Richard Buker: 170-Inch Indiana Bruiser

Hunter: Richard Buker

State/County: Indiana/Vermillion County

Score: Estimated 170 inches, awaiting official score

Gear: Mathews Outback bow, Beeman ICS 340 arrows, Montec T3 broadhead, Nikon Action binoculars, Tru-Fire X-Caliper release, Trophy Taker rest, Montana Black Gold sight, Tree Spider harness.

For Rich Buker of Clinton, Ind., bowhunting isn't just about taking a trophy animal — it's about a lifestyle, tradition and countless hours of dedicated labor.

Buker — who's spent the last 20 years hunting on his family's property in Vermillion County — has devoted himself to improving a deer population that was once less than impressive. He's run trail cameras, planted and maintained food plots, hung stands, and tracked whitetails for years. And after an enormous amount of toil, Buker finally has the trophy buck to make it all worthwhile.

On Oct. 28, Buker crossed paths with a buck he'd been tracking on camera for nearly five years — a 170-inch monster that until now had eluded him. On a windy evening he thought about getting down from his stand and calling it a night. He'd even tied a drop line to his bow in preparation for the descent. But then the wind died and he decided to hang around for a bit longer. Funny the way it is.

It was a fateful decision, as he soon eyed a massive buck working the treeline and then headed across the field toward him. At 35 yards, he stopped the buck with a grunt, placed his shot perfectly behind the shoulder and squeezed off a shot. The biggest buck he'd shot in his life ran 75 yards and then dropped within sight.

When he made it to the buck, Buker said he "was jumping around thanking God for such a great buck. I immediately collected myself, pulled out my iPhone and snapped some pictures before I ever laid hands on the deer." He couldn't believe what lay before him, after all the toil and patience.

As it turns out, persistence wins the day.

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