After a disappointing 2011 firearm opening day, with fog in the morning, and only a few small does in the evening, I was looking forward to the next day, hoping for better weather. I woke early to meet my brother Ron and his nephew Brandon. We all walked out to treestands.
As the sun came up I started feeling sick and decided to go home and crawled back into bed. When I woke up I had slept for three hours, but still didn’t feel very good. I called my brother to see if he was going back to his stand, he indicated he was going to Wednesday evening church and couldn’t go out. I called my son-in-law to see if he was going to hunt, but he didn’t answer his phone. So, I told my wife I was going to go out by myself, she encouraged me to stay home if I was still sick. I said, “You’ll never see a big buck in bed!” And left for the farm our family has been hunting for close to thirty years.
I climbed up my favorite tree with my climber at about 3:30 p.m. I was in my tree for about fifteen minutes. When I looked behind me, in the field were a couple of does. I thought that’s a good sign, deer out early. It was a beautiful afternoon, with a west wind. It was my favorite tree, twenty yards from the river. This was great, I could watch ducks, muskrats, geese were flying overhead and squirrels all around me.
Around 4 p.m. I thought that I heard a buck grunt, but I couldn’t tell which direction it came from. I reached in my pocket and hit my can call a few times. Nothing. I felt I must be hearing things. I was thinking to myself this was about the time of day my nephew, Chris, had shot a nice ten-pointer in his stand about a hundred yards away from me. Maybe five minutes later I looked to the west and saw a huge buck walking down the power line towards me. The power line was thick and brushy, and he was about seventy yards away walking in the brushiest part of the power line. Then he stopped and just stood still for two or three minutes. I had him in the crosshairs of my scope, but all I could see was his head and a huge set of antlers. I figured if he kept on course it would be hard to get a shot because he would be in woods that had been logged two years previous and it was choked with tops and briars. He teased me by rubbing his antlers on some brush for a few minutes, and then he turned around and started walking back the way he came.
I didn’t know what to do: Grunt? Hit my call? What?
After he walked about five yards, he stopped facing away from me and then he turned and began walking towards me. The buck was heading down into the tall swamp grasses and close to the river, at only fifty yards away. He stopped broadside in an opening with nothing in the way. I settled the crosshairs of my scope on my Knight muzzleloader just behind the shoulder and squeezed the trigger and click! The cap never went off! The buck just stood there. I eased back the bolt and the cap looked as if it had never been hit. It was then that I noticed the screw on the bolt was turned in a couple of turns. In a panic, I backed off the screw. When I looked up the buck was in some tall grass and I had to wait.
A minute later he came walking out on the deer trail that comes within five yards of my stand. At about twenty-five or thirty yards he was getting close, and being down wind, I thought, ‘It’s now or never.’ I lifted my gun up and as I settled the crosshairs behind his shoulder, he stopped. I said to myself, ‘Lord, please let this cap go off this time.’ I squeezed and watched him buck as the 240 grain sabot hit him true. He ran about twenty or twenty-five yards and stopped. I could see the shot was good. He stood there stiff-legged and fell over just three feet from the river. I let down my gun and began my decent with my climber, stretching the rope that connects the top and bottom with every step. When I walked up to the giant buck I couldn’t believe my eyes! I reached for my phone to call my brother. I couldn’t believe it; I had left my phone at home! I had never done this. I ran for my truck back at the house, which was about eight-hundred yards. I jumped in my truck and drove to my brother Ron’s house and banged on the door.
“Are you okay?” Ron asked me. By the look on my face he thought I had been in a car accident!
All I could get out was, “I shot a huge buck!”
Ron wanted confirmation that I got him and I excitedly said I did and “He’s got to be 150 or 160 inch buck!”
Ron didn’t hesitate and jumped on his four-wheeler and yelled, “Let’s go!” I had him call my son-in-law to meet us and jumped in my truck and followed Ron back to the farm. While driving across the field I noticed that Ron was already driving his four-wheeler back into the woods. I think he was excited.
When Ron reached the buck he yelled, “Rob, this buck is bigger than you think, he’s probably 180 inches!”
Soon my son-in-law Paul and my daughter Sarah arrived. We had forgotten a camera and it was starting to get dark. Sarah got out her phone and took some pictures.
I field dressed the buck and we loaded him on the four-wheeler and drove out to my truck. I then took him to my workplace to use the scale and the buck weighed 216 pounds!
When I arrived at home cars started pulling in the driveway. There were over fifty people that showed up to see the deer. When my nephew Chris showed up he thought I hit the lottery and guessed the deer would push the 200 inch mark. I got a tape measure and Chris and another friend Scott started measuring the 14 point. When they finished they came up with 195 1/2″. Mark from Wallhanger Taxidermy who measures for CBM came and green scored him at 196 1/8″. I said, “Chris you tried to cheat me out of 5/8 of an inch!” We laughed.
The St. Joseph Co. 14-point buck had an inside spread of over 18 inches, the longest main beam was over 26 inches and the G2 was 12 5/8 inches tall.