December 12, 2023
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Travis Caringer was surprised for two reasons when a giant non-typical showed up on his trail camera this summer. The first reason was that he was in an area not known for big bucks. A 140-class buck in this area is considered a great one. Second, he had no history with this deer.
The buck seemingly appeared from nowhere and began hanging out on Travis’ 700-acre farm in central Missouri. This part of the state is largely Ozark timber. There is limited cropland, so the deer mostly feed on acorns, fescue and clover.
Travis knew this was a very special buck that he wanted to focus his attention on. After studying his trail camera pictures, he figured the buck would score 190 inches. When archery season rolled around, a mature 8-pointer that proved more dominant than the non-typical arrived, and he continued to run the non-typical off. Fortunately for Travis, he was able to harvest the big 8-point with his bow, which allowed the non-typical buck to move back into the area. While hunting in Ohio, pictures of the buck on the farm began to increase. Needless to say, Travis was anxious to get home and hunt this deer.
On the morning of Nov. 11, the opening day of Missouri’s rifle season, Travis headed to his stand; but he backed out when he saw that deer were already in the field. Early that afternoon, he climbed 22 feet up into a white oak and settled into his stand for the evening sit. With his 6.5 Grendel in hand, Travis prepared for a shot opportunity.
Soon after, and not more than 100 yards from public ground, the giant non-typical stepped out with five does. At 200 yards, Travis was more than confident he could make the shot. Though he felt calm, when looking back, he rushed the shot more than he needed to.
After taking the shot, Travis couldn’t find a single drop of blood on the ground. Wanting to do everything he could to find this buck or determine that he had missed, he made multiple loops where he thought the buck might be. His further tracking efforts didn’t yield anything, leaving him mentally defeated. He considered hiring a guy with a drone to come look for his buck, but that was going to cost him $500. Ultimately, before doing so, some longtime friends offered to help him search for the non-typical.
With the help of 13-year-old Mason Blanford, they located the buck not far from where Travis had last seen him, in a pile of thick scrub brush. That’s when the celebration began! It turned out that Travis made an excellent shot, the buck just bled internally and then piled up in the thicket where it was hard to locate him.
Travis’ opening day buck green scores 202 inches and has a chance of netting above the Boone and Crockett all-time book minimum of 195 inches. What makes this even more impressive, is that the buck was tooth-aged at just 4 1/2 years old!