Typical Deer - Archery Record

1. Evan Lammie 183-3/8 2010

I think that any hunting group consists of equal parts fellowship and friendly ribbing. The topic of discussion may range from when, where, or how to hunt on any given day, to who is the best shot, to who would have difficulty tracking their own boots if they weren't tied on; the banter is a part of hunting that I cherish.

Another subject that can grow legs during an evening back at the farmhouse table, is everyone’s choice of weapon. On this topic, I don't malign anyone their preference. But for me, bow hunting provides me with experiences and opportunities that I would miss with any other weapon. By the sheer handicap that the stick and string provide, you are forced to allow these giant whitetails to get closer, granting a clearer perspective of the majesty of the animals. Having a truly wild and mature whitetail buck within bow range is an experience that can't be beat.

So when, on a gorgeous November morning in the 2011 season, I was once again blessed with just such an encounter I couldn't help but feel like the woods had given me another gift. Sometimes it almost doesn't seem real, but at 43 years of age my memory hasn't left me yet.

This particular story starts in December 2010. Having been fortunate to harvest a gross 182” in late October of that year, I was still looking to fill an antlerless doe tag. There was a field with winter wheat that had grabbed well, and there were a healthy number of doe and fawn groups hitting it regularly. I had arrived a bit late, and decided to sit a stand on a point that juts out into the field.

I have a hunting food plot tucked into the southeast corner of the farm, planted with three acres of clover and brassicas. Limiting the gun pressure on the lands we hunt, has allowed the deer to gravitate to the bedding areas close to us when the November and December gun seasons roll around. This year was no different, as the last three days of the hunt had shown increased numbers hitting the winter wheat field.

On December 12th, the stand near the food plots felt familiar, even though I hadn't hunted it in a while. Good stands do that, and this stand has proved trustworthy over the years. There was no movement for the first 45 minutes, but then I noticed two does and a fawn prance on to the field from the far side. They fed uninterrupted for 10 minutes or so. I kept my eyes on them while I watched other deer in the field. Scanning with my binoculars, I noticed that the group had moved further out into the field, all on high alert, and faced the timber ridge they had come from. Tails flickered and twitched nervously. Their heads bobbed continuously, until these matriarchs could figure out what was making all the noise. Then, blasting out of the bush like it was on rails was the largest antlered deer I had ever seen. He actually looked top heavy, and his body seemed small, but it could very well have just been the sheer size of his rack that made him appear so out of proportion.

Six hundred yards away I could tell this buck was world class, and the optics didn't say anything different. A massive 6x6 frame with 12-13” G2's and G3's, 10” G4's and decent G5's had me thinking this animal could push the Ontario record. It was incredible! Just to witness this creature in daylight hours was a blessing. There were no trail camera pictures and no previous sightings of this buck.

The guys were excited that there was another monster running around, but that didn't mean any of us would ever see him again. The rest of the season yielded a few more does for the freezer and the landowners, but only one more sighting of the giant 6x6. Climbing out of my stand approximately a kilometre from where I had last seen him I once again got a look at this freak of nature. Unfortunately, it was after legal shooting time. Shed season didn't offer any other clues so we just waited patiently for summer scouting and the next season.

I spend a lot of time scouting soybean fields during the rising moons in July and August, which offer great opportunities to see mature bucks on their feet in daylight. The summer of 2011 proved difficult, as there was only one major soybean field in the entire concession around the farms we were hunting. At that point, I really had no clue whether this buck or any other mature bucks were in the vicinity. My hopes lay with the quality of the numerous resident doe groups, and their ability to eventually attract some visitors.

On November 16th, I was able to slip out for an evening hunt. The weather and wind was right for the “Buck Stand”, affectionately named as the perch from which I had harvested my split G2 182” gross patriarch from the year previous. With numerous buck sightings from this stand, it seemed like a great choice. As always, trying to get away from work early is a challenge, and that day was no different. My thinking was; if there were deer already up and moving at 3:30 and I busted anything as I crossed the creek, I would turn around and hunt the point stand where I had seen the big 12 point the year before. No deer blew, so I carefully tip-toed the last 100 yards to the buck stand. I didn't really get settled in until 10 minutes to 4. I immediately spotted movement to the southwest, and could see does moving. There were a group of five antlerless deer that we had seen several times move through this area, and it looked to be the same. Two fawns followed by three does were heading right to me. The last doe stopped at 40 yards to look at her back-trail, and there close behind her, was the giant 12 point. I couldn't believe that I was 50 yards from this monster. Trying to stay composed, I noticed that the two fawns had moved to within 20 yards of me. Constantly looking back to check the buck, it occurred to me that the fawns would likely cross my boot tracks. They did, and in an instant everything changed. The fawns' body language alerted the wise old brute, and both he and the does froze. The fawns angled closer to the field, and eventually took the other deer, with the big 12 in tow, right behind them. To have this deer so close and not be able to capitalize was hard to swallow. I gave a few soft grunts and a can call when he was 80 yards away, which made him turn his head in my direction, but having the real deal in front of him made his decision easy.

Ten minutes later, I heard a deer walking from a tree to my right. A lone doe was angling towards the trail in front of me, and she too was closely watching her back trail. A quick glance after hearing a single grunt had me reach for the Mathews and clip on the release. This 160 class 10 was closing fast and was definitely a shooter. The doe, however, may have caught my movement, as she skipped away just as I was drawing. The buck, sensing that she might get too far away, hopped over two dead falls and showed no signs of stopping as I bleated three times. He cut the doe off and angled her towards the field. Incredible! I just had 350” of antler within 50 yards of my stand, but couldn't get a shot off. Even still, that was the best 20 minutes I had ever enjoyed in the timber by far.

With all this action, I figured the next morning could be special, but I had to be at work first thing. A couple of text messages garnered me a few hours grace, and I was able to start at 10am. My buddies Mark and Tom were also going out that morning, and they would be hitting stands we had set out for post-rut activity. With a slow start, I figured I was wrong about the possibility of continuing the incredible action of the previous evening. At 9am Mark texted me saying he was going to climb down and head to work, which reminded me that I should do the same. As I put my phone back in my pocket, I caught movement to the southwest again.

It took me a good two minutes to see a doe feeding on some browse and moving very slowly. As I panned behind her, I saw a huge buck moving in her direction. This was a buck I did not recognize. By their movements and actions, it seemed as though he was with this doe, breeding and tending her, and eventually they moved away from me. At 80 yards they disappeared, but I had a hunch they were going to bed in a thicket that was 150 yards west of me. I quickly texted Mark, and asked if he could help me out, and “nudge” these deer. I don't like to push, preferring always to hunt them under somewhat normal conditions, but I felt that if Mark walked to another stand 250 yards west of me, upwind of these deer, they would just move softly away from him and back in my direction. Mark said he would try, and so I waited.

Ten minutes seemed a lifetime. Then I heard a grunt, and then another. Looking to the west, I saw the buck moving in my direction. It wasn't until he was at 40 yards that I realized the doe was ahead of him, angling towards the funnel covered by the buck stand. She was too far for a shot and pulling away, and I could tell the big bruiser did not like moving at this time of day. He was tentative and nervous, but his desire to breed led to his demise. He continued on the trail, which forced him into my shooting lanes. When he hit the first one, I didn't feel settled, so I let him continue on to the last one, which I had ranged earlier at 32 yards. I stopped him with a loud, “Maaahh”, and the arrow was on its way. I aimed for the top of the heart in case he dropped and loaded his legs, but he didn't drop at all. I knew he was hit hard, with his tail tucked, and his steps stuttered. I last saw him clear a small knoll at 60 yards and heard a crash. Shaking almost uncontrollably, I had to sit down. Mark called me and said he just heard a big crash in front of him. I tried to tell him what happened but it was hard to speak. When we got onto the copious blood trail I had a good feeling. Mark tapped my shoulder and said, “Do you see that?” Looking for a white belly, I completely looked past a massive left beam arching above a dead fall. There are no words to describe the feeling when we climbed over that log to see him up close and personal. The nudge worked. Green scoring over 189”, I knew this was a special deer. After the requisite 60 day drying period, the rack was panel scored by Paul Martin, Kevin Beasley and Paul Beasley at 183 3/8”, making it the new whitetail typical archery record.

I set out every season to harvest a mature buck, regardless of antler score, and don't consider myself a trophy hunter. As Gene Wensel stated in Hunting Rutting Whitetails, “A deer mounted on the wall is not a trophy, it is a treasure.” I will treasure this animal for many years, as I recall those two amazing days spent in the woods, getting up close and personal with these amazing creatures.

Now ... about that 6x6?

I would just like to thank Dennis Penuta and John Cole for rekindling my desire to hunt; Mark Harmel for the “nudge”; Tony, Josh, Rod, and Tom for sharing the woods with me even though I'm known to be a little too intense; And most importantly, my wife Kelly Ann and boys Sheldon and Ethan who are extremely patient with me while I follow my passion.

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