Skip to main content

Bowhunting an Ohio Freak

Bowhunting an Ohio Freak
Mike Wise’s multi-year pursuit of a southern Ohio giant ended on the evening of Oct. 5, 2019. Photo courtesy of Mike Wise

During the 2015 deer season, I began bowhunting a southern Ohio buck I came to know as “The Freak.” I’d have been more than stoked to get him that first year, but it evidently wasn't time yet. In fact, it wouldn’t happen for four years.

Looking back on it now, I realize my problem was that the Highland County giant continued to pattern me at least as much as I patterned him. And what made it even tougher was that I had permission to hunt him on only seven acres. I was all but certain that if a hunter got him, it would be someone other than me. But I never heard of anyone getting the buck, and I continued to capture occasional photos of him on my trail camera.

Finally, as the 2019 season kicked off, I decided to change my approach. I’d been hunting the deer in the same way for three years but had never had a chance at him while hunting. On the other hand, over that span I’d learned more about his core area. Believing he actually was bedding on the seven-acre parcel, I moved forward with my plan to hunt him from an old stand I’d abandoned when I built the box blind a few years before.

On the evening of Oct. 5, I slipped into the dry creek bottom and made my way into the stand as stealthily as I could. To aid in doing so, I took an entirely different route than I’d ever followed before. With this being only my second time hunting this location all season, my hopes were high that this was going to be the day. But then, I’d felt this every time I’d hunted him.


The wind direction wasn’t exactly what I’d have liked, but it wasn’t horrible, either. With my obsessive concern over scent management, I felt I’d be OK. I always use an Ozonics and a mask called the Breath-Taker carbon mask alongside other forms of scent control before entering the woods. I always start my hunts with prayer after settling in for the hunt, thanking the good Lord for the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors — in particular, the opportunity to harvest a mature whitetail.


After a couple hours of swatting mosquitoes but seeing no deer, I started to lose hope and think it was going to be nothing more than just another quiet evening in the woods. But then, just before 7:00 p.m. I saw something walking at a pretty good pace toward me through the undergrowth.

I immediately recognized The Freak by his split G-2 tines, and my pulse jumped to 1,000. I lost all control of my breathing and started to panic, realizing the wind had recently shifted a bit — and not for the better. I reached up to make an adjustment to the Ozonics unit and pulled my mask up over my nose.

trail cam photo of The Freak buck
Several years of trail camera images helped the author keep track of this big whitetail. But getting a visual proved challenging. Photo courtesy of Mike Wise

The buck closed quickly. I watched him at 33 yards for a good five minutes before he made a move and gave me the opportunity to come to full draw. However, I immediately had to let my bow back off and remove the mask so I could find my anchor point and execute the shot I’d been dreaming of for so long.

I asked God for a sense of calmness to come about me so I could make a good shot and then came to full draw again. I settled my 30-yard pin on The Freak and started to feel very relaxed, even though I felt he was going to hear my heart beating like a drum in my chest.


The shot looked great, and I watched him run over the ridge with my arrow sticking out of his side. At that point I realized my lighted nock hadn’t deployed. Now worried and wondering why I hadn’t achieved a clean pass-through, I began to panic. I started replaying the last few seconds in my head over and over and still felt good about the shot placement. It was only 7:00, with a lot of light left.

I sat tight for another 20 minutes and then started packing it in. Not wanting to risk bumping the deer, I got out of the woods as fast as I could and left the property. I drove about 4.5 miles to the end of the road to get cell phone signal so I could call a buddy for help.

When I rang his phone, I couldn’t believe it: No one answered. Evidently everyone had gone somewhere to watch the Buckeye football game on TV or actually had traveled to the game.


Unable to reach my friend, I waited three grueling hours before going back in to look for blood. With minimal sign, I started to worry and second-guess my shot all over again. It took me over an hour to track spotty blood just 100 yards or so.

But then . . . there he was. Overwhelmed with emotion, I broke down and began to sob like a baby, continuing to thank God for this amazing journey. My shot had hit the deer perfectly, piercing both lungs. The reason for my arrow not having passed through was that it had hit the inside of the opposite shoulder blade.

The Freak had consumed me for the last few years, and I’d finally killed him. I’d only seen the buck for a few seconds the year before but had hundreds of live photos of him. I now believe he’d been bedding under 100 yards from my box blind and had watched me come and go on many occasions. The time stamps on many trail camera images only solidified my suspicions about that.

I’m still in disbelief that I was able to pull this off, because The Freak was so smart. But that afternoon I finally closed that chapter of my exciting journey.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Deer Factory: Northern Climate Warm-Season Food Plots

Deer Factory: Northern Climate Warm-Season Food Plots

Dr. James Kroll and Pat Hogan discuss warm-season food plots on this deer factory in Minnesota.

Planting Fruit Mast Trees for Whitetails

Planting Fruit Mast Trees for Whitetails

Learn how planting fruit trees can benefit your deer herd.

Gear Wise: All About Trail Cameras

Gear Wise: All About Trail Cameras

Clint McCoy discusses the advancements in trail camera technology over the years and how the high-tech units available today can help you become a better deer hunter.

Food Plots and Dogs

Food Plots and Dogs

On this edition of "Deer Dog," Jeremy Moore discusses how to connect food plots to deer and your deer dog.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

With a sweet and tangy bourbon BBQ sauce drizzled over venison backstrap, this recipe is perfect to fulfill that Cajun craving.Bourbon BBQ Venison Backstrap Recipe Venison Recipes

Bourbon BBQ Venison Backstrap Recipe

Chef Derek St. Romain

With a sweet and tangy bourbon BBQ sauce drizzled over venison backstrap, this recipe is...

Fill your quiver with the right ammo this season.The Best Arrows for Deer Hunting Bowhunting

The Best Arrows for Deer Hunting

Tony J. Peterson - June 10, 2019

Fill your quiver with the right ammo this season.

We'll explain which supplements whitetails can obtain in the field, and the best ways to provide them with the ones they can't. Which Minerals Do Deer Need? Off-Season

Which Minerals Do Deer Need?

Dr. James C. Kroll

We'll explain which supplements whitetails can obtain in the field, and the best ways to...

The right arrow for your setup will boost your whitetail body count. Building The Ultimate Whitetail Arrow Bowhunting

Building The Ultimate Whitetail Arrow

Jace Bauserman

The right arrow for your setup will boost your whitetail body count.

See More Trending Articles

More Trophy Bucks

A hunter bags a monster on his new farm with traditional archery equipment. Full Circle: Iowa Monster Buck Taken with Traditional Tackle Trophy Bucks

Full Circle: Iowa Monster Buck Taken with Traditional Tackle

Jacob Miner

A hunter bags a monster on his new farm with traditional archery equipment.

An outside spread that nearly equals a yardstick? This Ohio buck is crazy wide. Ultra-Wide Whitetail Arrowed in Ohio Amish Country Trophy Bucks

Ultra-Wide Whitetail Arrowed in Ohio Amish Country

Joe Martino

An outside spread that nearly equals a yardstick? This Ohio buck is crazy wide.

Traveling by boat helped this Tennessee hunter score big.Giant Tennessee Buck by Boat Trophy Bucks

Giant Tennessee Buck by Boat

Bernie Barringer

Traveling by boat helped this Tennessee hunter score big.

Troy Bryant tagged the bruiser in November, which just received a dry score of 190 6/8 inches net.Bryant Buck: Oklahoma Hunter Tags Top-5 Typical Whitetail Trophy Bucks

Bryant Buck: Oklahoma Hunter Tags Top-5 Typical Whitetail

Lynn Burkhead - January 27, 2020

Troy Bryant tagged the bruiser in November, which just received a dry score of 190 6/8 inches...

See More Trophy Bucks

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the North American Whitetail App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All North American Whitetail subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now