April 01, 2013

Although a big 11-pointer Mike Hopkins from Marine City bagged in St. Clair County during the 2012 gun season isn’t the highest scoring typical-racked whitetail taken in Michigan last fall, it still qualifies as a state record. That’s because he shot the buck with a handgun. The whitetail Hopkins downed with a single shot .454 Casull barrel on a Thompson/Center Encore, beat a record that has stood for almost 20 years.

Back in 1992, Dave Bastion from Flushing dropped a 10-pointer that netted 172 1/8 in Genesee County with a Ruger .357 magnum revolver that was mounted with a 4X Tasco Scope. The buck Hopkins connected on at 5 p.m. on November 16 nets 175 1/8. The rack has an impressive typical 10-point frame, with a sticker point off the base of the right beam. The antlers have a gross score of 188.

Hopkins’ .454 handgun was mounted with a 4X Thompson/Center Scope. The bullet that brought down the record buck was a Hornady 240 grain hollow point.

In response to a question about why he hunts deer with a handgun Hopkins said, “Most of my shots are within 100 yards. The gun I use is very accurate and powerful at that distance.”

Mike said he has taken five other deer with his handgun. They were two does and bucks with 8, 10 and 11-point racks. Although he hasn’t had the antlers from his other bucks measured, he guessed that the biggest ones would score in the 120s to 130.

“I saw the state record buck once during bow season,” Hopkins said. “He was 150 yards away. All I could see was the white rack above the red brush. My boy was hunting with me that day and the buck was heading right for him, but he never saw it because it was in thick brush behind him.”

The next time he saw the buck was at 5 p.m. on November 16.

“Before the big buck showed up, I had a spikehorn feeding behind me about 60 yards away for about 45 minutes,” Mike explained. “There were a 4-point and 6-point in front of me, with two big does beyond them. I wanted meat for the freezer and I was debating about what deer to take. I was thinking about shooting one of the does.”

“I kept checking on the spikehorn behind me. When I looked toward the spike the big buck was already there, walking past him. From the time I saw him until I shot, I had about 10 seconds.”

Mike Hopkins of Marine City took this impressive typical 10-point frame, with a sticker point that is the new state record buck taken with a handgun.

“I was hunting from a Texas Hunter Blind that was 19 feet from the ground. I got the gun on my bipod, got the buck in the scope and fired. The buck was angling away when I shot. Both bucks immediately disappeared in nearby cattails.”

The bigger buck was five yards closer than the spikehorn and Mike was focused on the trophy deer, but after they were out of sight, he questioned whether he had shot the right one. Fortunately, he had. The record buck only made it four feet into the cattails before expiring. Mike said that’s the furthest any of the deer have gone that he shot with the .454 Casull.

Hopkins said another hunter he knows who hunts a large tract of

land nearby had trail camera photos

of the buck during 2011 and 2012.

The buck only had 9-point antlers

during 2011.

The buck was 4 ½ years old and had a dressed weight of 172 pounds. Hopkins has been deer hunting for 27 years. He started at the age of 21.

The author is presently working on Book 6 of of Great Michigan Deer Tales, a new collection of stories about the biggest bucks bagged in the state. You can save by ordering at the prepublication price of $11 for the new book will be in effect until August 15. Regularly $16.50 after that date. Orders can be placed through the author’s web site (www.richardpsmith.com) or payment can be sent to 814 Clark St., Marquette, MI 49855.