Scott Hove Buck: 212-Inch Wisconsin Bruiser
June 30, 2014
Like many other folks, Wisconsin's Scott Hove is really into big bucks. Over the years I've interviewed many other avid hunters, but Scott's more obsessed with trophy deer than anyone else
Many obsessive people are successful in part because of the amount of time they put into their chosen activity. That's definitely the case with Scott. While some other hunters find themselves in the right place at the right time to shoot one big buck, he keeps taking them. He's consistently in the right place at the right time.
"I have over a thousand game camera flash cards," he says. "I'm always checking cameras, moving cameras and studying pictures to better understand the bucks I'm chasing."
Each year, Scott and his son, Nathan, develop a "hit list" of bucks they hope to get a crack at. During the last several years, the bucks on their list have consistently ended up on the wall. Like a private investigator studying a suspect from afar, Scott zeroes in on the bucks he wants without their knowing he's watching.
Going into the fall of 2013, at the top of the hit list was a buck Scott knew scored over 200 inches.
"A couple years ago, I arrowed a buck that scored 181 5/8," Scott says. "After I shot that one, this bigger buck moved in. My son almost got him in 2012, but it didn't happen. After the 2012 season, we had pictures of the monster on a trail camera. He had made it through the season. To say my son and I were excited is an understatement."
When the buck showed up on camera after the season, he was missing an antler. Over the next 10 days, he reappeared on that camera every day.
"Eventually he showed up missing both antlers, so we set out to find his sheds. We hoped that by finding the sheds we could figure out the buck's travel pattern," Scott explains.
After a few hours of shed hunting, the Hoves found the right side of the rack. It scored a whopping 90 2/8 inches. But day and day of looking for the left antler proved frustrating.
"We were hoping to find both sides, because we thought it would help us figure the buck out," Scott notes. "But eventually we gave up hope that we would find the left side of the rack."
By July the buck was again showing up on trail camera, giving the Hoves renewed hope. He was hanging around with another buck that was also on the list. Buck No. 1 was the real prize, though: the 200-incher wasn't just massive but also had tons of character, including a large unicorn point jutting from alongside the base of the left antler! Scott and Nathan nicknamed this unique giant the "lucky draw" buck.
Throughout the summer, the big buck and his buddy showed up on scouting camera repeatedly. "We got dozens of pictures of the buck, and I was really hoping that one of us would tag him early in the bow season," Scott says. "However, very early the bucks disappeared. They'd become nocturnal."
For weeks on end, Scott saw no sign of the bucks. So in the middle of October, he started to scout a broader area. He went on long hikes and eventually found several new rubs on another ridge.
While observing the rubs, Scott looked down and saw something he'd been looking for: the missing shed from the "lucky draw" buck. After 10 months of looking, there it was!
"It was a little chewed up, but not all that bad," Scott says. Putting it with the other shed, the Hoves now knew for sure the buck had been over 200 inches.
Finding this second antler and fresh rubs helped the hunters finally start making sense of the puzzle. "My son and I spent a couple hours on the phone after I found the second shed," Scott recalls. "We put our heads together to really figure out this buck. When all was said and done, we thought we had him figured out and we put a plan together."
Scott and Nathan decided to hang a new stand setup, and they found a perfect location. The problem would be one of access. To get there quietly would require getting permission to cross a neighbor's land.
"Many hunters were chasing this buck, and several hunters were hunting the same land my son and I were," Scott says. " One of the people hunting the buck was my neighbor I needed permission from to get to my stand quietly. He said I couldn't use his land to access the parcel I was hunting. So the only choice I had was to walk across a large corn field.
"The corn was up, and it was very noisy," Scott says. "I knew the only way I was going to get to my stand quietly was by cutting the leaves off a row of corn."
Scott asked the farmer who owned the field if he could clip all of the leaves from an entire row of corn, to allow him to access the stand without making a lot of noise. The farmer said he could.
"It was an enormous amount of work," Scott remembers. "I had to clip the leaves off every stalk the entire length of a field which was over 100 acres. I left all the corn on the stalks and just cut the leaves. By doing so, I could slip through the standing corn without making a sound."
And it worked. On Nov. 3, Nathan was able to slip down that cleared lane, get into the stand and shoot the 160-incher that had been hanging out with the "lucky draw" buck. Scott had hoped his son would tag the bigger deer, but since he'd shot the other one, the elder Hove decided to focus his efforts on killing the monster himself.
"My son told me to go get the big buck," Scott notes. "That was all I needed to hear."
While hunting in the new stand, Nathan had discovered that the deer seemed to be walking a new trail they hadn't used before. "There have always been a couple trails in this area, and we knew they were 20 and 25 yards away from our stand," Scott says. "The new trail was 35 yards from the stand. That bit of information really helped me."
Scott felt hunting pressure had altered the buck's normal pattern a bit. "The stand was located right in a doe bedding area. It was a good thing we trimmed the corn, so I could sneak in without any noise," he says.
A Special Challenge
Scott has Type 1 diabetes, so he must take insulin. And not just a little: seven shots daily! The condition causes all kinds of problems. He's often in pain and can't sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. It's safe to say sitting in a tree stand all day is an extremely tall task. But Scott knew that if he wanted the "lucky draw" buck, he might have to do just that.
"On Nov. 7, 2013, I decided to hunt all day," he says. "The weather and the wind were right, so I settled in." He arrived at his spot at 5:30 a.m.
"Early in the sit I saw a few deer, but not many. Most of the day was very quiet, which can make hunting difficult. At 4 p.m., the 'lucky draw' buck showed up on the 20-yard trail. We call that the Lucky Buck mineral trail, because that's where we often keep deer mineral on the ground.
"As quickly as he came to the trail, he started moving away. I thought to myself, 'I'm not going to get a shot at him!' Instead of leaving, he moved to the 35-yard trail my son had talked about. Knowing he was on that trail, I put my 35-yard pin on him and let the arrow fly. I made a good hit, and I killed the 'lucky draw' buck."
The 7 1/2-year-old monster's rack is indeed unique. It ended up with a great net score of 212 5/8 non-typical, thanks to 40 inches of mass, 27 6/8-inch main beams, split brow tines and that 12 6/8-inch "unicorn" point.
"I always thought the 181-inch buck I killed a couple years ago was a buck of a lifetime, but this one truly is a buck of a lifetime," Scott says. "It's special because of his size and because killing him truly was a team effort. My son Nathan helped every step of the way."
The chances of father and son killing both bucks on their hit list were low. And had the big non-typical not been taking in '13, he might not have been around next season.
"The buck had lost a ton of weight during the rut, maybe as much as 40 pounds," Scott notes. "He only had four teeth in his mouth. It doesn't appear he could eat any more. I don't think the buck could have made it through winter."
The Hoves live in a great state for trophy bucks, and luck perhaps played a role in last year's success. But at the end of the day, you have to give credit where credit is due. Scott has limited finances, a fair number of physical issues and no land of his own. The odds are against him. Only his obsession with big bucks helps swing them back the other way.
Scott scouts throughout the year. And he does everything he can to help the deer, including using Lucky Buck mineral. With landowner permission, in winter he drives through fields and food plots to break the snow's crust, so deer can more easily reach the food underneath. He's even raked a path down to bare dirt over a full mile to one of his stands, just so his walk in will be silent. The man goes the extra mile — literally.
In an age in which the guy with the deepest pockets and most land often kills the biggest buck, it's refreshing to see an average Joe come out on top by using extra elbow grease, spending more time in the woods and embracing old-fashioned teamwork.
Caught on Camera
Amazingly, when Scott shot his 181 5/8-inch Wisconsin buck back in 2011, he captured the kill on trail camera video.
And Scott didn't even know the camera was recording. "I'd placed a scouting camera over a Lucky Buck mineral site, and when the buck came to eat the mineral, I shot him," he says. "The camera started recording video as the buck approached the mineral site. It couldn't have been timed any better even if I'd tried."
This might be the largest buck kill ever recorded on trail camera video. Check it out: