Imagine starting off your outdoor year by shooting your first perfect "50" on the trap range. Then, a few months later, you take your first black bear: a 300-pounder. Finally on opening day of the Illinois gun season, you drop a net Boone & Crockett buck: a feat only a tiny percentage of deer hunters accomplish in a lifetime.
Most outdoorsmen would say any one of these accomplishments would make for a pretty good year. To scratch all of them off the list in a single year is monumental. And oh, by the way — did I mention that Bo Dylak, who accomplished all of this in 2014, was just 15 years old?
Bo's dad, David Dylak, introduced both his son and daughter, Addison, to trap shooting at an early age. While participating in a round of trap shooting early in 2014, Bo was thrilled to shoot his first perfect round. Little did anyone realize that milestone would set a tone for the year.
Also in 2014, Bo entered a contest in which the requirement was to write an essay on "why you want to go bear hunting." There were 140 entries competing for 13 youth hunts. Bo won one of the hunts and ended up taking a great black bear in Wisconsin.
So at this point, Bo was obviously on a roll. That made it even more difficult for him to sit in class on Friday, opening day of the first Illinois shotgun deer season.
"I was sure that by the time I got to hunt on Saturday, all the deer would be killed or gone," he says. I hope the teachers didn't schedule any tests on that Friday, as there were several students whose minds were elsewhere! When Saturday finally arrived, there was no problem getting Bo or Addison out of bed. Bo was in a ladder stand before daylight, and his dad and sister were hunting together in another stand 500-600 yards away. They all sat until almost noon, but despite their patience saw no deer.
From Meat to Monster
The Dylaks left their stands for a midday break but were headed back to the woods by mid-afternoon, with Bo's dad and sister returning to the stand they'd hunted that morning. Bo went to the "freezer stand," which was named for the large number of deer taken from there. He decided not to hunt one called the "buck" stand, because as he put it, he was just "meat hunting."
Bo was dropped off at the closer "freezer stand" and watched as his dad and sister disappeared. He sat for one hour without seeing any deer. But then, around 3:15, he noticed a doe coming out into the picked corn field. Bo picked up his Mossberg 500 20-gauge pump slug gun, intent on shooting her. But then she suddenly took off running — and he immediately noticed the large deer chasing her. Looks like a good buck, Bo told himself. I'd better shoot it.
When he found the buck in his scope he thought, I've never seen a buck this big. Don't look at the antlers — focus on the kill spot. Bo's first shot was at approximately 165 yards. At the sound of the slug gun the doe kept moving, but the buck stopped.
A Swing And A Miss
"I knew I'd missed," Bo says, "and I immediately worked the pump slug gun to get ready for another shot."
The second round struck the buck, but he didn't fall. He left the picked corn field, hit the tree line and disappeared. Bo texted his dad that he'd "just hit a monster buck." David reminded him to mentally mark the spot in which he'd last seen the deer. When reinforcements showed up, Bo started walking to the lane in the woods where he'd last seen the buck. But after going only 50 yards from the stand, he heard the neighbors shoot.
"My heart stopped," Bo says. "I thought the neighbors had shot my buck."
Shortly afterwards, the Dylaks saw the neighbors and went over to the fence to talk with them. They'd actually shot a doe.
"My first thought was, 'Why would you shoot a doe with a big buck behind her?'" Bo recalls. Then it dawned on him: The buck hadn't crossed the fence. The young hunter started moving down the fence line and quickly spotted an antler sticking up approximately 200 yards away. The buck was still alive. When Bo shot this time, his dad told him he was 50 feet off. But on the second try, the buck went down.
The Dylaks headed toward the buck. As they got close, Bo suddenly realized he was out of ammunition. He traded guns with his dad and got down on one knee to finish off the buck with a 30-yard shot.
David's gun was a 12 gauge, and being used to a 20 gauge, Bo ended up with a bloody nose! But as they walked up to the buck, that all was forgotten. All Bo could say was, "Oh, my gosh — what a buck!"
David took some pictures and sent them to Bo's mother and brother. By the time the buck was in the truck, those photos were on Facebook.
After the party had tagged and field dressed the buck, the neighbors allowed them access, so they didn't have to drag the deer far to the truck. Because Boone County is in the CWD watch area, the buck had to be registered at a check station, as opposed to via the usual telecheck system for Illinois.
Of course, as the hunters made their way to the check station, people saw the antlers sticking up from the truck bed and started to follow them. In fact, at a four-way stop, a utility boom truck was working next to the road, and the operator lowered the boom down to right above the buck for a better look!
The great whitetail — which was later verified to be free of CWD — was mounted by Jason Desormean's All Antlers Taxidermy in Milton, Wisconsin.
When you look at the rack's numbers, it's no wonder the buck stopped traffic. He has 9 4/8 inches of abnormal points and thus was measured as a typical.
The gross typical score came to 186 3/8 inches, with each main beam over 26 inches. The 6x6 typical frame has only minor side-to-side deductions and great mass, with over 38 inches of circumference measurements.No wonder Bo says, "It's the biggest buck I've ever seen." The final net typical score was 172 4/8 inches, making the all-time B&C record book.
By the way, in case you think this trophy was nothing more than "beginner's luck," it's worth noting this monster typical was the the fifth deer Bo has killed. Seems pretty obvious to me that his dad taught him well.