USA -(Ammoland.com)- Chris Fowler from Stewart County, Tennessee, has a 25-acre plot where he's taken several deer that have scored in the 130 class on Buckmasters.
He also knows there’s a monster buck on that property he's named Bullwinkle that he's seen for two or three years on the three trail cameras he has monitoring deer activity on the three deer trails crossing the property he hunts.
But he’s never been in one of his three tree stands during hunting season when Bullwinkle has come by.
Fowler had been hunting with a blackpowder rifle for more than 20 years and couldn’t wait for blackpowder season to begin on November 7, 2015. He was concerned about his Knight rifle he planned to use.
Although he’d taken the primer cap off his rifle and let the hammer down, the rifle still was loaded with two, 50-grain Pyrodex pellets, and a .45 caliber sabboted bullet from the 2014 season.
“I had meant to shoot the gun and reload it the day before the season,” Fowler explains. “However, a friend called and said he needed some help. By the time we finished the job he had, night had fallen, and I couldn’t shoot my rifle. Now I was a little concerned about the gun’s ability to fire after sitting in the house that long.”
Fowler wasn’t expecting to spot a big buck, because he'd only seen 130-140 size bucks on his trail cameras, plus Bullwinkle.
Bow season had arrived earlier, and modern rifle season hadn’t started when Fowler climbed into his stand just before daylight. He had dreamed earlier about Bullwinkle.
“As the sun came up, I was looking from my stand out into a neighboring property that once was a pasture but had been allowed to grow up in weeds,” Fowler remembers. “The neighbor bushhogged this field every now and then, so it had regular new growth. I still was concerned whether my gun would fire if I got the opportunity to take a shot.”
In the past, numerous squirrels had been cutting hickory nuts and acorns in this region. But on this particular morning, Fowler didn’t see any squirrels. All was quiet. He sat in the stand until about 7:30 a.m. and finally decided to smoke a cigarette, climb down out of his stand and go back home.
After smoking half the cigarette, he heard a noise in the leaves and thought, “At least maybe I’ll see a squirrel.”
However, as the sound of the leaves rustling drew closer, Fowler could make out the form of a doe, standing in some beech trees with leaves still on them. Fowler put out his cigarette and noticed the doe kept looking back over her shoulder.
“I thought, ‘Well, there may be another deer coming behind her.’ Then I saw a racked buck with chocolate-colored horns that I assumed only would score 130 on Buckmasters. But I decided to take him when he stepped into an opening. Once the front leg of the deer came through the opening, I aimed, squeezed the trigger and only saw gray smoke. Although I felt confident in the shot, I stayed in the stand and gave the buck a chance to bed down before trying to find him.”
About 10-minutes later, Fowler came out of the stand. Because he didn’t see the buck react to the shot, he didn’t know for certain if he’d hit the deer, since the gun had been loaded for a year.
He was concerned that moisture might have gotten to the powder, the bullet might have corroded, or something had happened inside the barrel that could have caused him to miss. He couldn’t locate any hair or blood.
“Finally, I found one drop of blood, and I started walking down the trail that I assumed the deer had run back up after taking the shot but discovered no more blood,” Fowler says. “The trail dropped off into a hollow with fairly-thick foliage. I knelt down, looked under the foliage and spotted a white belly about 30 yards from the trail.”
The foliage was so thick that Fowler only could see the buck’s body but not his rack. The deer was so small Fowler assumed that he’d shot a basket rack young buck.
“However, once I saw the deer’s antlers, I had to sit down,” Fowler remembers. “My legs were limp, I was breathing hard, and I was shaking like a leaf. I was stunned at the size of this little deer’s big rack. I’d shot does bigger than this buck that looked like one of those small Texas deer with huge antlers.” Once able to stand, Fowler walked to the house where his wife asked, “What’s the matter? You're white as a ghost and shaking like a tree in the wind.”
When Fowler could talk, he told her, “I've just shot the biggest deer I've ever seen in the woods,” but Fowler’s wife wasn’t sure whether or not to believe him.
Next Fowler got into his truck and drove back to within 30 yards of the buck that he easily drug out and loaded into the back of his truck.
“The buck’s hindquarters and rack almost didn’t touch the sides of my small truck,” Fowler says. “I figured he only weighed 120 to 130 pounds field dressed. I’d never seen this buck on the property and had no trail-camera pictures of him. That buck must have fallen out of the sky.”
The buck had been fighting and had two broken points, which deleted some inches from his score.
“This buck was the strangest I'd ever taken with the biggest rack ever on a very-small body,” Fowler reports. “I named the buck Oleo, after the name of the property I was hunting.”
- BTR Score – Buckmasters’ Composite Score – Number of Inches: 192
- Official Buckmasters’ Score: 176-4/8 (doesn’t include inside spread of main beams)
This is an excerpt from John E. Phillips newest book “Whitetail Deer and the Hunters Who Take Big Bucks”.
Click here to get more info about this deer hunting book and other deer hunting books by John E. Phillips.
About John E Phillips:
The author of almost 30 books on the outdoors, many on Amazon, Phillips is a founding member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) and an active member of the Southeastern Outdoors Press Association (SEOPA).
Phillips also is the owner of Night Hawk Publications, a marketing and publishing firm, and president of Creative Concepts, an outdoor consulting group.
Visit him on his website.