January 23, 2023
By Clifford Neames
Dave Stuckey is well-known in his part of Ohio, where he has taken some very big bucks. But his most recent trophy may be the most memorable for several reasons. The 228-inch buck has huge palmated beams, drop tines on each side and a bonus 2 1/2-inch point that grew out below his left eye. It also took him over four years to complete this hunt!
Dave was searching for sheds from another deer when he located both sides of the unusual buck’s rack in 2018. The match set grabbed his interest, and he started looking for the deer. But the buck seemed to roam, and Dave was unable to pin it down.
For all of 2019, the giant buck remained a ghost. In 2020, Dave spotted the buck near a friend’s house, and he learned that it spent most of its time on a farm he could not hunt. However, he did have access to some land that bordered it. Dave also figured out that once the buck shed his velvet, he moved to an entirely different area.
A pattern was developing, but there really wasn’t any sure thing. So, 2020 and 2021 were more of the same.
In 2022, more out of frustration than anything else, Dave put a camera in a thick area just a few yards off the road.
“I had tried about everything else,” Dave remembers. “Then he was there all day long. He would move in and out, and he was even bedding for hours right in front of that camera!”
On Oct. 18, Dave slipped in during some high wind and caught the buck off guard. But things did not go as planned.
“He was right where I expected him to be, and I missed,” Dave says. “No excuses, I just blew the opportunity.”
After that miss, the big buck continued to taunt him, showing up day after day as Dave waited for his next opportunity to slip into the area. Finally, on Oct. 30, the wind was right.
Dave eased into his stand that morning. At 8:30 a.m., the giant showed up pushing some does. Dave made the 53-yard shot with his crossbow, and he knew the hunt was over. He called the game warden to come out and certify that everything was done right, and some friends to help him celebrate and take pictures.