Although Jenna Gregg grew up around hunting with her family and friends near Williamsport, Indiana, it wasn't until she was in high school, when she met future husband Floyd, that she really got into deer hunting.
After that, enrolling at Purdue University as a pharmacy student curtailed Jenna's hunting. Fortunately, by the fall of 2013 her academic load had lifted enough that she could spend more time in the woods again.
Jenna had bowhunted in high school and had missed all three bucks she'd shot at. But she'd tasted success with her muzzleloader on does in three straight years. Now she was ready to get a buck: any buck.
When Jenna wrapped up her finals, late muzzleloader season was in. She was ready to go check out a section of the farm they'd been saving to hunt with the perfect wind.
That wind finally arrived on Dec. 14, on the heels of an early-winter snowstorm: perfect conditions for hunting. Floyd decided she'd get first crack on the new section of the property, while he'd be shooting video. He's co-owner of the hunting show Licensed To Kill Outdoors.
"It was a perfect north wind, making it great for our setup; the deer would be coming from the north," Jenna says. The only real drawback was that the wind was quite stiff and cold. Jenna decided to brave the elements anyway. The ground was covered in eight inches of new snow, but luckily it stopped snowing as they got ready to head out.
"My husband gave me the option of going there for the evening," she says. "And I of course took him up on it. I'd never been there, so I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into."
Floyd assured his wife that the long trek to the back of the field was worth it. "You never know what's going to walk out back here," he told her. They reached the spot around 3:30 and set up where two cut bean fields were separated by a thin strip of trees and brush. Jenna sat against a tree to break up her outline. Floyd, in snow camo, was off to the side. As he set up his video gear, Jenna positioned her shooting stick and muzzleloader.
Then she realized she didn't have her binoculars. But that would prove a blessing in disguise.
THERE'S A GIANT HERE
Although the Greggs had no idea what might be in store for them, they'd known of a specific buck other members of their family had seen. Floyd's dad, Dean, had observed the buck during the 2012 season and had described him as wide and tall, but with a very typical frame.
Floyd's brother, Chase, had seen and shot video footage of the buck that same season, but the rainy and foggy conditions that day had made it hard to really get a good look at the deer's headgear. They definitely could tell he was a giant, though.
DOWN TO BUSINESS
Around 4:30, two does popped out of the timber and into the soybean stubble field about 100 yards from the Greggs. Jenna then noticed two more deer back in the timber, close to where the first two had crossed into the open field.
"We were watching them for a few minutes. Then I noticed another deer farther inside the woods, but too far for me to really see," she says. And without her optics, she couldn't make out the sex of the fifth deer.
The second two deer they'd initially seen entered the field to join the first two. One of the newcomers was a young 8-pointer, the other an antlerless deer. Knowing Jenna was after her first buck, Floyd asked if she'd like to take the 8-pointer.
Jenna quietly explained that she'd spotted a fifth deer and wasn't quite sure what it was. She wanted to know before making her decision. Then one of the does became alert — and things began to get interesting.
A NERVOUS STANDOFF
Jenna felt the doe had picked them off, noting, "She never did blow but did stomp her foot and act very alert. "Although convinced the hunt was over, the two hunters remained as still as "concrete statues," trying to convince the sentry doe to relax. Sure enough, before long she began to pick in the bean stubble again.
Floyd now had his binoculars out and was studying the deer back in the cover. He was having a hard time making out its sex, though, due to the brush and limbs. About that time, Jenna realized those "limbs" were in fact antlers: big antlers!
"I couldn't make out details (of the rack), but I could make out the outline of his rack and could tell he was plenty big enough for me to shoot for a first buck," she recalls in what's a serious understatement.
Floyd then whispered to Jenna, "He's a definite shooter . . . and the biggest deer I've ever seen."
The buck was now walking inside the woods line and approaching the deer that were eating in the field. Jenna couldn't believe he'd come out in broad daylight at 4:45 p.m.
"That was just unheard of," she says. "Monster bucks and smaller bucks on the other side of the farm would never come out before dusk. "The buck walked down the field edge to the corner of the field," she continues. "At this point, Floyd lost him in the camera for a few seconds. I knew he was still there — just not sure where he was going to come out. I took advantage of this time to get my shooting stick and gun up and ready."
IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN
Jenna was in utter disbelief at what happened next: The giant began to walk out into the open bean field to join the other feeding deer. "I tried to avoid looking at his rack," she says. "I could tell out of the corner of my eye that he was plenty big enough for me to shoot."
Floyd said he had the buck in the camera and told his wife to shoot him whenever she was comfortable. Jenna got the crosshairs lined up but then realized she'd forgotten to cock the hammer on her muzzleloader. She slowly cocked it and struggled a bit to get the buck back into the scope.
"I was starting to become nervous that I wasn't going to be able to get a shot," she says. "But I tried my best to remain calm."
The buck had moved into the field a bit more and was now in clear view. With shaky hands, Jenna finally got him back into her scope. She took a deep breath and started to slowly squeeze the trigger.
"I have a history of jerking the gun up when pulling the trigger, so I was very cautious to not do that this time," she says. The buck was at approximately 85 yards, and the moment of truth had arrived. At the report of the muzzleloader, Jenna felt as if she were dreaming — but though this was a dream come true, it was also real life! The buck kicked and then started toward the timber with the other deer.
Jenna felt pretty good about the shot. Floyd called Jenna's dad, Dean, and convinced him that his daughter-in-law had killed the giant. Soon Dean showed up with an ATV.
"We started walking up to the spot and could see blood from about 20 feet away in the snow," Jenna recalls. "There was so much blood Floyd was then convinced the deer was dead." Floyd began to tear up, knowing what was about to happen.
"About 15 yards into the blood trail Floyd pulls up his binoculars, and I instantly knew he saw the buck. The deer only went about 60 yards into the woods before he died. I was in complete and utter shock! Since I didn't have binoculars, I really had no idea what the deer looked like (before the shot). I felt as though I was dreaming, seriously," she says.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Jenna's buck has a 5x6 typical frame grossing 183 2/8 inches. The main beams are 26 5/8 and 27 7/8. Another noteworthy trait is the excellent mass, especially so at the left antler's first two measurements; they're 6 1/8 and 5 1/8 inches. A dozen abnormal points of 1 4/8 to 5 3/8 inches elevate the official net non-typical score to 212 2/8.
"This is the situation every hunter dreams of," Jenna says, "and I couldn't believe it worked out the way it did. I was able to experience this with my husband. Everyone always thinks this could never happen to them, but let me reassure you: If it happened to me, it can happen to anyone!"