December 03, 2021
By Blake Garlock
Breaking News Bucks 2021
Lee Duarte woke up on Oct. 2 and checked his cellular camera as soon as he got out of bed. To his surprise, a giant buck had walked in front of his camera in the middle of the night.
“I thought, oh my gosh, he’s a giant,” says Lee. “But I had never seen this deer before.”
Lee runs his cameras year-round, so he was especially surprised that he had never seen the buck before. However, Lee knew he needed to act fast to get in the woods and hunt the buck. Unfortunately, he couldn’t hunt the deer as soon as he wanted to.
“I couldn’t get in there because I had plans to go out to where I hunt in Ohio,” says Lee. “I had to go out there and set things up and fix some things.”
Although Lee had just seen the buck for the first time, it didn’t take long for him to develop a pattern in the coming days. Lee received trail camera photos of the deer on Oct. 4 and 6. And on both days the deer was on camera in the evenings just before dark.
“I couldn’t get in on the seventh because I had to watch my daughter,” says Lee. “So, I knew the eighth was my day.”
On Oct. 8, Lee left work at noon so he could do what he had to at home and have plenty of time to get in the woods.
Lee drove his four-wheeler into his hunting area and climbed into his tree stand. At about 4:30 p.m., Lee sent a text to his wife to let her know he’d have spotty service while he was in the woods. Then, he put his phone away.
“I put my phone in my pocket and then looked to my right,” says Lee. “And there he was.”
At 45 yards away in a thicket, the buck appeared much earlier than he had been crossing in front of Lee’s camera.
“I didn’t grab my bow or anything,” remembers Lee. “I just started shaking. I was having a hard time breathing I was shaking so bad.”
Lee calmed himself down, but the buck took 45 minutes before he walked within shooting range of Lee. The whole time the buck had his nose in the air scent-checking, but he never smelled Lee. Then, the buck walked to 30 yards and turned broadside.
“I could’ve shot him 100 times at 30 yards,” says Lee. “But I knew he was coming closer.”
The buck walked to 25 yards and looked straight at Lee. As that happened, a small 4-point walked in from behind Lee and stood below his tree stand. The larger buck continued glaring at Lee.
“I thought the gig was up,” says Lee.
The two bucks then started walking toward each other, and the big buck postured up to fight the 4-point just eight yards from Lee. However, the 4-point walked away, and the big buck stood broadside eight yards from Lee.
“I drew and put the pin right on him,” says Lee. “I was shaking a little, but I still heart shot him.”
After the shot, the buck ran 13 yards and fell over in front of Lee. Lee tried to call his wife to tell her he shot the giant, but he didn’t have service. So, he walked back to his four-wheeler to call his wife and some friends before he ever put his hands on the deer.
Lee grabbed a sled that he uses to haul corn into the area (and to haul deer out), and then he walked over to the buck.
“When I looked at him, I got emotional,” says Lee. “That buck is pretty big.”
After the buck was field-dressed, Lee and his friends weighed the deer. The buck weighed-in at 235 pounds, and his antlers had a green score of 166 5/8 inches.
“He is a huge deer,” says Lee. “My whole life, I’ve just wanted to kill a 150 buck. And I killed a bigger one.”