October 07, 2022
Anthony Peoples had a buck with a broken antler walk by him in 2020 while bowhunting in Missouri. The buck clearly had potential, so Anthony thought to himself, I’ll see you in a couple years.
In 2021, Anthony began receiving trail camera pictures of the buck that had passed him, and it was clear the buck was a shooter. “He grew exponentially,” Anthony recalls. “He was probably in the mid 170s then. He was a really solid 6x6, and I knew I wanted to try and get this deer that year.”
That fall Anthony got his opportunity, and the target buck J-hooked into his bedding area just as Anthony had anticipated, stopping broadside at 10 yards. Anthony shot just underneath the buck with his recurve, and the buck trotted out to 26 yards and stopped again. Unfortunately, Anthony’s second arrow did not hit the deer lethally.
“He disappeared after that,” Anthony says. “I didn’t get any trail camera pictures of him for the remainder of 2021.” On March 29, 2022, Anthony was looking in a wetlands area for the buck’s carcass or body, and he found the buck’s shed. “I thought, oh my gosh, it’s him,” Anthony remembers. “I thought it was great that he was still alive.”
In July of this year, Anthony received pictures of the buck again. However, from the pictures, it didn’t appear like the buck had grown; but Anthony shared the pictures with a few close friends and still planned on hunting the deer. After an elk hunt in Colorado, Anthony returned home to Missouri in mid-September and began harvesting crops. On Tuesday Sept. 27, Anthony and his son hung a new tree stand on the property. The next day, Anthony went back to the location and finished prepping the set. Then, on Thursday Sept. 29, Anthony thought to himself, I have to go hunting.
“There was just something about it,” Anthony recalls. “I just had to go. And I went with a big feeling of guilt, because my wife was left with the little kids.” Anthony walked into his spot with a southeast wind, which was a hang-on tree stand only 8 feet off the ground. While on stand, Anthony had a work call. As soon as he got off the call, he heard leaves crunching behind him, so he turned around.
“The sun was lighting up his body,” Anthony says. “I saw his right side G3, and I knew I didn’t want to mess the opportunity up.” The buck took 20 minutes to come in and made three scrapes during his approach. Then the buck quickly closed the distance on Anthony and came in behind the hunter’s tree stand.
“He was walking, and I drew, picked a spot and leaned over,” Anthony remembers. “And then I heard his diaphragm pop.”
After calling his dad and some friends to tell them he had shot the buck, Anthony’s friend, Brad Blankenship, told him not to go after the buck until 1:00 p.m. the following day. Anthony waited overnight, but by 10:30 a.m. he couldn’t wait any longer. Anthony and his father went after the buck, and Anthony thought to himself, Dear God, please let me find him.
Anthony looked up while tracking and saw the buck bedded at eight yards, and he made a perfect follow-up shot on the buck.
“I knew he was a good buck,” Anthony says. “But that’s all I knew. When I put my hands on him my dad said to me, ‘What have you done?’ It’s still all surreal to me. I can’t believe how big he is.”
Anthony’s full, first-person recount of the story will appear in a future edition of North American Whitetail magazine.