November 22, 2022
By Clifford Neames
Big bucks are notorious for their seclusive lifestyle and elusive ways, often appearing only in nighttime trail camera photos. Garrett Bourquin spotted a buck near his house in northeast Ohio in 2020 that didn’t get that memo.
Initially being seen crossing the road, the buck kept showing up at a feeder behind his house. He would enter the open area and go to the pond, barely 100 yards away from the back door over the next two years. By the 2022 season he had grown into a giant, and Garrett had him at the top of his target list.
The frequent appearances made planning a hunt easy. Garrett set up a blind in the lower corner of the pasture, overlooking several trails that led from a bedding area to a cornfield. He could watch the pond from there, too. If the big deer showed, he would be well within range for a crossbow. Garrett was ready.
Then, he decided to take his younger sister hunting on opening day, giving her the first chance at the buck. They saw several does and some smaller bucks, which all got a pass that morning. After giving it all they had, the older deer didn’t show.
On Oct. 5, Garrett came home from school planning to hunt the deer again. He had to get a haircut first, which made him late getting out to the blind. The sun was low in the sky when he spotted some does passing through, and 30 minutes later a small buck came by. So did a nice 10-point. “It would have been an easy shot, but I let that one walk so my sister could have a chance at it,” says Garrett. “I was only after the big one!”
Then he noticed his target coming down the trail. “He was completely calm,” Garrett adds. “But I started shaking all over!”
When he fired the crossbow, the giant buck mule-kicked and took off. Once he was out of sight, Garrett decided to walk up to the house and get some supper. “My plan was to give the deer time to expire, and I was hungry,” he explains.
About an hour later he was back on the trail, but the big deer had vanished. And days later, after hours of long searches, it was still missing. “I was disappointed but also determined to find him,” Garrett recalls.
On day four, he and his dad made one last look, and they discovered the giant buck down in a thicket 350 yards from the blind. “We had walked past him so many times,” Garrett sighs.
The giant rack has 7-inch brow tines, an 8-inch kicker off the left base, heavy mass and plenty of character pushing it over 175 inches. “I may never get one this big again,” Garrett says. “I am just so thankful he wasn’t lost forever!”