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This One's For You, Dad!

This One's For You, Dad!

After his father passed away during Thanksgiving week in 2006, Bob Cuozzo sensed that something good might happen during hunting season that would honor his father's memory. Sure enough, Bob ended up shooting a great buck in Pennsylvania. But it didn't end there. A few days later, he brought down New York's best buck of the 2006 season!

Bob Cuozzo poses with his long-tined New York megabuck. The main-frame 6x6 had a total of 19 points and netted 209 6/8 non-typical.

After Bob Cuozzo shot his Pennsylvania trophy, the whole thing felt eerily connected to the death of his dad. But something told Bob that bigger and better things awaited him in his home state of New York as well. As it turned out, his intuition was right!

Bob is originally from the great hunting state of Pennsylvania. He started hunting there at the tender age of 12. It took him nine years to shoot his first buck, but from that time until now, Bob has taken 73 bucks! Bob lives in Pine City, New York, near the Pennsylvania border. He's hunted both states regularly for years, and he's killed big-racked and big-bodied bucks in both places. He's an avid hunter, and he makes use of every opportunity to hunt the various archery, shotgun, rifle and muzzleloader seasons that are available. He also loves to bowhunt for elk in Colorado.


Bob's dad hunted when he was younger, but his spare time was limited while Bob was growing up. Prior to the 2006 season, Bob's dad had been in a nursing home for three years battling Parkinson's disease. Bob visited him every day during the week and often took him for long rides until his health worsened.


Bob loved his father dearly, and he'll tell you that he owes his dad a great deal. You see, Bob was actually adopted at the age of 8 by his aunt and uncle. At the time, both relatives took on the responsibility of raising him as their own, and to Bob they've always been "Mom and Dad." While Bob certainly felt a sense of sadness when his dad passed away on the Monday before Thanksgiving, he also felt very grateful for the time they had shared together.

THE BEST SEASON EVER


On Wednesday, Dec. 6, plans were set for an early morning drive on a farm that Bob and his friends had hunted many times before in Chemung County. Bob planned to get a flu shot early and then meet his hunting group of five buddies at about 8:30 a.m. They had intended to do two drives that day, but as things turned out, the first one would be more than enough!

The first area the group decided to push was relatively small. It consisted of a brush lot and pine grove. Bob was one of three standers, while two other friends would make the push. Bob sat on a ridge where he had a good view of the entire area. About 10 minutes after the drive started, he saw two deer coming toward him. As they ran up the side of the ridge headed in his direction, he could see that one definitely was a doe.


Both deer stopped about 45 yards below his position, but he could not see the second deer clearly. Suddenly both deer turned and looked down the hill. Bob could now make out antlers, but he couldn't tell how big the buck was. Then the doe started to walk off to the right. Assuming that the buck would follow, Bob raised his brand-new Savage Model 210 12 gauge and held on an opening in the trees.

As the buck walked into the scope's field of view, Bob saw horns. He instinctively took the shot. After the blast, both deer disappeared. Figuring the deer might run into a nearby cornfield located behind his position, Bob quickly ran over in that direction to see if he could spot them. He waited about five minutes, but nothing turned up, so he went back to where he had taken the shot.

A ONE-OF-A-KIND WHITETAIL

By this time, the drive was over. The others joined Bob as he went down to the spot where the two deer had been standing. Following in the direction he thought the deer had run after the shot, he saw no blood, no hair and no sign whatsoever.

Bob was greatly disappointed. But being an experienced hunter, he knew he had to keep his cool and continue to search. He went another 15 yards, calmly looking for sign, but still he found nothing. Then a mere 15 paces later, Bob spotted his buck! The first thing he saw was a huge set of antlers rising up from the ground. Bob was amazed at how big the rack was. He immediately thought of his dad.

As he and his friends looked over the 22-point New York giant, Bob wasn't able to fully comprehend just how big his deer actually was. The other hunters seemed to be far more impressed. Despite their enthusiasm, however, in Bob's case it took a long time for the full impact to sink in.

After getting the buck out of the woods and back to the barn, Bob took the trophy over to show a neighbor. Bob discovered that the neighbor had seen the buck several times. He told Bob that the buck had been tearing up trees on his property. The man had even seen the buck while walking his dog. Later, after photos of the great buck got out on the Internet, and after word spread around town about Bob's amazing achievement, Bob learned that another neighbor had three years' worth of sheds, all from the left side.

Bob also found that one of his hunting partners had taken photos of the buck the previous summer! Unlike most mature bucks, it appeared that this one-of-a-kind buck had not been at all bashful about showing himself during the year and actually had been quite visible throughout the community.

Bob took the trophy to his taxidermist the next day. The taxidermist put him in touch with New York State Big Buck Club scorer Merritt Compton. Merritt green-scored the massive rack at 212 inches gross and 206 4/8 inches net. Later in early 2007, measurers from the NYSBBC, the Northeast Big Buck Club, and B&C got together at the Turning Stone Sportsman's Show in Verona, New York, to panel-score the deer and submit the final score to all three organizations.

AN IMPRESSIVE SCORE

With a gross B&C score of 215 3/8 inches and a net score after deductions of 209 6/8 inches, the Cuozzo buck is one of New York's biggest bucks of all time. The great rack has a 6x6 typical frame complemented by 7 abnormal points -- 3 on the right and 4 on the left.

Bob's unique trophy actually qualifies for the all-time B&C record book as both a typical and a non-typical. If scored as a typical, it grosses 194 3/8 inches, but the net typical score takes a real beating because of the 21 inches in abnormal growth. So Bob wisely decided to enter this great buck as a non-typical. The most striking features of the eye-catching rack are tine length and mass. While the inside spread is relatively narrow at 16 6/8 inches, four of the long tines measure over 12 inches in length. Exceptional mass and 21 inches in abnormal growth contribute

d to the net non-typical score of 209 6/8.

According to the latest New York State Big Buck Club record book, the Cuozzo trophy ranks No. 7 all time (tied) in the non-typical category. Homer Boylan's historic buck, taken in 1939 in Allegany County, still stands as New York's No. 1 non-typical, with a score of 244 2/8.

The Northeast Big Buck Club reports that Bob's buck is the highest-gross-scoring buck killed in New York in the last 15 years. The club also reports that Bob's buck was the highest-gross-scoring whitetail taken by a hunter in the entire Northeast (including all of New England and New York) in 2006.

As a long-time whitetail hunter, Bob is thrilled with and thankful for the results of his extraordinary 2006 season. Deep down inside, he knows his dad would be, too!

(Editor's Note: For more information about the Northeast Big Buck Club or to purchase a copy of the club's stunning new hard-cover record book -- Northeast Trophy Whitetails V -- call 508-752-8762 or visit www.bigbuckclub.com. You can also email jbhunts@aol.com. For information on the New York State Big Buck Club, visit www.nys-big-buck.org.)

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