Phil Long from Brownstown bagged one of the biggest bucks known taken in the U.P. during 2017 seasons in terms of antler size, and it almost got away. If it weren’t for a hot doe on the Ontonagon County portion of the Ottawa National Forest where Long was hunting, the 17-point nontypical that had a gross score of 175 and netted 171 4/8, most likely would have gotten away.
“We’ve been hunting that same spot for many years,” Long explained. “It was originally my father’s spot. When he passed away, I started hunting there.
“The spot where I shot the buck is a little over 1.5 miles from where we park. We ride our ATV’s on the main trail for about a mile and then we walk the rest of the way. I go in when it’s dark, so I can get there before daylight, and come out after dark. Does are usually active throughout the day and you can see a buck at any time.”
Phil said he hunts from a ground blind over bait. He put out some corn and Big & J Powder as bait. On opening day of firearms season, Long said he saw a 4-pointer and a spikehorn besides does. He got the big buck about an hour before dark on November 16.
“I was hunting with a Marlin lever action rifle that I hadn’t taken any deer with previously,” Phil said. “It’s a .45/70 mounted with a 2X-7X Redfield Revolution Scope. Other lever action Marlins that I’ve hunted with don’t have safeties. The hammer is the safety on those rifles. Once the hammer is cocked, those rifles are ready to fire.
“The .45/70 has a safety besides the hammer that has to be taken off before the rifle will fire. When the buck came in behind a doe, he caught me by surprise. I cocked the hammer and when I pulled the trigger, there was a ‘click’ and nothing happened. Not realizing what was going on, I cocked the hammer a second time and there was only a click again when I tried to shoot the buck.
“The doe looked my way and the buck walked off. I was sure he was gone. The buck looked like he was headed toward my father-in-law and I was getting ready to text him that a big buck was headed his way. But the buck didn’t leave after all. He didn’t want to leave that doe.
“The buck circled me. By the time he came back in view, I knew what I had done wrong the first two times. That time I took the rifle’s safety off besides cocking the hammer. When I pulled the trigger the third time, the rifle went off and I got the buck.
“I knew the buck had a big rack, but I didn’t take the time to count the points. After I shot him, I thought to myself, ‘Please be a 10-pointer!'”
It proved to be a 10-pointer plus 7. The rack has a typical 12-point frame and five nontypical points, according to state record keeper Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM). All of the nontypical points either split off of the brow tines or are at the base of the antlers. Those nontypical points total 13 3/8 inches in length.
There are 9 points on the right antler and 8 on the left. The four longest points measure between 7 3/8 and 8 5/8 inches. The inside spread between the beams is 18 3/8 inches and both beams are 24 5/8 inches in length. The circumference of both beams at their bases is 4 2/8 inches.
The whitetail was estimated to be 4 ½ or 5 ½ years old and had a dressed weight of 183 pounds.
“I had never seen anything like that there before,” Phil said.
The best buck he killed there prior to last fall was a nice heavy 8-pointer during the late 1990s.
“My father-in-law got a couple of trail camera photos of the buck during 2016,” Phil said. “When I shot the deer, I had no idea it was one we had a photo of. We didn’t realize it was the same deer until later on.”