Ellen Turner Buck: 180-Inch Ohio Brute


Not many Ohio deer hunters can say their first kill was made on another continent. But that's how I started my hunting career.

Until 2008, I'd never hunted big game at all. Then, my husband, Jerry, placed a crossbow in my hands. I enjoyed shooting it, and after a bit of practice we were off on my first hunt — to Africa!

As beginner's luck would have it, I got a kudu and an impala. It was an amazing start. When I returned to Ohio, it was time to start preparing for my first fall in the deer woods of Brown County. I hunted just about every day of our long bow season from one of several stands. In the process, I endured all kinds of weather: rain, snow and high winds. Finally, on the last day I got an 8-pointer. And from then on, I was hooked.

ellen_turner_OHI moved to a compound bow in 2009. Since then I've not only bowhunted Africa again, I've also been to New Zealand, Texas, Florida and Canada, as well as the deer woods here in southwestern Ohio. Throughout that span, I've never once even considered hunting with a gun.

As I got into hunting more, I started shooting all year, to do what I could to always hit a target animal in the vitals. I even joined the International Bow Hunting Association and started shooting tournaments every weekend. In the process, I really improved my accuracy from 5 yards out to 30, and I gradually increased my bow poundage from 42 to 55.

Along with increasing my shooting skill has come an effort to learn all I can from each hunt, no matter the species. And I've learned not just from success, but also from failure. For instance, I hunted bears in Canada last August, and on that trip I learned something about location.

No matter how hard you hunt, it ultimately comes down to being in the right place. You can have good gear and shooting skills, play the wind and minimize human odor — but if the location is wrong, you won't be successful. I only saw one bear, and it was so small I didn't shoot. That was my first trip on which I wasn't successful in filling a tag.

2014 Bow Season

Last summer, we heard rumor of a huge buck on the farm we hunt, and one day we got a look at him in a field. But over the first few weeks of bow season, it was hard to spend a lot of time pursuing him. With things hectic at my business, finding time to be in the tree wasn't easy. Working as hard and as fast as I could, then showering with scent-free soap and getting to my stand 20 minutes from home before 5 p.m. proved a real challenge.

In previous years I'd rotated among several stands. But in 2014, I decided to try a new strategy: putting my time and effort into only one spot. By the afternoon of Oct. 25 I'd hunted it 20 times, carrying in corn and apples to lure the deer. (Baiting is legal here in Ohio.)

This particular tree I hadn't been able to hunt the past several years, because my scent generally blew toward a nearby opening the deer traveled through to reach the bean field. But last fall I had a new weapon to employ. For my bear hunt I'd bought an Ozonics ozone generator. During bow season in our part of Ohio, the wind often blows several directions within an hour, making it hard to find a good setup. I hoped the Ozonics would let me hunt even with the wrong wind.

That afternoon I was settled in by 4:45. It was a warm day, and no deer showed up until 6:00. First a yearling came out from my right, which was the direction in which my filtered scent was blowing. Then another yearling came in. Fifteen minutes later, a large doe entered.

The deer were constantly looking back toward the opening. Sure enough, another large doe came to the corn. But then all four deer began looking back.

As they stared toward the opening, I heard some noise from there. That's when a giant buck I'd never seen emerged from the cover — stopping just 18 yards from me, facing toward my tree.

ellen_turner_1Unaware I was watching him, the buck began eating apples. I was amazed he couldn't hear my heart pounding. I had to calm down!

After 15 excruciating minutes of watching the huge deer feed without his ever offering me a broadside shot, the wind reminded me of the challenge of this location. It shifted — and all five of the deer bolted, running out to a distance of 50 yards before stopping to look around.

Evidently they hadn't intercepted a strong dose of human odor, though. Slowly the antlerless deer started back toward the bait, and soon all four of them were feeding. But the big buck wasn't so sure.

The beans recently had been harvested, so the weeds I'd been using for yardage markers had been cut down. So I'd temporarily placed four small rocks in the field as markers. Two were at 30 yards, the others at 36. I didn't have a 35-yard pin but knew where to hold my 30-yard pin to be on at 36.

The buck stood broadside between the rock markers, looking away from me. I knew it was now or never — provided I didn't spook any of the other deer. Fortunately, they all had their heads down as I drew. Upon realizing I hadn't been busted by any of the deer, I took my time, aimed and squeezed the release.

ellen_turner_chartThe arrow penetrated the buck's chest, and he immediately jumped and ran toward the woods. That concerned me, as there's a very steep ravine just inside that woodsline. Suddenly, though, he turned and ran toward the center of the field, staggered and fell. He gave one last leg jerk and was out for good.

I'd done it: I'd shot a deer of the size everyone had told me I couldn't. My 2012 buck scored 156 3/8, and realistically, he was the deer of a lifetime. I'd been told I'd never get a bigger one in Ohio. But now, only two years later, I'd done just that, through the heart at 32 yards. My deer received an official Pope & Young score of 180 2/8 net as a 5x5 with a short non-typical point.

I've kept a journal of every hunt I've ever been on. While I've journeyed to some dream destinations, this hunt near home by far exceeds the rest. Dreams do come true. With patience and perseverance, who knows what lies ahead?

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