October 16, 2023
During the late summer of 2021, Ben Harvey first became aware of a shooter buck on his trail camera while he was moose hunting. Soon after bow season began, the buck quickly earned the name “Lucky,” by avoiding a couple of arrows from Ben’s bowhunting buddies. Following these encounters, the buck seemed to go strictly nocturnal.
The next year, Ben continued to get daylight trail cam pictures of the buck. Excitement increased as the photos revealed that the buck had shot up from a solid 160-class deer to a heavy, 190-class 5-year-old! With the buck showing up consistently in front of Ben’s setup, he knew right where he needed to be hunting.
However, Ben’s high anticipation was quickly shot down when new trail camera photos revealed that the buck’s right side had been busted in half. Apparently, he wasn’t the only bruiser cruising the area!
Due to the buck’s broken rack, Ben was forced to focus his attention on other bucks for the year, even passing a shot opportunity on Lucky during the last day of the season. This was tough for Ben, but he hoped that he would get another shot opportunity the following season.
As the 2023 season came closer, Ben decided to skip out on moose hunting so he could solely focus all his attention on hunting Lucky. However, Ben and his daughter, Madelyn, decided to upgrade the buck’s name to “Big Time.” Prior to opening day, Ben became consumed with meticulously patterning the habits of Big Time by placing feed and trail cams to narrow down the giant buck’s travel routes. Ben even skipped lunch breaks at work to trim branches from his stand sets, hoping to clear every possible shooting lane.
On Oct. 1, the opening day of the Ontario season, Ben received a trail cam photo of Big Time heading to bed at 5:30 a.m. Ben climbed his tree stand early that afternoon, figuring there was more than a good chance Big Time would enter the nearby food plot that evening to feed. As Ben settled in for the evening hunt, there was an external factor overshadowing him. That week, his childhood friend, Tony Doolittle, passed away. Around 6:00 p.m. clouds rolled in, the temperature dropped, and a pheasant landed on a branch right next to Ben. “It was almost as if it was a sign from Tony saying, ‘the stage is set, it’s all up to you now,’” Ben recalls.
With the sun setting, does and younger bucks began entering the field. At 7:10 p.m., Ben suddenly noticed a big buck 212 yards away on the fence line of the food plot; it was Big Time! After watching the other deer feed in the field, Big Time directed his attention toward Ben’s stand. Ben began to panic as he tried to discern what was drawing the buck’s attention. Slowly, he reached over to touch off his video camera, thinking that Big Time was seeing a light from the camera. Finally, the buck began moving again, working his way 50 yards downwind of Ben.
After sniffing the wind for scent and stopping to listen, the huge buck continued his path to the field. At just 27 yards, Big Time presented a shot. Ben released an arrow and kept his eyes glued on Big Time as he sprinted into the food plot. The deal was sealed when the buck crashed after making it just 60 yards! Ben took his shot at 7:22 p.m., the last minute of shooting light. Talk about taking it down to the wire!
The three-year journey of hunting Big Time culminated in an unbelievable moment for Ben as he held the non-typical. The Ontario giant green scores 205 3/8 inches.