Jason Buss Buck: 190-Inch Illinois Giant
December 30, 2013
You've often heard the saying, "Big bucks don't get that way by being stupid." Well, Illinois deer hunter Jason Buss can vouch for it.
He encountered one of those big and not-so-stupid bucks in the fall of 2011, while bowhunting 200 acres of his father-in-law's land in Logan County. Buss slowly turned his head to scan the area, and to his amazement, that slight motion resulted in his being pegged by a giant typical. The massive deer already had locked onto Buss's position in the tree; before the hunter even could get his bow in hand, the giant was gone.
Two weeks later, basically the same frustrating scenario was repeated. This time Buss was in a different stand, but the outcome was the same: The buck saw him and left in a flash. And he didn't reappear at all for the remainder of the season.
In spring 2012, Buss found a matched set of sheds from a very large typical in the general area where he'd encountered the buck in bow season. With high hopes the giant was still alive, he started the 2012 bow season determined to not repeat his mistakes of the previous year.
One of the questions frequently posed to successful trophy hunters is, "How do you kill big bucks?" The most immediate and obvious response often is, "You have to hunt where they live." This might sound like a snide remark, but it isn't. You can hunt hard all season — but if a big buck doesn't ever travel that area, you simply aren't going to kill him.
As best he could, Buss had eliminated that concern. Because of the sheds he'd found and general knowledge of the property, he was sure a big buck lived in the vicinity. At least, as far as it was possible to be sure. It was a bad year for EHD-related deer deaths in the region, and Buss had no scouting camera photos of the deer to reassure him he was still around.
In late October 2012, Buss was again bowhunting the property when he saw what looked like a good buck. Picking up his binoculars to get a closer look, he was thrilled to see huge antlers. Of course, that led to the problem of holding the binoculars steady. It rapidly became obvious that this was the giant typical Buss had encountered the year before.
The good news was the buck didn't know anyone was around. The bad news? He was 200 yards from the tree stand, more than a little out of bow range.
Buss continued to bowhunt the buck, but without luck. Then, on the evening of Nov. 15, he drove to the property to do a little looking around. Buss planned to hunt there on the first day of gun season, which would open the next morning.
The hunter pulled up to a spot where he could glass a large CRP field from an elevated vantage point. He had a tripod stand located between the CRP and a finger of timber that connected to adjacent fields.
Just before dark, Buss caught movement going across the CRP field into an adjacent timber. With his binoculars he was able to see a couple of does crossing the CRP — and they were being followed by that monster buck.
I'm not going to the tripod stand tomorrow, Buss told himself. I'm just going to set up on the ground next to the creek that borders the CRP field.
The first morning of gun season was clear, with a perfect wind blowing from the CRP field toward the creek. Buss got started a little later than he'd planned and had just got set up near a cluster of trees with the creek to his back as daylight approached.
As the hunter got settled in with his back to a big tree, he saw five does headed right toward him. He slunk as low to the ground as possible, hiding in the tall grass in front of the trees. Buss was literally lying on his stomach with a doe feeding only three yards away. Fortunately, though, none of the deer could smell him, and somehow none saw him, either. After several minutes they moved off through the CRP toward the adjacent bean field.
When the does were about 100 yards away, they suddenly became alert and started looking behind them. A small buck came out of the cover and started checking them. But he soon started acting nervous and quickly moved away from the does. What was going on?
The next thing Buss saw was a lone doe entering the bean field. Except she wasn't really alone. Following closely behind was the giant typical!
Buss watched as all of the does and the big buck fed in the bean field. The hunter had his Mossberg 500 Slugster sighted in with Winchester Supreme Elite slugs (375 grains) for 100 yards. He guessed the distance to the buck at a little over 100 yards.
At first Buss hesitated, thinking the shot was too far. But then he thought, I can make that shot. And if I don't try it, I may never see the buck again.
Still undetected by the deer, Buss took his time and set up his shooting sticks while trying to remain calm. After placing the crosshairs of his 4x32 scope on the buck's kill zone, he slowly squeezed the trigger.
"He jumped up with all four feet off the ground, then hit the ground running," Buss remembers. Within moments, the great buck and all of the other deer were out of sight.
After the shot, Buss called a friend he knew was hunting the adjacent property. He talked with him about the shot and how the buck had reacted. They decided it would be best to not go after the deer immediately. So Buss quietly left the area and met another friend, Rob Deters, who had volunteered to help him look for the buck.
At about 2:30 p.m. Buss and Rob started looking for the deer in the direction he had gone. Buss stepped off the distance and found the shot had been taken at 133 yards.
After several tense minutes with no luck finding the buck, Rob took off in another direction. Moments later Rob yelled, "I found him!"
When Buss walked up to the buck and got his first close look, he knew this was indeed a giant. After tagging the buck and taking a few minutes to let the whole scene sink in, he went to his truck and trailer and unloaded his ATV.
Once the hunter got his cape and antlers to Terry Day of Life-Like Taxidermy in Jacksonville, Illinois, the magnitude of the kill really became clear. Terry measured the antlers and came up with a gross "green" typical score approaching 200 inches. That was when Buss decided the massive rack definitely needed to be officially scored after the required 60-day drying period.
The Buss buck is a basic 10-point typical with a single 2-inch sticker. Usually when a big typical gets older he starts putting on abnormal points that reduce the net typical score. But while this buck appeared to be 5 ½ to 6 ½ years old, he was still exceptionally "clean."
The great main beams measure a perfectly matched 26 1/8 inches each, and the G-2 and G-3 tines are all over 11 inches. The most striking thing about the rack, however, is its palmation. The third circumference measurements on each side are amazing. One is 8 2/8 inches, the other 7 7/8! The exceptional mass and palmation carry all the way out on the beams, with fourth circumference measurements of 5 6/8 and 5 0/8.
My first thought, upon seeing this buck for myself, was that it looks a lot like Wisconsin's legendary James Jordan buck. That former Boone and Crockett world record from back in 1914 scores 206 1/8 net as a straight 5x5. Buss's Illinois buck had a gross typical score of 197 0/8, with a net of 190 4/8.
Any typical with a net score of 190 inches or better is in truly elite company, and that's especially true of basic 5x5s. Buss's buck is one of the most massive and high-scoring 10-pointers you'll ever see.
The hunter's decision to "try something different" and not go to his tripod stand on opening morning made the difference. "Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary," Buss notes.
Oh, by the way, his wife points out, there's another secret to his success. "He married well," she says of her husband.
Now, Buss swears he wasn't a deer hunter when they met, and that before then he didn't even realize his wife's father owned 200 acres of some of the best deer ground in North America. At least, that's his story...and he's sticking to it!