March 26, 2021
By Shawn Clark
I reside in western Pennsylvania, so I’ve often searched for places to hunt mature bucks outside of my hometown. I began hunting Ohio as an out-of-state license holder back in 2009. After reading multiple magazine articles, I was led to Adams County, Ohio, a well-known national hotspot for trophy whitetail hunting. There I met a man named Rick Crawford, owner of Crawford Farms. I got to know Rick very well, and I hunted on his 1,200-acre farm, on which he offers unguided whitetail hunting opportunities.
I’ve been hunting the Crawford’s land for the last 15 years. Over that time, I’ve been blessed to harvest multiple mature bucks. Because of the great success I experienced with Crawford’s, the idea of finding another Ohio lease began to intrigue me.
Ultimately, I lucked into finding a new Adams Co. hunting lease in 2014. Although much smaller than the Crawford’s farm, the new lease offered me a great piece of hardwoods to hunt. I could tell the property had what it takes to produce trophy whitetails.
I immediately began running trail cameras and mineral sites around the lease, and soon I found some quality bucks. During the next few years, I harvested a handful of mature bucks, the largest being a 160-inch 12-pointer.
When 2020 rolled around, logging operations were underway on all sides of the small, wooded lease. Despite the disturbance, I still managed to get trail camera pictures of several bucks — the biggest one being in the 150-inch range. Going into the 2020 bow season, I wasn’t aware that a mega-giant non-typical buck was in the area, much less on the property.
I've always said, “If I could hunt only one day a year it would be November 8.” So, my buddy Josh, my father and I headed to Ohio to hunt the lease on Nov. 7, 2020. Figuring it would be prime time to catch some rutting activity, we planned on staying in Ohio through Nov. 12.
On day one of the trip, we all spotted a few young bucks and had good hunts. But on day two, the morning of Nov. 8, the action really heated up. We spotted seven different bucks — all of them chasing one doe. The sight of this hot doe shot our expectations to a new high! The rut clearly was on.
Around 5:00 p.m., I heard something move to my left. At first I dismissed the noise as a squirrel, but then the noise got closer and louder. When I turned my head to investigate the sound, I saw it was just a spike buck. Moments later, I heard another deer walking in my direction. That's when I raised my binoculars and spotted a giant buck!
Without hesitation, I quickly and quietly grabbed my bow off the hanger. As soon as I got my release attached to my string, I looked out to find the buck had already closed the distance to 35 yards. And he was walking straight at me. Incredibly, the buck was a massive non-typical I’d never seen before.
Thankfully, on the way in that morning, I had placed Conquest scent in two scrape locations. The buck walked straight toward the closest scrape. When he stepped into the scrape, he smelled the scent, turned broadside and began scraping the ground with his powerful hooves, all while throwing his antlers into the branches above.
I had pre-ranged the scrape at 27 yards, so when I drew my bow and settled my pin, I knew I was on target. But as the arrow made impact, I immediately was worried that the shot was high.
He flipped over backwards and fell away into a deep ravine below. All I could hear was his beams striking the foliage as he tumbled. I cautiously lowered my bow and quietly, but quickly, moved to the edge of the ravine. As I suspected, it was a high hit. I quickly followed up with a second shot, and my arrow connected perfectly.
Sitting on the bank alone, I couldn’t stop shaking. In a strange feeling of shock and disbelief, I stared at a buck that I knew would measure well over 200 inches! It took me some time to gather myself and give the guys who were with me a call to come help.
As I was awaiting their arrival, I began counting the points. In disbelief, I wondered where this giant buck had come from. I couldn’t believe that this blessing of a hunt really had just happened to me.
With 26 scorable points, the buck’s official Boone & Crockett score tallies up to 248 3/8 gross and 239 7/8 net. He’s the kind of buck people say comes once in a lifetime, and I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to take him.
Stay tuned for more details about my archery hunt for this outstanding Adams Co., Ohio, non-typical in a future issue of North American Whitetail magazine. There you’ll find a more in-depth recount of the hunt, complete scoring information and more photos of the buck. Don’t miss it!