September 04, 2023
J.P. Penzkover’s casual trip to spend time with friends last November in Wisconsin morphed into a hunt for a world-class whitetail. “I was incredibly lucky,” J.P. recalls. “But I’m sure happy with the way it all turned out!”
After several years of his schedule being too busy and dealing with an injured shoulder, J.P. finally found time to join his hunting buddies Damian and Curtis. The three of them have hunted together for other big game animals all over the country. This hunt would bring them together again on Damian’s property with the whitetail rut in full swing.
Damian had been sending pictures of deer and his invitation to J.P. for some time. And J.P. had jokingly warned him that he would probably shoot the wrong deer. “I knew there were some great bucks there, but I was going just to hang out,” J.P. claims. “And just shooting a couple of does would have made me happy.”
On his first afternoon hunt, he made it to the woods and saw several young bucks cruising. That action lured him back for the next hunt. The second morning didn’t produce, but after lunch and comradery, he returned to the same stand. Not long into that sit, he spotted a huge whitetail. It was going to pass well out of range, so he took a quick video and sent it to his host in a text message. The reply came quickly: “OMG, that’s Walter!”
“Walter,” presumed to be 180-plus, had been around for a while. No hunters had seen him, and he was absolutely the largest buck on the property. With the knowledge that he was daylighting in the area, it was time for a new plan.
That night everyone gathered around the table. The DeerCast app predicted major deer movement the next day, so the decision was made to surround the area with hunters.
J.P. was back in his stand early that morning, but Walter was once again a no-show. “The morning was really dead,” J.P. remembers. “So, we all took a mid-day break. I really suspected that he had moved on, and that I would never see him again."
When J.P. returned to the stand, the action picked up quickly. A small buck cruised by, passing at 10 yards with his nose to the ground. Just 45 minutes later, J.P. spotted movement through the trees. “As soon as I saw him, I knew it was Walter,” J.P. says. “He was coming in at a fast trot! I drew my bow, bleated at him twice, but he never reacted.”
J.P. glanced ahead, found an opening, bleated again and squeezed the release. The arrow found its mark, and the giant buck ran downhill behind the stand. J.P. sent a group text out saying, “No lie, I just killed Walter!” Then he texted his wife: “I just killed Walter, and I am shaking too bad to get down from the stand!”
The whole hunting party arrived within a few minutes, and when they walked up on the buck, they realized he was much bigger than they had thought. First guesses were in the 190s, but they were still far short. The giant taped out at 212 gross Boone and Crockett. J.P. is getting a replica made, so that he and his friend, Damian, will both have a mount to admire.