September 14, 2022
By Richard P. Smith
The often-dreaded October Lull produced one of the highest scoring bow kills taken in Michigan during 2021, according to state big game record keeper Commemorative Bucks of Michigan. On the evening of Oct. 17, Mike Every bagged his best buck ever on his farm in Ingham County. The 16-pointer with eye-popping headgear gross scores 198 6/8 and nets 193 2/8 as a non-typical.
That’s an impressive whitetail for any time of year, much less a portion of archery season when hunting success is supposed to be poor. Fortunately for him, Mike wasn’t worried about the October Lull. “I bow-hunt when I get a chance,” Mike explains. “I’m normally on a combine during harvest season, unless it’s raining. I’ve killed other bucks on the 17th before. I used to do a lot of rattling. One year I rattled in a 122-inch 8-point on Oct. 17. It was raining at the time, and the weather was bad.”
Although Mike isn’t afraid to hunt during the lull, he prefers to hunt later in season. “I normally like to hunt from Oct. 28 on, when bucks are starting to get more active, but I still like to go when I can earlier in the month, too. I jump around a lot and like to see what’s happening on different properties.”
Another part of Mike’s motivation for chasing whitetails whenever he could during 2021 comes from knowing a big buck had been spending time on his farm. Although he hadn’t seen the buck himself or captured it on his trail cameras, others who saw the buck told him about it and shared photos with Mike. “That big buck was living behind my barn part of the summer,” Mike remembers. “A neighbor was seeing him there every morning on the way to work. One day, my brother saw the buck when it was in velvet bedded in my bean field. The buck was gone by the time I went out there to try to see him. A neighbor who lives a mile away got trail camera pictures of the buck in velvet and showed them to me. It was obvious the deer was a giant.”
With plans to hunt the buck, Mike put up a pair of ladder stands with the help of a friend. One of those stand sites was on the edge of a 140- acre corn field. That’s the spot where the veteran bowhunter ended up arrowing his buck of a lifetime. Mike says that he and his buddy walked a half-mile through the cornfield to hang the stand, so they could avoid spooking deer that bed along fencerows and in a woodlot. This was the same route he used to access the stand when hunting it.
“There is normally always a scrape where we put that ladder stand,” Mike says. “This time there were two of them and there were lots of deer tracks. ‘Man, this is going to be a pretty good spot,’ I said to my buddy when we set the stand up. The stand was only 12-feet high, but I had plenty of cover. I always make sure I have plenty of cover when putting up a stand for bowhunting.”
When Mike and his friend hung the stand along the corn field, he also put a trail camera there; but Mike says the camera only worked part of the time. He got photos of a 10-point and a nice 8-pointer, but not the big one. Due to how inconsistent the camera was, Mike knew other bucks could be in the area that he hadn’t seen. Deer sign at the location was enough to convince him that it was the spot to hunt.
The Hunt Begins
When Mike started hunting the corn field stand, he put a more reliable camera there. On Oct. 16 during his second hunt in the stand, Mike saw an 8-pointer that he guessed would have scored 120 that didn’t have a clue he was nearby. Mike says he wears Scent Lok clothes when hunting to reduce the odds of being winded by deer, and he stores those clothes in an Ozonics bag between hunts. The day after seeing the 8-point, which was Oct. 17, Mike thought about moving to a different stand. Fortunately, he reconsidered and returned to the corn field.
Late in the day on Oct. 17, the monster whitetail caught Mike by surprise. The buck was within 15 yards before Mike even saw it. Mike had looked behind him at one point, and when he turned back the deer was approaching one of the scrapes. The buck hadn’t made a sound during its approach. “As soon as I saw the buck, I could tell he was a monster,” Mike remembers. “I grabbed my bow and came to full draw. I had a facemask on, and I was trying to pull it down with my thumb when the bow went off. The arrow just grazed the deer.”
Mike uses a Tru Fire Release on the string of his bow, and he has the trigger set for light pressure. He accidentally put too much pressure on the trigger when trying to pull his facemask down to reach his anchor. That had never happened before when Mike was preparing to shoot a deer. Understandably, he thought he blew his chance at the buck of a lifetime.“The buck went in the corn when he was clipped with the arrow,” Mike explains. “But he came right back out. I don’t think he knew what stung him. He was curious about what happened. He may have thought another buck poked him in the butt with an antler.”
When the buck reappeared, Mike didn’t waste any time putting another arrow on the string of his Bowtech. The whitetail was only 22 yards away, facing Mike, when he released the second arrow into the buck’s chest. The deer only ran 20 yards before bedding down. “After he laid down, I looked at him with my binoculars. And that’s when I realized it was that big buck everyone else had been seeing,” Mike says. “When I originally saw him, everything happened so fast, and it was so obvious he was a shooter that I concentrated on shooting him. I ranged him where he bedded and he was 42 yards away.”
Mike tried to get another arrow into the bedded buck to finish him off as quickly as possible, but that effort failed. The buck got up and moved, and Mike snuck out of there as quietly as possible.
The Final Chapter
After getting help, Mike returned to where he shot the buck to try to recover the whitetail. It was well after dark by then. When they didn’t find much blood, they decided to back out and return in the morning. The deer was easy to find in the daylight. The buck died along the edge of the corn field, not far from where Mike last saw it. “I didn’t even touch the deer when we found it,” Mike says. “I walked around it about five times; I had a hard time believing it was a wild deer. I couldn’t believe how big it was. I was in shock for about a week.”
Mike’s arrow went through one lung and the liver, that’s why the buck only went about 20 yards before lying down initially. Mike thinks the buck was 6 1/2 years old. The Michigan monster had a dressed weight of 183 pounds. The trail camera by the stand where Mike shot the buck captured a couple of photos of the deer a short time before Mike arrowed the buck. The rack was so big that Mike initially thought he might have tagged a state record buck. The antlers did not score as high as he thought they would due to a trio of non-typical points on the left antler.
The typical frame includes 13 points, seven on the right and six on the left. Without a matching sixth point on the left antler, the length of the sixth tine on the right side was a deduction, too. The three non-typical points on the left antler were enough to put the rack in the non-typical category, so they could be added to the score instead of deducted.
Mike says he found one of the buck’s shed antlers from 2019 that has six points on it. He has another shed with five points that he also thinks is from the same buck, and someone found a second 5-point shed that they think is from the buck he killed, too.
Although the buck did not turn out to be a state record, Mike is still thrilled about tagging such a great deer. He’s having a full-body mount done of the whitetail, and Mike says that he is confident he will never shoot another buck that big. But since the world of trophy deer hunting can be so unpredictable, you just never know!