Hunting a farm that had produced two other Boone & Crockett deer for family members, including a 195-inch bruiser 13 years prior taken by his father, Zach Gadberry topped them all with his 209 1/8-inch Missouri trophy buck.
Like father, like son...or at least that's what Zach Gadberry hoped as he set atop a Putnam County, Missouri ridge, overlooking a gully that had produced big bucks for his family in prior seasons. In 1998, Zach's father took a 195 5/8-inch buck that became the family benchmark. Zach was with his dad when he took Mr. 195, too young to hunt, but old enough to remember spotting the big deer and watching his father put it on the ground thinking someday he'd like to do something similar.
While he thought it was his turn, luck hadn't been kind over the last couple years. Looking for "the one" Gadberry, who owns an auto body shop in Unionville, hadn't put a buck on the ground for the past three seasons. He had a shot at 180 class buck last year during muzzleloader season, but missed from 150 yards, the victim of a scope that wouldn't hold zero.
And entering into the second day of Missouri's rifle season, he wasn't sure the conditions were favorable for any kind of success. A persistent wind was out of the south at 20 mph and the temps hovered in the low sixties, great for fall football, but near trauma-inducing for deer hunters.
Regardless, Gadberry and friend Jeff Ryals sprayed themselves with Dead Down Wind and headed to the spot his dad struck bonegold 13 years earlier. The plan was to sit atop their perch until an unaware buck got up from an afternoon siesta in the tall switch grass that flooded the gully.
The buck featured 15 scorable points and netted 209 1/8 inches non-typical, better than his dad's by 14! And after getting a closer look at his buck, he realized it was the 180 he'd missed last year, only now the buck carried a lot more up top. Gadberry would later find out that a neighbor, a mile to the south, had trail cam pictures of the buck all year long.
Congrats on a fantastic buck Zack!
"They always just stand up and once they do, they're in range," shared Gadberry.
Around 4:15 p.m., the pair of hunters spotted a doe getting up and shortly after, horns, lots of them, got up as well.
"He went up to her and was kind of bumping her. She started down the draw right towards us€¦he looked huge in my binoculars!"
Gadberry shouldered his Savage Model 11 chambered in .308 and patiently waited for broadside, which arrived seconds later. The Federal Gold Premium round flew through the north central Missouri air and found its mark.
The buck ran 75 yards, towards the top of a small hill and just as it crested, its heart gave way to a topple, piling up to Gadberry's delight.
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