As we all know, if you want to kill a giant buck, you have to hunt where giant bucks live. And history tells us that Suffolk County, New York, is one of those places where big bucks live. You want proof? Look at the record books and you will find that nearly half of the top gross-scoring bow bucks in New York come from this county. And more specifically, from Long Island itself.
One of New York’s largest non-typicals ever was killed there in 2009, when Bjorn Holubar arrowed a huge 211 2/8-inch 20-point gross non-typical. Then just one year later, a 195 4/8-inch 21-point giant was arrowed on Long Island by Pete Cuervo. But setting a state record was the last thing on the mind of Mike Giarraputo last November as he was bowhunting this densely populated area.
After a slow morning of hunting that produced nothing and a midday sighting of a 6-point, Mike decided to move to another treestand to try his luck where the wind would be a bit more favorable for the afternoon. But in the next few minutes, before he could make that move happen, Mike made New York bowhunting history, and continued Long Island’s incredible and impressive run as this state’s best source of monster bow bucks!
Forty-six-year-old Michael Giarraputo is an experienced deer hunter. While he has hunted other prime deer-hunting destinations like Virginia, Saskatchewan and the Midwest, the majority of his 30 years of deer hunting experience has been in his home state of New York. And most of that experience was as a gun hunter, until about a dozen years ago, when a close friend began consistently taking some nice deer with a bow.
Mike noticed that many good bucks on Long Island were taken during the bow season, which runs for three months prior to firearms season, so it was a no-brainer decision for him. It was time to become a proficient bowhunter! That decision 12 years ago put him on a path to begin consistently taking more deer. In fact, the first year he bowhunted, he shot six deer! He was hooked.
As Mike continued to improve and evolve as a deer hunter, he began shooting bucks more consistently on Long Island, but most of them were young bucks. As his experience continued to build, he took some great bucks in other states and provinces. Heading into the 2011 season Mike’s trophy wall included several bucks he had taken between 130-150 gross Pope and Young inches. But more important than any of his own trophies, Mike is proudest of the deer his children have taken. His 17-year-old son has taken a 136-inch muzzleloader buck in Virginia and a few nice bucks in New York. His 14-year-old daughter has taken a 6-point muzzleloader buck from Virginia and several does. They have become quite a hunting family!
Despite the family success, hunting big bucks on Long Island had proven to be a challenge, with its dense population and small pockets of huntable land. Mike found himself concentrating on small private-land woodlots in urban areas, where no gun hunting was allowed. Mike believed most of the big bucks would find sanctuary in these areas, and would be more likely to reach their prime. One such property is the “stage” for our story. Mike hunted this particular property for about five years, and it was one of his favorites. He found a big set of sheds in 2010, so he knew this was a good area holding some decent-sized trophy bucks. That would turn out to be quite an understatement!
Five Minutes From Nothing
It was late October before Mike made his first appearance of 2011 in a treestand in this particular woodlot. He likes to stay on stand all day whenever possible, so he does not risk pressuring these bucks out of the small pocket of woods. October 31 was one of those days, but all Mike saw was five does, with no sign of any bucks. A few days later, on November 3, the wind was right to hunt this stand again, and Mike was back in his tree prior to daylight. He had a sandwich and some water and was prepared for an all-day sit with temperatures expected to reach into the mid-50s.
Despite the wind being right and the rut well underway, this day started out slowly. In fact Mike did not see his first deer until nearly 1 p.m., when he saw a 6-pointer checking scrapes. That picked up Mike’s spirits heading into the afternoon, but by 2 p.m. the wind shifted a little and was not quite right for this stand. He decided he would get down and move to another tree. But for some reason he hesitated, and decided to wait until 2:15 to move. That turned out to literally be the decision of a lifetime, because at 2:10 Mike caught a glimpse of something mind-boggling.
Behind him at about 25 yards, a giant buck had “appeared” and was busy smelling Mike’s back trail. Mike could tell the rack was huge but tried not to pay any more attention to the size of the rack. The monster did not seem particularly alarmed, but he stayed still and smelled everything in the area for a few minutes. But you could tell that this monster buck didn’t get that big by being stupid—the buck knew that someone had been there and was busy trying to determine if the danger was still in the area.
Unfortunately for Mike, while the buck was within bow range, he was behind the tree and Mike would need to turn around. Worse yet, as the day warmed up, Mike had taken off his hunting jacket and hung it on a bow hook, and it was directly in the way! As the massive buck began slowly walking towards him, Mike removed the jacket from the hook and carefully put it on the base of the Lone Wolf stand. He got in position for a shot and was getting ready when suddenly a nice 8-pointer came walking in right towards the big buck! The 8-pointer got the attention of the big buck quickly, and the dominant buck gave three aggressive snort wheezes!
As this was unfolding, the 8-pointer gave Mike a perfect broadside shot. It was tempting, but with the monster buck so close, Mike waited to see how things would unfold. Just then, the big buck moved to the left side of tree. There were very few shooting lanes on that side, and Mike had not ranged that area. Mike found an opening, guessed the range, and tried to stop the buck with a mouth-grunt.
At first the big buck ignored him, but then he paused and Mike squeezed off a shot. It hit a bit back on the body because the deer was more forward in the opening than Mike had wanted. The monster buck went 15 feet and stopped. Mike got another arrow knocked and tried to shoot again, but he was shaking so badly he shot well over the top of the buck! Again the buck moved about 15 feet and stopped. Again Mike nervously knocked another arrow and shot, but this one hit the ground in front of the buck. Each miss got Mike more rattled!
With the buck moving away at 35 yards, a fourth shot just barely nicked the buck as it walked off. Mike tried to gather himself, shaken by this whole experience. Based on the buck’s behavior, moving only a few feet at a time and stopping, Mike assumed the first shot was a liver shot. It would be fatal, but it would take some time.
Mike stayed in the tree and tried to compose himself and remain patient. After about 30 minutes, he heard branches breaking and assumed that was the noise of the big buck going down. He didn’t want to risk pushing the buck, so he waited another hour and half before getting down. He found his arrow and only a little blood at the shot site. He followed the trail over the hill where he last saw the buck, and his heart stopped—there was the giant buck, dead just 80 yards away!
Back at home there was quite a stir as people stopped over to see the monster. After the craziness subsided, Mike and his son carefully green scored the buck and came up with 217 inches. After the 60-day drying period, Mike had the buck scored by various local scorers, and after all the scoring was done, Mike received word he had a new state-record archery non-typical!
Mike had the great buck measured and entered into Pope and Young, the New York State Big Buck Club and the Northeast Big Buck Club. The giant buck grossed 218 4/8 inches and netted 210 4/8 inches. The rack had 23 scorable points (14 right and 9 left), with a typical frame of 8 points complimented by 15 abnormal points. The typical rack grossed 170 6/8, and the total abnormal growth added a whopping 47 6/8 inches. The inside spread was amazing at 24 2/8 inches, and the main beams were equally amazing at 29 6/8 and 32 5/8, respectively. Rarely do we see a frame like this! The rack’s mass was impressive as well, with bases of 5 2/8 and 4 7/8.
The previous official No. 1 gross-scoring archery non-typical, according to the Northeast Big Buck Club’s records, was Bjorn Holubar’s 2009 Long Island 20-Point with a gross score of 211 2/8 and a net score of 202 5/8. This buck now stands at No. 2. The NBBC records show that five of the top 10 gross-scoring archery non-typicals from this state come from Suffolk County!
With its varied and diverse habitat, New York can produce monster bucks from farm country out west to the mountains of the Adirondacks. And in recent years, it appears the densely populated areas within driving distance of New York City hold some of the state’s best bow bucks. Pete Cuervo and Bjorn Holubar had proven that recently, but Mike Giarraputo could not possibly have known that a decision to wait a few more minutes in his treestand would produce yet another state-record archery buck from Long Island!
For more information about the Northeast Big Buck Club and the Northeast Outdoors Foundation, visit their Web site or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can write to NBBC, 390 Marshall Street, Paxton, MA 01612. Their latest record book—Northeast Trophy Whitetails VI—has more than 10,000 of the Northeast’s best bucks and is still available for purchase.