Patrick Conklin had a rifle deer season opener that he will never forget and probably never best.
Patrick leases an old horse farm in Washtenaw County. On November 15, he decided to hunt a stand where his son had seen a rather nice 10-pointer. This stand can only be hunted with an east wind.
Before first light, just past 6:30 a.m., from his tree stand, Patrick thought he saw a cow! He could see the huge outline of the body but couldn’t make out the rack with little light.
After watching it intently for over 10 minutes, it finally took a few steps and stopped for a while. Minutes later, it took a few more steps and looked around. Patrick could now see the buck’s antlers as it was legal shooting time.
The buck took a few more steps, and finally, he entered an opening. Knowing this was a good buck, Patrick figured this was the big 10-pointer his son had seen and took the shot.
Patrick waited until 9 a.m., and finally got down from his stand to look for blood. A short distance away, Patrick could see his buck and stickers on its big rack and realized it wasn’t a big 10-pointer his son had spoken of; it was a much bigger buck!
Patrick said, “My legs turned to ‘jello,’ and I had difficulty standing. Buck fever had kicked in, and I was shocked about what I had just harvested. I had no idea how big this buck was!”
Patrick called his wife to tell her and asked her to come and enjoy this moment. The biggest moment in Patrick’s hunting career!
Patrick had never hunted this blind before that day and only did it based on the wind and what his son had told him about the big 10-pointer. However, Patrick saw this buck back in 2019 and thought he’d score in the 140s.
His giant buck had 22-scoreable points; it green scored 203 1/8 inches, and its dressed weight was 188 pounds. It was estimated that this buck is 6 1/2 years old.
This buck was well-known in the area. The local hunters had nicknamed this buck the Bridgewater Beast after Bridgewater Township near Manchester in Washtenaw County.
We do have 200-inch bucks in Michigan. This year I am seeing bigger bucks and more of them than in previous years. Hopefully, this trend will continue in the future for Michigan deer hunters.
The author is Jeff Pendergraff, a retired Captain from the Michigan DNR Law Enforcement Division.