March 16, 2022
By Gregory Shembarger
Breaking News Buck
We have all heard the saying, “Michigan can’t grow big deer.” And ever since I killed my first 200-plus-inch deer in Illinois, my top goal has been to kill one in Michigan.
After four years of history, hard work and patience, a buck we named “Firecracker” finally reached the age of 5 1/2 years old; and he absolutely exploded! Sporting double drop tines and many stickers, he is a unique, Michigan stud!
When October finally rolled around, I decided to dedicate my season to following my little brother around with a camera, hoping he would bag Firecracker. We both hunted extremely hard for the buck in a smart, non-intrusive way throughout the entire month of October. However, we had no on-stand sightings of Firecracker.
On the morning of Nov. 4, my dad watched and filmed Firecracker from 180 yards away as he pushed a doe around our property. Since he was out of bow range, my dad could only watch in awe.
A couple weeks later, on Nov. 23, I promised my brother I would go with him and film. When morning came I slept through my alarm and woke up to my brother asking me if I was still going with him. Knowing I would make him a little late, I told him to go without me and I that I would hunt a blind we call “The Trailer Park.”
As I settled into my blind, I started seeing deer immediately. Then I noticed a bush that looked just like Firecracker off in the distance. I pulled up my binoculars and saw it moving. That’s when I realized that what I thought was a bush was actually the buck we have been chasing all year!
The doe with Firecracker walked through my shooting lane, so I pulled my rangefinder up to range her, but I didn’t see her. My rangefinder was completely dead, and I had the biggest Michigan buck I could possibly ever see in front of me. I frantically called my dad to ask him how far Firecracker was when he saw him just weeks earlier. As he told me 180 yards, I dialed my Leupold scope and slowly squeezed the trigger.
The smoke cleared, and I couldn’t see a thing! Not knowing where or if I even hit him, we waited a couple hours before going to look. Thankfully, we found blood almost immediately and tracked the buck no more than 50 yards before finding him piled up!
We put in years of work and passed up hundreds of deer, so we could have the opportunity to hunt a buck of this caliber. It’s a very special feeling and sense of accomplishment to have it all work out perfectly. I am beyond grateful I got to experience it with all my friends and family. If it wasn’t for my dad or grandpa, none of my hunting accomplishments would even be possible!