January 17, 2024
Art Uyselt was ready for a break. He had hunted every day for 28 days straight. His sits had mostly been dark to dark, and right now there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. So far, the wide-antlered, drop-tined buck he was hunting had proven more than a capable opponent. He was making the trek into and out of his ground blind twice daily, walking a half-mile in each direction through knee-deep snow and ice. The weather was frightful with several near-blizzard days. It seemed like when it wasn’t blowing snow, it was raining sleet. The weather was beginning to take its toll on Art.
Worn out and hungry, Art decided to leave his blind and head home late morning for some much-needed nutrition. On his way out, he stopped and checked a couple of trail cameras. To his surprise, the drop-tined buck was captured by one of the cameras while it was following a doe. The buck seemed to be staying in the area, and if the doe was coming into heat, the buck should stick around for a while longer.
Art immediately decided he would quickly run home to eat and then head back to the blind. So much for getting some rest, he thought. After filling his belly with a hot meal, Art sat on the couch and unexpectedly drifted into a deep sleep. He didn’t wake up until 3:30 that afternoon! Art’s inadvertent four-hour nap may have been what his body needed, but it was the last thing he wanted to happen with the giant buck nearby.
DEALING WITH PRESSURE
A significant challenge for the Beloit, Ohio, resident was that he only had 20 acres to hunt, and he wasn’t the only person using the area or even the only hunter on the small acreage. “I retired from construction after 30 years, and I became good friends with Jim, the foreman of the company. He kept telling me about all the big bucks he was seeing on his property. Finally, I had to check it out, and I wasn’t disappointed in the least. I first started hunting this property out of curiosity, and after spending a season there and seeing its potential, I’ve never turned back,” Art explains.
Twenty acres sounds like little hunting room, but that becomes even smaller, considering Art had only five acres he was hunting. “The front of this area is an open horse pasture, the backside has 150-year-old white oak and beech trees that have never been cut, and the rest was surrounded by corn or beans. One property over there is 62 acres of a 15-year-old clear-cut that is now almost impenetrable, because of all the vines and briers growing in there. According to my cameras, the buck was using this clear-cut for bedding and sanctuary.”
Art first became aware of the buck during the 2020 season. Art had consistently gotten photos of the buck since it first appeared on one of his trail cameras. “I had two encounters with the buck in 2020. I had set my ground blind in a spot Jim suggested. It was my first year hunting here, so I appreciated the tip. A few days later, I saw the buck in person for the first time. He walked by my ground blind at 15 yards, but I couldn’t get a shot off. When I saw the buck again, he was within 30 yards but screened by brush, so I was unable to take a shot. However, I did take confidence knowing I was in the right spot,” Art says.
He didn’t see the buck in person during the 2021 season. However, the buck was consistently passing by Art’s trail cameras. “The couple of trail camera pictures I got of him in 2021 were all taken long after dark. It seemed as if his antlers were smaller this year. He was maybe a 170-inch deer,” Art recalls. It wasn’t until 2022 that things began to fall into place for Art. “On November 18th, as I was walking out of the area, I happened to spot a doe coming my way, so I stepped behind a tree and hid myself. As she approached, I could see a buck behind her that was hanging back in the brush. When the doe got within 30 yards, she winded me and bolted. Once the buck saw that happen, he never left the brush and eventually walked out of sight. This is when I realized just how big he had grown; my heart fell out of my chest,” Art remembers.
“I process deer on the side, so obviously I’m busy this time of the year,” Art says. “So I texted everyone on our list saying, ‘Leave me alone; I’m on a deer!’” It was time to dedicate all the time and resources he had toward finding and killing this giant buck.
Having only 20 acres to hunt would turn most people away, but as mentioned earlier, those 20 acres were being shared with other people. “I almost quit hunting the property, because all of a sudden, there seemed to be people everywhere,” Art says. “Another hunter showed up to the north of me. There was a group of kids who were riding ATV’s that set up a couple of stands. Then somebody with a chainsaw went into the wetlands right alongside of the clear-cut, which is the buck’s sanctuary, and put up a stand. I ended up with people all around me. That was the reason I moved to the end of the pine trees, where I could have the five acres to myself and hopefully the other hunters would move something by me.”
A WAKE-UP CALL
Waking up with a jolt, Art looked at the clock and sprung into action. He quickly dressed and grabbed his Scent Blocker clothing; he once again headed into the cold, wintery Ohio weather to his hunting blind. Parking in Jim’s yard, Art grabbed his gear and began walking to the east. Butting up to the horse pasture is a big pine thicket, the one where Art shifted his ground blind to. There was a clover field to the north and a clear-cut wetland to the south. Art had a feeling that if the buck was around, the commotion from the other hunters in the area might push the buck into the pine thicket.
“I had moved my blind that morning, and that may have been my smartest move during all of this. I set the ground blind up 100 yards from the pines. I now had beans to my right and clover to my left. More importantly, I had also distanced myself as far as I could from the other hunters in the area,” Art explains. Arriving at his blind at 4:15 p.m., Art thought he had messed things up with the nap, and his chances of seeing the buck were slim to none. However, it wasn’t long before the first deer of the evening sauntered into the open. It was the same doe from that morning’s trail camera pictures; the same doe the buck was seen following!
“I got pretty excited when I saw her, because I thought for sure the buck would be close behind,” Art says. The doe went straight toward the bean field to the right of Art. Just 30 seconds later, Art spotted every die-hard whitetail hunter’s dream: a monstrous whitetail buck heading his way. “When I first spotted him, it sent a shock through my system, and my heart immediately went into overdrive,” Art says.
What will race through your mind as you watch a 30-inch-wide buck with foot-long points, nearly 30-inch beams and over 40 inches of mass walk toward you in your ground blind? Art was lucky enough to experience the feeling first-hand. “When he was making his way toward me, that is a sight I will never forget. That buck certainly left an impression on me,” Art claims.
As the buck approached the ground blind, Art tried his hardest to remain calm. It wasn’t long before the buck was within 50 yards of the blind, and Art knew it was now or never. Focusing on his target and point of impact, Art slowly raised his crossbow but felt resistance while lifting it. Taking his eyes off the buck, he found that his scope had caught the window netting inside the blind. “When you are in this moment, those little things can sure cause a person to panic,” Art explains. Composing himself once again, he was able to free the scope from the screen and refocus his attention on the buck. The buck was within 40 yards by now, and Art’s moment of truth had arrived.
Picking a small spot on the buck’s shoulder, he held his aim for a few seconds, ensuring he was aligned correctly. He slowly added pressure to the trigger until the crossbow jumped in his hands, and Art watched as the bolt fl ew faithful and busted through the buck’s shoulder. The buck spun around and disappeared into the brush. “I couldn’t believe what had just happened; I finally got him! All the adrenaline and emotions I had been holding in came out, and I pretty much came unglued with excitement. I was shaking so badly I could hardly text my son. In fact, he sent a text back to me telling me I had to calm down, because he couldn’t understand my message,” Art laughs.
Art gave the buck some time, allowing his son and friends to show up. “Once we started following the buck, the blood trail was weak. This added some anxiety to my excitement, and I began to question the hit,” Art says. The group had not gone far inside the brush before someone said they could smell the buck. Just 25 yards ahead was the buck of Art Uyselt’s dreams. “Everyone there was freaking out. All my friends knew the time and effort I put in for this deer, and they were just as happy and excited for the moment as I was. Another thing I will never forget about all of this is my family and friends sharing that moment with me.”
Art knew the buck was big, but that perspective changed once he touched the deer. “He was much bigger than I had thought,” Art says. “The mass is crazy, he’s wide and tall. Taking this deer also fulfilled a dream of mine to take a drop-tine buck, and this one has three of them!”
The buck is nothing short of spectacular. The “wow” factor on this deer is remarkable. With an outside spread of 29 6/8 inches, the inside spread credit sits officially at 26 3/8. The antlers also carry nearly 41 inches of mass. The rack is tall, wide and heavy; once you add in the three drop tines, you have a buck with a total gross score of 210 4/8 inches and a net Boone & Crockett score of 199 7/8 inches.
When a hunter sets out after a world-class whitetail, they never know what obstacles they may encounter. Most hunters would likely head for greener pastures if our hunting was limited to a five-acre parcel of land. However, Art Uyselt proved that those small and challenging parcels can hold the buck of our dreams, but you have to prepare for the worst. As Art says, “There is nothing fun about hunting a big buck!”