July 01, 2018

The typical 12-pointer that 78-year-old Cary Shear from Ann Arbor collected with a crossbow on November 11, 2017 in Washtenaw County is still a new state record among typical crossbow kills after being panel measured by three Commemorative Bucks of Michigan scorers, but by only 1/8-of-an-inch instead of 3/8.

CBM bylaws require that all entries contending for state record status be panel measured before they can become official. The Shear buck had only been measured by Dennis Sheats from Milan when it was entered in state records with a net score of 175 5/8. The previous state record typical crossbow buck was a 10-pointer scoring 175 2/8 that was arrowed by rural Allegan County resident Trent Smith in Allegan County on October 22, 2016.

Sheats measured Cary’s crossbow buck on January 18, 2018, more than two months after the deer was killed. Antlers must air dry for a minimum of 60 days before they can be officially scored to allow for evaporation of moisture content. It was April 7 before the rack was panel measured.

It’s not unusual to have a difference in measurements between when antlers are first measured for entry into state records and panel measuring, especially if a month or more has elapsed between measurings. The more time that elapses, the greater the chances of more shrinkage. Panel scoring sessions are often more precise, too, because each member of the panel has to agree on measurements before they are recorded.

Twin brothers Gary Shear and Cary (with antlers on right). Dennis Sheats photo

So the panel came up with an official score of 175 3/8 for Cary Shear’s impressive crossbow buck. With only 2/8-of-an-inch difference between the two measuring sessions, you might assume there were only one or two minor differences in measurements, but that’s not the case. There were a number of differences, some higher and some lower, that averaged out to the small difference in the end results.

Some of the measurements also remained the same each time. The inside spread, for example, was 16 3/8 inches each time and so were most of the four circumference measurements on each antler. The length of the right beam remained the same, too, at 24 1/8 inches. Length of the brow tines were also 3 6/8 inches on the right and 3 inches on the left both times.

The left main beam, however, was 1/8-of-an-inch shorter (24 6/8 inches) than the first time it was measured. So was the second tine on the right antler (13 7/8 inches). The second point on the left antler was 2/8-of-an-inch shorter (11 2/8 inches) than when originally measured. But the fourth point on the right antler ended up being 1/8-of-an-inch longer (9 6/8 inches) and the circumference at the base of the right antler also increased by 1/8-of-an-inch.

Cary remains pleased that the buck he got last fall is still a state record. In fact, he originally had no plans to have the large antlers measured. His twin brother Gary from Manchester talked him into it.

“My brother talked me into having the antlers scored by Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM),” Cary said. “I wasn’t even going to have the deer mounted, but my brother talked me into that, too. He told me, ‘You will never see another deer like that,’ and I’m sure he’s right.”

Like so many older bowhunters, Cary hunted with a compound bow until he could no longer consistently draw his compound under hunting conditions.

“What convinced me it was time to switch from my compound to a crossbow was one day I was hunting over a mock scrape,” Cary explained. “During the time I was waiting for a deer to show up in my tree stand I got cold and started shaking. That’s when an 8-point showed up at my mock scrape. I tried to pull my bow back five times and couldn’t do it even though I had been hunting with that bow for years.”

Cary has been hunting with a crossbow about six years. During that time, he’s scored on a couple of average 10-pointers and a number of 8-points, all of which had antlers that were much smaller than the 12 he got last fall.

“I’m not a trophy hunter,” Cary said. “I hunt for the meat. But if a big buck comes along, I don’t have a problem shooting it.”

That’s exactly what happened when Shear got the 12-pointer. He was hunting a food plot from a treestand when a doe came out of the woods, walked across the food plot and entered a cornfield.

“The buck came out of the woods on the doe’s tracks and he followed her. The deer was farther than I normally shoot with my crossbow when he stopped, but he was ready to head the other way after the doe. I knew if I didn’t take that shot, I wasn’t going to get one.

“I normally don’t shoot at deer beyond 30 yards with the crossbow. I knew he wasn’t too much farther than that, so I raised the 30-yard dot a little and shot. When I shot, I asked for God’s help in making the shot count and he did. The instant I shot, I saw the big red circle behind the buck’s shoulder as he started bleeding. The arrow went through both lungs.

“I went back the next day and paced off the distance of the shot and it was 38 yards. I think that buck was lost. I had never seen him before.”