May 07, 2021
In early March 2020, I was fortunate enough to be granted access to a piece of land in Montana to look for sheds. That day my friend and I picked up a set of sheds that would score over 170 inches, and we were floored. We couldn’t wait to find the owner of them during the next hunting season. After a couple of conversations with the landowner, I was granted access to pursue the amazing and mysterious western whitetail.
The first time I laid eyes on the giant buck was during late summer. Remarkably, the buck was standing literally right where his sheds were found that spring before. And that’s when my questions about how much bigger the buck would be were answered! He sported a giant set of non-typical antlers with points going everywhere. Instantly, I knew he was the buck of a lifetime.
By the time the season rolled around, I had no trouble locating the giant buck. In fact, I saw him every single day! Better yet, I saw him in the daylight hours, and I got to watch him for two weeks. But the buck used the vast open country to dodge every move that I made. He fed his way into the darkness each night as I sat hopelessly watching him.
Sometimes the wind direction was wrong, and sometimes there wasn’t enough cover to conceal my movements. Due to the terrain, my options were very limited, and I had little chance of getting within bow range of the buck. So I had to be careful. All the time. After many unsuccessful hunts in which I spotted and spooked the deer, I figured my chances were up.
So as a last-ditch effort, I set up a ground blind made my way in early one afternoon. Just before dark, the buck made his b-line right to the alfalfa field nearby. I could tell from the angle the buck was approaching that he would bypass me out of range. I knew I had to make a move, and I couldn’t let him go again. I didn’t know if it was going to work, but I was ready to get aggressive and go after the giant buck on foot.
When I crawled out of the blind and I crossed under the fence, I felt exposed in the alfalfa, but I decided it would have to suffice. Out into the field, I went, maintaining a low profile and steady speed. Not only was I trying to keep from spooking the giant non-typical, but also there were other deer everywhere in the area. It was tough going there for a while.
Finally, I got to a spot where I was able to peek through the alfalfa stems and get a range on the buck. It was finally my chance to take a shot. I rolled over on my back, came to full draw, and sat up cross-legged to take aim. The buck’s head remained lowered as he continued to feed. I settled my pin and released.
As I watched my arrow find its way home, I was in awe. Feelings of shock, excitement, and relief rolled in all at once. I had worked so hard for that moment, and it felt amazing for it all to finally pay off.
After final scoring, the buck is now officially the fourth largest non-typical ever taken in Montana with a bow. He officially scores 200 5/8 gross, and he nets 195.
For the full story of Tyler's hunt, be sure to purchase the upcoming June issue of North American Whitetail Magazine. Within the June issue, you'll find this buck's featured article, further details of the hunt, and more wonderful photography.