By Darron McDougal
Regular readers will recall the story of the 190-class non-typical Gordy Weiss shot on a cold 2017 muzzleloader hunt in Wisconsin. That feature, which appeared in the Dec.-Jan. ’19 issue, profiled a buck most of us would call the deer of a lifetime. But incredibly, just one season later Gordy doubled up on two more world-class whitetails. And one of them is substantially larger than his muzzleloader buck.
Telling this great hunter’s story properly requires divulging some basic information about his health. Gordy has been facing and continues to face some physical challenges as a result of brain cancer. Two of his challenges are declining vision and strength, rendering him unable to pull much draw weight or see his sight pins.
Hearing that, you might naturally assume Gordy’s bowhunting days are over. But his impairments weren’t enough to keep him from chasing his lifelong passion during the archery seasons in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. For this avid deer hunter, the solution was to lay down his beloved compound bow and pick up a crossbow.
“I love to shoot a bow,” Gordy says. “I prefer to shoot compound, but I had to switch to a crossbow because of my limitations.”
The Weiss family has a history of tagging big deer in Wisconsin. However, they recently acquired land to hunt across the state line in Minnesota, as well. And that’s where last season’s amazing success kicked off.
Fletcher Weiss, Gordy’s son, recalls getting trail camera photos of what appeared to be a superstar 1 1/2-year-old buck during the first year they hunted the parcel, which was in ’17.
“He was a main-framed, basket-racked 10-pointer,” Fletcher notes. “Additionally, he had six non-typical points. In 2018, we got him on camera again. He’d made a tremendous leap. We figured he was in the 150 class. He had 18 points, and everyone who encountered the buck let him walk. We knew he could become a giant if left at least one more season.”
Last year, the buck showed up on camera for the first time in early June.
“He was already huge at that point,” Fletcher says. “We could tell immediately that he was going to be the largest buck we’d ever hunted. We continued getting pictures of him all summer and into early fall. Once he shed his velvet, we all started getting excited about the upcoming season.”
Although several other impressive bucks were known to be roaming the family’s hunting properties, Gordy would focus on one only: the monster non-typical that was a trail-camera regular. The Weiss kids all agreed that, due to their father’s physical condition, he’d get the first chance at the world-class whitetail.
Amazingly, Gordy was so set on harvesting this huge buck that he passed up a 6 1/2-year-old 160-class 8-pointer a couple evenings before he encountered his target deer. Family members had estimated the non-typical would push 200 inches, so he was one every hunter would love a crack at.
Closing in on a Mega-Buck
The giant was regularly on trail camera in a clover field the Weiss family had planted behind a big soybean field.
“He was on camera there about every 3-4 days,” Fletcher notes. “That was in early September, and we sort of had him patterned. We positioned a tree stand Dad could get into. We got it all brushed in good.”
On the afternoon of Sept. 26, Gordy climbed into the setup.
“Dad was hunting alone that day,” Fletcher says. “My brother Brody was hunting on the other side of the farm.”
Gordy remembers that the afternoon started out to be fairly slow.
“There wasn’t a lot of action,” he says. “I saw maybe three does moseying around. And then, when it got down to prime time, I looked out into the food plot about 60 yards away and saw a nice buck standing there. It was a 4 1/2-year-old deer we had on camera that was around 140 inches. Right next to it, I spotted a second buck. I thought to myself, ‘That’s the one!’
“The smaller buck actually got ornery with the bigger buck and sort of chased him away,” Gordy continues. “He didn’t like to fight, apparently. He never had any broken or chipped tines during the three years we monitored him. Fortunately, that younger buck actually pushed the bigger one my way.”
Gordy tried to mouth-grunt the huge deer to a halt when it was about 35 yards out, but the buck continued on his course. The hunter then looked ahead to his next shooting lane. By the time the buck entered it at a range of about 25 yards, he’d slowed down so much Gordy didn’t even attempt to stop him. He simply took the shot.
“I shot him just in time as he was about to leave the food plot,” Gordy says. “Since I can’t see very well, I didn’t know exactly where I hit the deer. The shot felt good, and the hit sounded solid. I found the bolt when I got down, but there wasn’t much blood on it. Brody and I discussed it, and we decided to wait until the next morning to trail the buck.”
Along with Gordy’s uncertainty of his hit, the forecast showed rain would begin to fall around 8 a.m. It was a long night for the Weiss crew.
Taking up the Trail
Brody was unable to join in the recovery effort the next day, so Fletcher helped out his dad.
“We got out there immediately at daybreak the following morning so we could begin searching before the rain started falling,” Fletcher shares. “We said a prayer, then started looking. We found almost no blood between where the shot happened and the edge of the woods. As soon as we got into the woods, we lost the blood completely.”
“We thought we were in big-time trouble,” Gordy says. “We thought it was going to be a body search rather than following blood.”
Fletcher got down and dirty on his hands and knees, desperate to locate some blood to follow. Still nothing.
“I looked over at Dad and could see that he was pacing back and forth,” Fletcher recalls. “I could tell he was really worried.
“I eventually started walking a deer trail. I’d gone only five feet or so when I smelled something. I asked Dad if he could smell it. He said he could. I took another five steps and saw the buck lying dead about 50 yards in front of us. We just started going crazy.”
In all, the buck had only gone roughly 150 yards after the shot. The broadhead had taken out both lungs.
“I can’t believe how fortunate I was to be in the right spot at the right time to harvest that incredible buck,” Gordy says. “I still can’t believe how big he is.”
Once father and son had the tremendous deer home, the celebration began with family and friends. Gordy’s buck grosses 233 0/8 inches and features 25 scorable points. Based on the previous year’s live photos the Weiss family has of the deer, they believe he made roughly an 80-inch jump in ’19.
The family later learned the buck wasn’t a 3 1/2-year-old, as originally believed. Based on lab analysis of an incisor (front) tooth, his actual age was verified as 4 1/2.
Luck Across the River
Obviously, Gordy’s season had been made at this point; his single Minnesota buck tag was attached to a giant. But there was still a lot of season left across the Mississippi River in Wisconsin, so Gordy continued his season there.
It didn’t last long, either.
“On Oct. 27,” Fletcher says, “Dad shot another giant buck that grossed 185 inches. My brother and I knew the buck was hitting a pond at about 3:30 p.m. He’d done it two days in a row. Dad and I got into the stand at about 2:30 p.m., and the buck came walking in at about 4:00. We both thought he was going to pass by at about 25 yards, but he turned and came directly at us.
“He was about 10 yards away, and he looked right up at us. I whispered to Dad, ‘Shoot!’ When he tried to shoot, he hadn’t flipped the safety off. The buck took off on a trot, and I reached down and flipped the safety off for Dad.”
When the great whitetail paused at about 30 yards, Gordy touched off his second arrow of the season just as the beast started walking away. A double-lung shot quickly sealed the buck’s fate.
“I got lucky,” Gordy admits. “We got busted because I goofed up and didn’t have the safety off in the beginning. Fortunately, he stopped and gave me a second chance.”
Yet Another Trophy
As if all this crossbow success weren’t enough, Gordy finished out his year with another beautiful Wisconsin buck, this one shot during gun season. To call it a magical year for a hunter beset by numerous challenges would be an understatement.
But I don’t believe it’s just luck that’s helped Gordy rack up so many inches of antler. Not only has he continued to hunt through a trying time, he’s kept passing up deer many other hunters would shoot. As the old saying goes, you can’t kill huge bucks where they don’t exist. So while Gordy indeed “got lucky” on trophy bucks again this past season, it’s partly because he gave himself a chance by managing for them in the first place.