed movement about 45 yards away but it was in the thickest part of the sanctuary, right where Bonner thought the buck would be.
“It was so thick the only thing I could see was his nose, it was so quiet because the leaves where wet. I caught movement and looked while he was stepping forward. I saw him and immediately saw his mass and told myself he was a shooter. I didn’t want to study the horns so I focused on his body. I hooked the release on and got ready,” said Bonner.
Years of deer hunting helped get Kyle ready for this moment. The buck walked towards the food plot and he stopped at about forty yards away from Bonner.
“He was facing directly at me. It was still too thick for a shot so I was waiting for him to clear the thick area. He needed to come another five to ten yards for a shot. My heart was pounding out of my chest. He was moving real slow. He was kind of picking at the food plot and I kept trying to focus on his body, not his horns. He stayed there for five long minutes!” exclaimed Bonner.
Bonner added, “I was trying to think of what he might do, I was wondering if he was going to turn around or skirt the food plot outside of bow range. At that point I was starting to freak out and get a little impatient wondering if he was going to give me clear shot.”
After the longest five minutes of his life, the deer started to walk forward but it was still walking right towards Bonner. The buck finally entered the food plot.
The deer was walking broadside at 20 yards. Once its head was behind a large tree, Bonner went to draw his bow. Than the buck turned and stopped, looking in Kyle’s direction.
“He turned so I had to stop. The doe fawn had worked her way back into my food plot and sneezed under my stand. I was worried that she was trying to pick me off and wind me. The monster buck looked right at the doe fawn and as she stood directly under my tree. He looked up and put his head down and looked away back to thicket giving me a perfect chance to draw. I went to full draw and he started walking. I pinned him and grunted to stop him,” said Bonner.
What happened next is a surreal memory.
“It was so fast. I released my arrow and I saw it hit him up by his shoulder. I didn’t hear a big smack so I knew that was good. I could see the arrow penetrate and knew that I took him through the front shoulder and vitals. As he ran away, he broke my arrow in two pieces,” said Bonner.
The big buck ran and fell a couple times crashing through the woods.
Than there was silence, the only sound was the pounding of Kyle’s heart. Followed by the tense minutes to follow, hoping and praying that he had made a lethal hit. The crazy thing is that Bonner still didn’t know that he had shot the monster buck.
“I kept replaying the shot over and over in my head. I knew it was the biggest deer I had ever seen, but even then I didn’t know it was this big one,” said Bonner.
Bonner was so focused on making a good shot, he hadn’t examined the deer’s antlers or spread. He knew it was big; not looking at the massive rack was one major key to his success.
After waiting about a half-hour, Bonner snuck out and headed out of the woods in the opposite direction of where he last saw the big buck. He went home and told his brother everything about the hunt. After another two hours, Kyle and Cody headed back into the woods to search for the buck.
“We went real slow and quiet at first. I found the arrow and it had great penetration, so I was real excited. The arrow went through both shoulders and it was actually poking out his opposite shoulder. We tracked for a little bit finding blood but not great blood. Then I saw a tree that was totally sprayed with blood and I started to get real excited. I kept telling myself I just got my first wall hanger,” said Bonner.
Suddenly Bonner shined his flashlight about thirty yards ahead and saw a white belly. The deer landed in a position that almost made it look like it was bedded down.
“My brother said, “You got to be kidding me.” We both ran towards it and Cody was yelling, ‘you just killed the big one!'” It was an awesome moment because Cody had worked so hard for that deer too. We were so excited holding his rack, we were flipping out. It was unbelievable, it was the biggest high I have ever had,” explained Bonner.
Bonner was in for a real big surprise, the surprise of the 200 plus inch kind. Since Bonner was so focused on not looking at the rack, he had estimated the deer to be around a 160 class. Up until that point, Bonner didn’t even know that he had killed the legendary neighborhood buck.
By the time they got the buck home there was already a ton of people waiting to see the local legend.
“People were just in awe, it’s just huge. We had people here all day. It was amazing,” said Bonner.