November 07, 2022
By Josh Honeycutt
Dustin Kisamore first learned of the big buck this past summer. A construction crew was working on the property he hunts. On Aug. 11, the deer appeared on trail cameras, too. The buck became very regular, and he spent the next six weeks preparing for the season.
Opening morning brought great conditions. The daytime high temperatures dropped significantly, sparking hope of seeing the monster buck. The morning hunt produced deer sightings all around him. Unfortunately, it ended with a doe catching his wind and ending the sit. The afternoon hunt found him set up on an oak rise in the middle of a floodplain full of tall grasses, cattails and other thick cover. A variety of acorns were everywhere.
“I was facing North with the buck’s primary bedding to my west, and the heaviest of the acorn crop just to the north-northwest,” Dustin says. “I was watching a small buck with about 10 minutes until sunset, bow already in hand. I dropped some milkweed which lazily drifted to the north. It was very calm, and the only sound was the occasional acorn hitting the ground.”
Just as the milkweed started drifting off, he caught movement in the direction it was floating. He immediately knew it was the big deer. It stood there 40 yards away, and Dustin knew he had to act quickly. The deer walked behind an oak tree, and that’s when he drew back. The deer stepped out, took a few more steps and then stopped. Dustin settled in for the 27-yard shot opportunity and released the arrow. The deer immediately took off and dashed out of sight. Dustin lost him in the thick vegetation.
“I got down and found blood quickly, but called my wife, dad and nephew. The four of us refer to ourselves as The Recovery Crew,” he says. “I backed out and waited for them to arrive. When they got there, we were unsure which way the deer had gone, so we started searching in each direction.” His father found the next blood, and the deer was dead about 40 yards beyond that. Overall, the deer didn’t make it far before falling. Dustin thanks his wife, father and nephew for being there to help with the recovery process.
“It’s the biggest buck I’ve ever even seen in the wild in 30 years of bowhunting,” Dustin says. “I’m over the moon excited about taking this once-in-a-lifetime deer, but it’s very bittersweet. My passion for bowhunting lies in the month of November. Frosty mornings, fall colors, bucks chasing, cruising, fighting — I’m already counting down the days until next fall.”
Obviously, this is a once-in-a-lifetime deer, and Dustin knows it. The buck’s tooth-wear analysis puts the deer at 5 1/2 years old. It scores 196 inches (gross non-typical), and the meat and the memories are just as big for Kisamore.
“My family’s primary source of protein comes from the deer we all harvest, and that is probably the most important aspect above all else,” Dustin says. “After taking a buck like this one, I don’t feel the need to forever pursue bigger and bigger bucks. Moving forward, in terms of buck hunting, if it’s a mature, healthy whitetail, that’s the one I’m after.”