On December 5, 2022, deer hunter Roger Pankey got an early Christmas present. Pankey received a trail camera photo of a giant buck on his private property in southern Michigan’s Cass County. The buck was ultra-wide, carried heavy mass and was adorned with a lot of points. Roger, appropriately, nicknamed the trophy buck ‘Bullwinkle’ because of the ultra-wide spread. Bullwinkle had all the characteristics of the proverbial buck of a lifetime.
Pankey’s neighbor ended up finding both of Bullwinkle’s shed antlers from last year and confided that he had actually had a shot during the 2022 bow season but missed. Roger owns 100 acres and has, over time, developed the land, planting multiple food plots and summer grasses. The 70-year-old commented, “I’m retired from the DNR and my main duties were planting whitetail habitat and maintaining them. So, of course, I did the same with my personal property.”
Bullwinkle remained in the area and showed up on camera throughout the year in 2023. Roger said, “I am a lifetime deer hunter and have at least 30 mounts in my pole barn. Most are in the 130 (Boone and Crockett score) range, but I do have some 140s and my biggest measured 150. I went all in on Bullwinkle and decided that I was going to hunt every day until I either got him or learned that someone else had shot him.”
It turned into a very long season for the determined hunter, sometimes much to the displeasure of his wife. Pankey said, “I didn’t miss a day from October 1 until the day I shot him, December 5, 2023. Exactly, one year to the day after I first got a picture of him.”
Bullwinkle was rarely photographed during the daylight from any of Roger’s 23 trail cameras that he had located on his property. In fact, most of the time, he was photographed entering and leaving the property during the nighttime hours. On the night of December 4, Bullwinkle was seen entering the property but did not appear to leave so the anxious hunter told his wife that he thought he was going to get his chance on the fifth.
Bullwinkle was not seen during the morning hunt, but Roger dutifully went out for the evening hunt. He chose to hunt in a shanty that overlooked one of his most popular food plots. Two other hunters were on the property as well, Pankey’s son-in-law and grandson.
Shortly before 5 p.m., ten does entered the food plot and they were soon joined by an impressive 8-point. The veteran hunter would normally shoot a buck of this caliber but commented, “I didn’t shoot him because of my knowledge that Bullwinkle was still out there. The 8-pointer and several other nice bucks were pretty much bulletproof on my property, knowing that the big guy was somewhere out there. I didn’t want to foil a chance at getting him.”
Patience often is rewarded, and sure enough, Bullwinkle walked into the field giving the hunter his very first live sighting of this incredible world-class buck. Roger said, “He walked straight towards me. I waited for two to three minutes until he presented me with a clear shot at his vitals.
I shot him in the left front shoulder from 120 yards away with a 450 Bushmaster and he ran 80 yards before falling to the ground. I saw him go down in the food plot.”
Ground shrinkage is a term often used by deer hunters, referring to a deer looking smaller on the ground than he looked while standing live in front of an anxious deer hunter. In this case, the successful hunter said, “The closer I got to him, the bigger he looked. Pictures didn’t do him justice. I didn’t realize that he was as big as he was!”
Bullwinkle has 18 points and carries incredible mass throughout its massive rack. He also sports an incredible 22 4/8 inch inside spread. An unofficial green measurement tallied 192 1/8 gross Boone and Crockett points with an estimate that it will end up with a net typical score in the 180s. After 60 days, Pankey plans on having the trophy buck officially measured and entered into both Boone and Crockett as well as the Commemorative Bucks of Michigan record books.