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Ray Primmer Buck: 189-Inch Missouri Brute

Ray Primmer Buck: 189-Inch Missouri Brute

ray_primmer_2There are endless success stories about the impacts of quality deer management (QDM). As a management philosophy, it's catching on across North America, and it's no mystery why. Bigger, healthier deer populations is the goal, and many wildlife agencies are aligning their hunting regulations with this model.

States are implementing point restrictions, setting firearm seasons outside peak rut and adjusting numbers of available tags as needed. Hunters and landowners are planting food plots, providing supplemental feed and minerals and keeping a watchful eye on the quality and quantity of their herd.

Meanwhile, game-monitoring technology has taken QDM a step farther. Years ago, you might have had an idea of what quality and ratios of animals were on a tract of land, but it was in large part only a "best guess." Due to nocturnal activity, phases of the rut and the fact we can't be observing the herd in more than one place at a time, we couldn't know we were getting a true snapshot of the herd.

With cameras, that's all changed. Now one hunter can monitor a property and travel patterns year-round. Cameras let us know exactly what the quality and quantity of the deer herd is. We can determine what the largest deer is on the farm or maybe target some bucks that have inferior genetics in an effort to improve overall herd.

Of course, another positive aspect of multiple game cameras is that, if used correctly, they enable you to know where the deer are.

As a member of the U.S. military, I understand all too well the problem of having limited time to hunt. Keeping cameras up and running while at work enables you to pick the best stand or locations to hunt on your precious time off. This is exactly what provided me the advantage on my 100-acre tract in north-central Missouri during the 2013 season.

Purchasing my property in the spring of 2012, I knew I'd have a challenge ahead of me. I not only had to learn the lay of the land and deer movement, but also set up food plots.  The goal was to put my family and myself in the right locations to harvest mature bucks that fall. But when I was informed I had scheduled military training (I'm active-duty Air Force) starting Nov. 1, my priorities changed. My goal became to help my wife, Kim, get her first deer with archery tackle.

As time was ticking down on that 2012 season, she rattled in and took her first bow whitetail. The buck she harvested was a very nice 9-pointer we'd photographed on numerous occasions. He even had been named "Kim's buck," because she'd almost hit him in July, while operating our ATV on the property during a scouting trip.

Warlock Appears

During the fall of 2012 I also was fortunate to capture a trail camera picture of a dandy non-typical, which Kim named "Warlock." Outside of a couple-day window in 2012, he was a ghost. Based on photos, he traveled between our property and the one to the north.

ray_primmer_1Another nice surprise came when the farmer on the adjacent tract found Warlock's shed that winter, confirming he'd survived hunting season. So as we prepared for the 2013 season, I knew I needed to gather as much information as I could about the buck and his patterns.

The preparation also included a key habitat decision: planting soybeans and turnips in my food plots. Those extra groceries would prove beneficial as I began to get early-season pictures of Warlock. Unbelievably, his extra points had swapped sides on his rack — and it was clear he'd added an extra 20 to 30 inches of antler. He was a true giant, the likes of which I'd never seen.

In an effort to keep track of this bruiser, I kept 10-12 game cameras rolling from July into the rifle season in mid-November. Warlock vanished for the majority of October but resurfaced during Halloween week. I didn't have any luck actually laying eyes on him though archery season, but I remained excited. The previous season, Warlock had been very active in mid-November. He had a weakness for the ladies, which I hoped would continue to feed in my food plots.

Gun Season Begins

The first few days of firearms season were warm and windy, and overall deer activity was slow. Heading out to hunt the fourth morning, I'd made up my mind to hunt a few hours, then travel back home to help my wife with our newborn girl.

At 8:30 a.m. I heard what I believed to be antlers crashing in the timber just beyond the backside of my turnip food plot. About 15 minutes later, a nice 9-pointer and a smaller 8-pointer skirted the edge of the timber, heading away from the sound of the fight. My suspicions were validated about 10:30, when I decided to leave the blind and check my trail camera in the food plot. I immediately learned that at 1:20 that morning Warlock had traveled across the food plot in the direction of the antler crashing I'd later heard.

Back at camp, my next move was to call my understanding wife and get permission to hunt this world-class whitetail another day. I had a feeling he might scent-check the food plot again that evening in search of a "hot" doe. The million-dollar question, of course, was whether or not he'd do so during daylight hours.

Face to Face

The evening hunt began uneventfully, with zero deer sighting the first three hours. About 45 minutes before dark, I let out a couple soft doe bleats with my Primos can call.  I needed to start softly, because I felt the giant buck might be bedded within easy earshot of the plot.

Twenty minutes later, I heard crunching of the fallen leaves off the backside of the plot, in the direction of the suspected bedded buck. The cadence seemed correct for a deer, but all of a sudden the forest went silent.

ray_primmer_3fAfter what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was probably only five minutes, the huge buck materialized out of the timber on the far side of the plot about 90 yards away. My heart kicked into overdrive. It seemed almost as if a ghost had appeared; I felt I was dreaming.  In 24 years of deer hunting I'd never seen a buck this size, dead or alive.

The giant was on a deliberate walk across the turnip plot, seemingly unaware of the tasty snacks that lay under his hooves. He was on a mission for does, and I had to act quickly. Holding my crosshairs just in front of the buck's chest, I touched off the trigger as soon as the front of his shoulder met the center of the reticle.

At the shot, Warlock stumbled and bolted out of sight. A rush of emotion flooded over me. The first thing I did was to call my beautiful wife to tell her the news. But I literally couldn't formulate a coherent sentence.

It didn't take long to find the downed buck. And let's just say there was no ground shrinkage on this one.  Following the 60-day drying period, Warlock grossed 197 2/8 inches and netted 189 2/8.

In Conclusion

As a landowner and hunter, I feel I owe my 2013 success to two key decisions. First and foremost would be setting up and monitoring my game cameras. Without photos of this deer over two years — and specifically the day before I shot him — I surely wouldn't have been in that blind that fateful evening. Secondly, he wouldn't have been searching for does in this area without our having provided that food source as an attractant.

Of course, food plots and trail cameras cost money. But the benefits are huge. As far as cameras go, you don't have to purchase 12 of them. If you can set up even a couple in your hotspots, you'll undoubtedly increase your understanding of local deer habits and get a better feel for the herd's antler genetics.

It's like Christmas morning each time I pop an SD card into my computer to view the images captured while I was working. Especially if you manage land, this technology is a rewarding and addictive weapon to have in your whitetail arsenal.

Kyle Heuerman

Any serious whitetail hunter knows that it's not often that we get a second chance on the buck of a lifetime, or even a first chance for that matter. But luck was on the side of Kyle Heuerman and his girlfriend Jennifer Weaver when they put an arrow through this 196-inch Illinois brute. Read the full story.

Joe Franz

We estimate he was 7 1/2 years old. That's based on photos from 2010, when he clearly wasn't over 3 1/2. When I got him he weighed over 300 pounds on the hoof, as suspected. Official B&C measurer Glen Salow came up with a 'green ' gross score of 258 7/8 inches. After the 60-day drying period, he again taped the rack. This time he got a gross non-typical score of 261 3/8, with a net of 230 7/8. The gross score evidently makes this the highest-scoring wild whitetail ever harvested on professional video. Read the full story.

Jon Massie

Jon's no stranger to free-ranging whitetails across the central plains, having guided a number of clients to trophies and harvesting many big ones himself. In fact, going into 2013 he'd shot two net Boone & Crocketts: one a non-typical scoring over 200, the other a typical from public land. With such success behind him, Jon felt all of his hunting dreams already had come true. At least, he did until a buck he'd never seen showed up on one of his trail cameras. Read the full story.

Tom Boyer

Knowing I couldn't even come to my knees without breaking the little concealment we had, I decided to lie on my left side, using my left elbow for as solid a rest as could be achieved within the slight incline of the old fencerow. But when I shouldered the rifle, the sight of the crosshairs oriented at a 10-4 o'clock angle was definitely a different look from the normal 12-6 position we all practice from. Even so, I didn't figure that would matter if I aimed at the right spot and squeezed off a clean shot. I settled the crosshairs where I needed to place the bullet and steadied the rifle. Whispering 'fire in the hole ' while floating the crosshairs on the spot, I gently squeezed the trigger until the recoil removed the buck from my view. Read the full story.

Teddy's Buck

With a whopping 40 inches of non-typical growth, he has a gross Boone & Crockett score of 215 3/8. The rack's 21 6/8-inch inside spread certainly helps to show off its unique character. He was just a special deer, and very much a result of patience in both management and hunting. Read the full story.

Ryan Sullivan

Ryan Sullivan was only 19 when, during the 2013 season, he arrowed an Arkansas buck of gigantic proportions. Like many of his fellow Arkansans, Ryan is a deer and duck fanatic. For several years, however, he gave up most of his duck season to lock horns with the world-class buck. Read the full story.

Junior Key

Junior's outstanding whitetail is the biggest ever recorded from Monroe County, and he ranks as one of the Bluegrass State's top bucks from the 2013-14 season. This great non-typical also is the latest member of Kentucky's all-time Top 30 list. Read the full story.

Mikell Fries

At 16 yards, Mikell took aim at the giant and released his arrow. In an instant, the shaft had passed through him. The deer instantly whirled and ran out of sight . . . but then, within seconds the archer heard him crash to the ground. 'I remained in the stand for several minutes to gather my thoughts and calm down, ' Mikell says. 'I'm sure the entire encounter only took a few minutes, but it seemed an eternity. ' Read the full story.

Bill Robinson

Three double-digit tines of 10 2/8 to 13 5/8 inches, plus 7 1/8- and 9 3/8-inch brows and a 21 3/8-inch inside spread, add plenty to this regal crown. Put everything together and you have a gross 9-point frame score of 193 6/8. That's as big as it sounds. Typical asymmetry and 11 6/8 inches of abnormal points total 25 1/8 inches of deductions, so as a typical, the deer nets 'only ' 168 5/8. But the 8×5 rack's total gross score of 205 4/8 is much more reflective of its stunning size. Regardless of score, the Robinson buck is clearly a marvel of nature. Read the full story.

Nick Drake

The action was fast and furious right from the get-go. At daybreak a doe busted through the cedar thicket with an eight-point suitor following close behind. The doe, however, wanted nothing to do with her pursuer and jumped into a nearby pond in an attempt to flee the buck. This, however, wasn't the last of the action. Nick continued to watch several bucks harass does throughout the morning, but chose not to take a shot at them. Read the full story.

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