As a young boy, Brian Inda's family introduced him to the outdoors. Brian remembered his grandpa Marty picking him and his older brother Chris up from school to go play in the woods. His father, Jim Inda, also started bringing Brian along on deer hunts at a young age. Through the years, Brian grew, and so did his love of hunting.
Brian had always dreamed of killing a big buck. Little did he know that one day he would shoot a buck that would rewrite the Wisconsin whitetail record books. Early last November, while bowhunting with his hunting partner, Craig Carpenter, in Wild Rose, Wisconsin, Brian did just that.
Like most serious bowhunters today, Brian and Craig enjoy spending as much time in the woods as they can. The spring of 2010 was not much different, except this spring Brian had been clued in on a particularly large buck in the vicinity of his hunting ground. A few friends with whom Brian played softball had targeted the buck during the previous season, and they even showed him their trail camera photos of the buck.
"I had seen trail camera pictures of the buck and knew it was a monster," Brian said. He was surprised to learn that no one had located the sheds off the buck. Brian knew the core area in which the deer lived, and he was also familiar with some of the farms in the buck's wintering area. Brian's brother, Chris, talked with one of the local landowners and secured permission for them to shed hunt one of the farms. Brian and Chris made plans to look for sheds with their uncle Tony.
It didn't take Chris and Tony long to find their first big shed of the day. It was clearly from the big buck.
"They found it on the edge of a cut bean field," Brian said. They called Brian and soon he looking for the other side of the rack with them. "We found several other sheds, but not the other side to the big one."
Meanwhile, Tyler Detjens, another friend, had called and was near the road. They trio went to pick him up so he could join in the search. As luck would have it, while parking the truck, Tyler spotted the match to the big buck. The other side was lying in a grassy opening almost 600 yards away from the first one. The group was ecstatic.
BAD LUCK TURNED GOOD
After the group found the sheds, Brian asked permission to hunt the farm. Unfortunately the farm was already being hunted by the landowner's family members.
"It was kind of disappointing, but it didn't hurt to ask," said Brian. The rest of the summer was business as usual for Brian and Craig, who work together as carpenters. They were doing a remodeling job for Gary Nelson, who manages properties for a local Christmas tree company that had several hunting leases in the area. Brian and Craig often talked about deer hunting with Gary.
One day while the two were working, Gary approached them and said the group of Illinois hunters who leased a nearby overgrown Christmas tree plantation for rifle season had let their lease go. Brian and Craig both knew the lease site. It was near the farm where they had located the big sheds. They immediately said they would be interested in leasing it.
Gary said he needed to check to make sure the group really didn't want to lease it, and a few weeks later he showed up with some paper work. The 120-acre lease was theirs if they wanted it.
"We were excited," Brian said. "We had hunted together several times before, but now we had a place that was just ours."
PLAYING IT SAFE
As August arrived, Brian and Craig were running out of time to get things ready for the upcoming bow season. The two of them looked over the property and discussed strategies for hunting the area. The 120-acre Christmas tree farm was really open. Most of the land was overgrown grass with spruce trees scattered throughout it. This left only a few areas to hunt: two small five-acre wood lots and a brushy, oak-filled ravine they called "the sanctuary."
The sanctuary was a thick, steep edge that ran along the area with the spruce trees and connected the two small wood lots. Since the sanctuary was so hard to enter without bumping deer, they strategically set up their stands. They placed two in the oaks and one closer to the sanctuary. Then also set two observation stands they could hunt from over looking the more open spruce.
"It was a very difficult parcel to hunt because the deer seemed to just wander in the open areas," Brian recalled, but the observation stands were "good starting points" to see how the deer moved through the area.
"We didn't want to pressure the deer too hard at first," Brian said. The land had only been hunted during the rifle season. "We knew in the past the deer had not been pressured during the bow season, and we wanted to keep it that way."
A ROUGH START
September had come and gone. Brian and Craig had been hunting hard but still playing it safe and hunting stands only when the wind permitted.
"I was starting to get frustrated," Brian said. "We hadn't seen any sign that the big buck was using the property. I had other spots I could have been hunting that had big bucks, and felt like I was wasting my time." Brian's brother told him to consider just how big the buck was that he was chasing. The sheds had scored 192 inches. Chris reminded him it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Then a late October windstorm changed Craig and Brian's mind. While they were looking for a ground blind that the wind had blown away, Brian and Craig jumped the big typical buck.
"It went running up over a hill and we followed it with the truck," said Brian. They watched it run off through the woods toward a neighboring property. It wasn't until then that Brian thought they might have spooked the buck enough that he wouldn't return. The two decided to quit looking for the blind.
"We didn't want to risk messing up the area any more," Brian said. Now they knew the big buck was at least on the property from time to time. They hoped they had not ruined it, but farmers often bump deer with their trucks and machines. "We figured that the deer would come back," he said. Leaving the woods scent-free seemed like a better plan than looking for the blind.
November 2 seemed like an ordinary Tuesday. Craig and Brian were eager to hunt, and the pre-rut activity was picking up. The weather forecast was good, and Craig and Brian agreed to take off from work a little early so they could get in an evening hunt. Since seeing the buck they had been really careful only to hunt when the wind conditions were right. Tonight the winds were good for a couple of their stands.
Craig was to hunt the lone oak stand, and Brian was going to sit in the box elder stand. "The stand was hard to get into without bumping deer," Brian said. "I'd bump deer about half the time I walked into it."
Brian also didn't have much faith in the stand. He had made a mock scrape there earlier in the season and the deer had kept it open, but the tree left him almost completely exposed. "There was very little room for error, and I had been busted in that tree several times by other deer," Brian said. "I really didn't think a big buck would come that way."
AN UNEXPECTED EVENING
Brian settled into the box elder stand with plenty on his mind. He knew the hunt was going to be a short one. He planned on getting down a little early this evening to pay his respects to Dave Dasson, a fellow hunter and avid outdoorsman who had passed away from cancer. Dave was a close friend of the Inda family, and he was also a passionate deer hunter. Lots of thoughts cross your mind as you pass the time in a deer stand, and this evening was no different for Brian. The wind was blowing out of the southeast -- perfect for the tree he was in. The first hour went by with thoughts of his friend and everyday life going through his head.
Suddenly, he thought he heard a deer walking in the leaves. The sound was just far enough away that he couldn't be sure.
"I was pretty sure it was a deer," Brian said. "So I pulled out my grunt tube and grunted loud. It was breezy, so I wanted the deer to hear it."
After several minutes had passed, Brian was thinking he might have grunted at a squirrel. Five minutes later, he looked to the northeast and saw antlers moving behind a spruce tree.
"I knew it was him!" Brian said. The deer walked in and opened up the mock scrape 32 yards away. "It was facing toward me and posturing and licking. The buck came in thinking another buck was there."
The monster buck kept looking past Brian where the earlier sounds of leaves rustling had come from. He started moving and was now following a trail that looped behind Brian's stand where there were no shooting lanes. Brian drew his Darton bow and waited.
"He was about 14 yards away," he recalled. "It was thick and I picked a hole. When he hit the hole I released." The buck took off, plowing through the thick brush. Brian lost sight of it but heard a crash just seconds later. He had just shot the buck they had been chasing all year!
Brian was rattled. He wasn't sure what to do. If he waited he would miss his friend's visitation. He quickly called his father and his brother. They were both at the wake for their family friend. They told Brian to stay put. Dave would have understood because he had been an avid deer hunter himself. He then called Craig and waited 30 minutes to get down and recover his blood-soaked arrow. It looked like the Carbon Express arrow and two-blade Rage broadhead had hit their mark.
Brian backed out until his crew arrived to help. After a five minute tracking job, the group stood over the monster typical. The buck had only gone 70 yards.
NEW WISCONSIN TYPICAL BOW RECORD
On January 15, 2011, after the required 60-day drying period, a panel of certified measurers representing the Wisconsin Buck and Bear Club officially scored the Brian Inda buck. The panel consisted of Wil Resch, Steve Ashley, Dave Bathke and Stan Zirbel.
Together they scored the buck at 187 5/8 inches, making it Wisconsin's new typical archery record. Brian's buck is 3/8 of an inch larger than the Barry Rose buck, which had held the state record since 2006.
The rack had 12 scorable points, five on the right antler and seven on the left.
The buck had an inside spread of 22 inches, and the longest tine was 14 7/8 inches long. Three other tines measured more than 12 inches. The main beams each topped 26 inches long. The overall gross typical score was 197 5/8 inches.
This buck was truly a giant. The hard work that both Craig and Brian put in had paid off.