Having served as a certified Boone & Crockett measurer for the last seven years, I've been privileged to score many big whitetail bucks from West Virginia west to Nebraska. In most cases, these trophies and their stories have been interesting and unique. But last October, I received word of a deer, and a story, a cut above the norm.
It began with a call from a local game warden in northeast Oklahoma. He told me I needed to see what he called a "picture perfect" buck. He then forwarded a photo of a teenaged girl and a magnificent whitetail featuring a drop tine.
As we were discussing the photo, a second call came through. Another friend told me to check out Facebook and see this monster of a buck some girl had just shot in MacIntosh County, south of Tulsa. Thus began my involvement with a great buck and a young hunter named Micalah Millard.
Oct. 18, 2015, began with my viewing numerous photos of this buck on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As any other interested whitetail hunter might do, I began to make calls. I wanted to locate the family, in hopes of being allowed to score the buck and hear the story from start to finish.
I called my game warden friend again that day and got some information that I might start with at the local Bass Pro Shops outlet in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I spoke with a friend of a friend who knew of the buck, and he gave me the contact info for her father, Malachi Millard. I called Malachi, and we set up a meeting for the next week to "green" score this monster buck.
As I was driving to Skiatook to meet with Micalah and her dad, I had all kinds of thoughts about what I'd be asking them. Of course, there would be the usual: where, when, how and such. But what stuck in my mind was that this young lady was already a celebrity in the minds of many. In fact, upon reaching the Millard home, I told Micalah she'd become the Taylor Swift of the hunting world in just one week.
As always, though, the buck was the true star of the story.
OCT. 16, 2015
Micalah and Malachi always hunt on her granddad Daden's ranch in MacIntosh County, about an hour south of their home. On this particular hunt they'd have help from Malachi's best friend Chip Johnson, who'd prove instrumental in the story.
The annual youth season began on Friday, Oct. 16. When the hunters arrived that day, they set up game cameras and checked deer stands and ladder stands scattered across the property. They hoped Micalah would be able to at least shoot a buck before the general rifle season opened in November.
The first outing on Friday afternoon gave Micalah a glimpse of a decent buck, but she passed. Saturday morning wasn't very eventful either. They did see a decent 8-pointer from the stand and then jumped a 7-pointer on the way back to the cabin, but the young hunter continued to pass, hoping for something bigger.
When Micalah and her dad got to the cabin, Malachi and Chip decided to go pull some camera cards and see what had been there the day before. Micalah stayed at the cabin with their dog and took a break. When the men got back from pulling the cards, they went to the kitchen table to check the images.
"Oh my gosh!" Malachi shouted. "Oh my gosh!"
Micalah had no idea what was happening. "What are you looking at?" she asked. But soon she realized the source of her dad's excitement. A tremendous buck they'd never seen occupied the last three photos on the SD card.
Malachi yelled at Chip to get ready to reset a two-man ladder stand for the afternoon hunt. Around 2:00 p.m. the men headed out to pull another old ladder stand that was missing the lower section; then they took it to the opening where the huge buck had traveled early that morning with some does. After trimming a few trees and cutting down one that blocked the view of the opening, they had everything set up for Micalah to hunt.
AN AFTERNOON TO REMEMBER
At about 4:00 dad and daughter headed out and soon were settled into the stand. Micalah had her .243 Win. rifle and of course was hoping the buck would come back through the opening he'd traveled that morning.
About 4:35, they spotted a doe and fawn come out into the opening and head toward the stand. They got to within 25 yards but never spotted her or her dad. So everyone felt good about the stand placement.
Then Micalah heard a strange noise back behind her on the left side. Malachi hit his grunt call. That's when they spotted four does come out from the same direction in which the single doe and fawn had appeared earlier. This happened about 6:15: prime time.
Sure enough, the giant buck came out directly behind the stand, where Chip had cut down the tree earlier that day. Malachi saw the buck first and tapped Micalah that he was in the field on their left. The buck was so close at this time they couldn't move until he walked toward the does and behind a clump of bushes and trees.
That allowed Micalah to get her rifle set.
"Shoot . . . shoot . . . shoot!" Malachi urgently whispered. Then, "No, don't shoot . . . don't shoot!"
The buck kept walking across the field at a steady pace. Micalah didn't want to shoot until he'd stopped, so she waited patiently until that instant. Her dad had wanted her to shoot earlier, but now they were watching the giant walk away!
Micalah waited just a few more seconds to gather herself. Then she took the safety off, aimed and fired at the buck, which now was about 125 yards away.
Immediately it was obvious the deer was hit hard in the rib cage, as he ran in a circle. Micalah fired again, striking the deer in the neck. At that, he went straight down for good.
After watching the motionless buck for five minutes, father and daughter could wait no longer. As they approached the deer, Micalah saw him lying on his side with the drop tine clearly visible. The hunters gave each other a huge hug in celebration.
It now was 6:35. Dad and daughter headed back to camp to give Chip an in-person view of the buck that had previously only been seen by them on the computer screen. While taking field photos, they marveled that a whitetail of this caliber really had been living on the ranch.
Eenjoying the Ride
Micalah has hunted deer with her dad since she was 6 years old, and she took her first buck two years after starting. She's now taken five bucks total, and at age 14 she's made history with the deer of a lifetime.
During my interview with Micalah and her family, it was easy to feel that this girl is special and deserving of such a trophy. Even as a freshman, she was an honor student at Skiatook High School, wakeboard champion on Lake Skiatook, played boys lacrosse, was a welterweight boxer . . . and had taken a 16-point buck officially scoring 179 7/8 net B&C inches. Not too bad for a 14-year-old!
The Millard buck is now the No. 4 typical ever taken in Oklahoma, according to B&C and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Cy Curtis record book. He's also the biggest typical whitetail ever killed by a woman in the Sooner State. And by nearly 17 inches he's the top typical ever registered as having come from MacIntosh County.
Micalah's tremendous whitetail was on public display for the first time at the three-day Backwoods Hunting and Fishing Expo in Oklahoma City last March. The mount also headlined the show's Oklahoma Whitetail Wall of Fame display.
The young hunter was on hand to tell her story and autograph photos of her picture-perfect buck for the public. Not surprisingly, plenty of folks wanted to get a look at the antlers and hear the story for themselves. For Micalah, it was all just part of having become an overnight celebrity in the hunting community.
"Everybody who knew me asked me about it," noted the hunter, who has since turned 15. "Everybody wanted to see pictures and talk about it. My dad got a lot of phone calls. I wouldn't say it was ever too much. I enjoyed talking about the buck to people who were interested."
Micalah and Malachi even appeared on a Tulsa TV station to tell the story of her trophy buck; NBC News also posted it on its Facebook page. And Micalah received numerous messages on Facebook and other social media platforms from deer hunters around the U.S. Not surprisingly, there were also some from anti-hunters.
"I got a lot of out-of-state messages just of congratulations," she told me. "There were quite a few people who would comment on the pictures: just snarky comments, basically."
Micalah now gets a kick out of Googling her first name and watching her full name pop up among the top searches.
"It's gotten to be a regular thing to Google, I guess, which is pretty exciting," she said. "I'm still finding different things that pop up. I have had a lot of stuff on Instagram. A lot of hunting pages have contacted me, basically asking me for permission to share the picture and tag me in it. Heck, it's even on Pinterest. I don't how it got on Pinterest."
After finishing the interview and totaling up the rack's measurements, I told Micalah, "This is the second-largest typical buck I've ever scored, and I've scored a thousand or so of 'em. I'm proud of you, and I'm excited to be a part of this story."
She simply smiled and said, "Thank you."