It’s easy to understand why Tim Jones from Kalamazoo likes deer hunting during December. He bagged one of Michigan’s highest scoring typical bucks with a muzzleloader on December 7, 2011 and two years earlier he saw an even bigger buck while participating in the late season antlerless only firearm hunt. The Boone and Crockett qualifier he dropped with a black powder rifle in Kalamazoo County last December is a 10-point with antlers that grossed 173 2/8 and net 170 6/8.
Tim saw the monster buck he got on two occasions before the day he killed it. The first time he saw the whitetail was during the early bow season. Jones said he prefers to bowhunt over hunting with a firearm.
“I first saw the buck during October when I was bowhunting,” he said. “I have two treestands along the edge of a swamp and I went in the wrong stand that day. If I would have been in the other stand, I would have had a 15-yard shot at that buck. He was too far for a shot where I was, but I watched him for 10 to 15 minutes.”
The next time Tim saw the whitetail was the evening of December 6. The deer appeared on the opposite side of a field that was 300 yards across. There is a lone bush in the middle of the field and Jones was sitting on a folding stool by that bush the next afternoon.
“After 10 minutes, I used a can call to see if I would get a response,” he said. “Soon afterward, I saw a nice buck about 150 yards out, but he had me pegged and took off. If I would have had a chance, I would have shot that deer.”
But it’s a good thing Jones didn’t have a chance to shoot that 125 to 130-inch buck. After it was gone, he continued making doe bleats with the can. A forkhorn eventually stood up from tall grass in the field, and after a couple more calls, the big one stood up nearby.
“The buck was staring at me, but he couldn’t tell what I was because of the bush I was next to,” Tim commented. “When he put his head down, I stood up and prepared to take a shot. When he was broadside, I aimed for his shoulder and fired. I saw him mule kick, so I was confident of making a good hit.”
The saboted 240-grain hollow point bullet from his .50 caliber Thompson/Center muzzleloader went through the buck’s heart at a distance of 135 yards. The rifle was loaded with two Pyrodex powder pellets (100 grains). A 6x Redfield scope was mounted on the rifle.
The Jones Buck had a dressed weight of 220 pounds and was estimated to be 5 ½ years old.
“After I weighed the deer, I couldn’t help wondering what he would have weighed in September,” Tim commented.
The deer most certainly would have weighed over 300 pounds during early fall. A rule of thumb for determining a whitetail’s live weight from its dressed weight is to divide the dressed weight by four and add that number to the dressed weight. That would give the Jones Buck a live weight of 275 pounds during December. And adult bucks can lose as much as 25 percent of their body weight during the rut.
So the buck could have weighed as much as 330 pounds in September or early October.
Tim has had some of the antlers measured from deer he took during previous years after entering the Boone and Crockett qualifier in state records. Three of them also qualify for state records. Another muzzleloader buck scored 131 2/8, a shotgun kill measured 126 5/8 and a bow kill tallied 111 2/8.