Days before Halloween, veteran Sooner State bowhunter John McCollum turns to new muzzleloader to down a Coal County monster buck dubbed Megatron.
Given his druthers, 39-year old John McCollum would rather have used his Obsession compound bow to take a monster buck he had matched wits with for nearly four years.
But after getting the fall season's first trail camera photo of the buck in mid-October, McCollum decided it was time to make a change as Halloween approached.
A change made necessary after the hunter's cat-and-mouse chess game with the giant mainframe 10-point dubbed "Megatron," one that McCollum and several other area hunters have chased in recent years in Coal County, Oklahoma.
With that thought in mind, the Coalgate, Okla. hunter traded in his bow — which he had already used to tag a 151-inch whitetail earlier in October - for a brand-new muzzleloader as the Oct. 28-Nov. 5, 2017 Sooner State smokepole season prepared to open up.
"I went out recently and got me a brand new CVA Accura .50 caliber," said McCollum. "I put a Bushnell Trophy XLT scope on top of it and got it sighted in properly."
Even with the muzzleloader in hand, McCollum found more frustration in his multi-year quest to take the buck, finding himself on an opening day smokepole hunt that didn't pan out the way he wanted.
"After my opening day hunt, I came home and really didn't know what to do," said McCollum. "I felt like it wasn't meant to be for me."
While the full details of McCollum's hunt for the giant Oklahoma whitetail are being saved for potential magazine articles down the road, suffice it to say that the hunter was able to notch his deer tag the very next day.
Since taking the deer, news of McCollum downing Megatron has spread as quickly as an Oklahoma prairie wildfire.
"I took him down to my taxidermist, Ronnie Watson down in Caney, Okla., because I wanted him to cape the buck out," he said. "I was afraid I might make a poor cut or something since I was so excited.
"Well, as it turned out, it was hard for him to cape the deer too. A couple of people showed up and they called some other folks and the next thing I knew, it seemed like there were 50 others in the shop."
After getting in bed at 12:30 p.m., McCollum had a short and fitful night of sleep.
"I'm an early bird and was up between 4:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. the next morning, but I didn't get a whole lot of work done," he said. "It's just been nuts with people calling and wanting to hear about the deer."
That's completely understandable given the dimensions of the buck's rack. While the deer can't be officially measured for inclusion in the Boone and Crockett Club (www.boone-crockett.org) record book for 60-days, the early numbers — assuming they hold up down the road — are eye-brow raising.
"He's basically a mainframe 10-point with three other extra tines," said McCollum. "His G2s are 14 ½ and 15 inches, his G3s are 12 ½ and 13 inches. His main beams are a little over 26-inches and he has between 43 and 44 inches of mass."
That all adds up to a possible green non-typical score in the lower 200s, impressive in its own right. But when one considers that the score of the 10-point mainframe is in the mid-190s, the buck becomes even more impressive.
The bottom line here is that while no official numbers are out on the McCollum buck just yet, it appears to be one destined to make both the B&C record book and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's (www.wildlifedepartment.com) Cy Curtis Awards Program.
"I have never have put (any) of my deer in the books, I don't hunt for that (reason)," said McCollum. "But I might make an exception this time — this deer is special and deserves everything he can get."
"He looks like something out of Kansas or Canada, he looks like he doesn't belong here," he added. "He's really just a freak of nature and fits the name Megatron that we gave him from the get go."
Now that he's tagged out, what will McCollum do with his time? Simple — play dad and chief deer hunting guide to his 17-year old daughter Amara, his 14-year old daughter Shalyn, and his 11-year old son Brody, all veteran deer hunters in their own right.
"I guess as long as one of them will let me tag along with them, I'll do that," said McCollum. "I'm one of those dads who thinks that it's off the charts to get to do things like this with them.
"My grandma once told me about my kids, 'They don't need much, but they do need love.' I don't have much as far as material possessions go, but with my wife and kids and the deer hunting I get to do, I'm an extremely blessed and rich man as far as I'm concerned."
A man with a giant Oklahoma whitetail now wearing McCollum's tag.
"To be honest, this buck is probably the best I'll take in my lifetime," said McCollum. "There probably will not be another deer like that one because everybody that hunts, they pray for one like him.
"He's pretty amazing," continued the hunter. "Between my deer and my kid's deer, we probably have something like 17 or 18 deer mounts — and one elk mount — on the wall. Most all of those are in the back of the house. But this one, my son Brody told me this morning 'Dad, mom said we can put this one in the front room.'"
As my interview time with McCollum ended, the humble Oklahoma hunter apologized for gushing on about his hunt.
"I'll admit that when watching deer hunting shows on TV and seeing someone take a mega-giant buck, I wondered what that felt like," said McCollum. "Well, I finally understand it a little bit I guess. It's been surreal, almost like a fantasy.
"It's still all unbelievable for me," he added. "I thank God for this chance, He needs all of the glory. I don't know why I'm the one that got to take this deer."
But McCollum was the one who got to take a giant Sooner State buck named Megatron, a massive whitetail apparently destined for the front room and then some.