Bob Schoenfish Buck: 245-Inch South Dakota Legend

Once the buck is officially scored, it should rank in the top 10 South Dakota whitetails of all time.

In small towns, gaining fame is as simple as killing a big buck. Around these rural areas, where deer outnumber hunters and deer tales outnumber deer, it's easy to find your 15 minutes of fame.

This season Bob Schoenfish held a coveted tag for Hutchinson County, South Dakota. The region has a hushed history of producing giant deer, but widespread EHD in 2012 devastated the herd. Bob's rifle permit was one of 20 good for an area of 814 square miles. This was truly a special opportunity.

Bob didn't think about hunting very much leading up to the season. As a fulltime farmer, he spends most of his hours around dusk and dawn doing chores. That didn't mean he was going to miss opening morning, though.


On November 21st, Bob headed to the family's cattle pasture. He arrived later than he would have liked, though it didn't take long for him to spot a good buck. Bob was torn on shooting the deer, but elected to pass.


It was a good thing he did.


This buck was only known to a couple people, including a neighboring hunter who got this photo.

The following morning Schoenfish went back to the same spot. This time he brought a friend, Ben Fischer, for an extra set of eyes. They decided to split up.

With Bob on one hill and Ben on the other, they kept a vigilant eye for movement. Shortly after sunrise, Bob spotted exactly that. It wasn't a deer, though. Instead, it was Ben furiously waving his arms. Schoenfish headed his direction, but he wasn't the one short of breath when he got there.


"This is the biggest buck I've ever seen!" Ben exclaimed. He wasn't wrong, either.

The duo watched as the droptine buck worked away from them at 350 yards. With Bob toting his single-shot .243, they knew they'd need to get closer. Nearly 30 minutes later, they saw a chance to do so when the deer ducked into a big draw. The two headed for the north end of the timber, but the buck went south. Their hunt was over.

Bob spent a lot of time that week thinking about the massive whitetail, but he never let it consume him. "I didn't lose any sleep over the buck. For me, it's not always about the antlers."


This composure would pay dividends later on.

Bob said his favorite part of this unique rack is the triple brow tines on each side.

Bob went out the following Sunday and spotted some deer about a half-mile away. He recognized the giant when he caught a glimpse of its droptine. The bad news was that there was no way Bob could get a shot, but the good news was that this buck was obviously calling his pasture home. One week of the season remained.

For the next couple of days, he'd cruise to the ground after chores to see if he could get a peek at the buck before sundown. This casual hunting didn't yield any sightings, but it also didn't put any excess pressure on the deer. If this buck were still living here, Bob would have one final weekend to close the deal.

On the second to last day of the season, December 5, Schoenfish was at the gate of his pasture well before shooting light. An unusual night of sleep had him up very early, so he figured he'd get to his spot a little sooner than normal. This extra time allowed Bob to hike farther and watch over a draw he hadn't hunted before.

The bright moon and blanket of snow illuminated the hills. With 15 minutes to go before legal light, he could make out the silhouette of a good buck below him. It would just be a waiting game, so he thought.

Although awaiting jaw aging results, most who saw this deer think it was a younger buck.

With 10 minutes to go, a doe showed up and nearly busted Bob. With 5 minutes to go, a coyote showed up and nearly busted the buck. All this chaos had Bob lying on the ground, causing him to lose sight of the buck below.

With shooting light now upon him, Schoenfish slowly rose up and found the buck again. Standing just 70 yards away was the monster whitetail he'd been following all season. Without hesitation, he confidently shouldered his rifle and touched off a shot.

The buck reacted with no reaction at all, and simply took a couple steps forward. Bob chambered another round and let off another shot. The buck responded the same, so Bob did, too.

Whack! A couple more steps.

Whack! A couple more steps.

Whack! A couple more steps.

Whack! A couple more steps.

Whack! A couple more steps.

Eight shots later, seven of which Schoenfish says connected, and the brute went down. It was only then that Bob started shaking.

He walked up to the mega buck and couldn't believe his eyes. "Every time I looked at it from a different angle, I'd see a new point that I didn't know was there."

Bob sent out a couple pictures, but it seemed like half of the county knew about the buck before he even finished gutting it. Whether the attention was from his texts or all the shooting, we'll never know.

This is the famous photo Bob sent out shortly after walking up to the deer.

"I drove the buck into town to show a couple people, but my quick trip turned into a couple hours. Every person I met would say, 'you have to go show so-and-so.' Then I'd drive to show someone else and I'd be flagged down before I could even get there. It was insane."

Bob's buck hit legend status, and for good reason.

An unofficial measurement puts the deer at 245-inches, with 31 scoreable points. If that number holds true, this is the biggest rifle buck killed in South Dakota in over 50 years. He couldn't be more humbled by it, either.

"I think hunting is 80% luck and 20% shooting, and I think a lot of shooting is just luck."

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