Although he had seen this world-class buck once in 2006 and even captured it on video, Joel Eggers never really expected to see the Illinois giant again. But you can never say never, and last October their paths crossed one more time.
Around 5:10 p.m. a doe slipped up on me and started walking by at about 20 yards. She was acting very antsy, so I turned around and started looking in the direction from which she had come. All at once I spotted a huge set of antlers coming through the brush. One quick glimpse was all it took. I immediately knew it was the Brow Tine Buck!
It all started on July 9, 2006, on a piece of private property in southern Illinois. I was watching a pair of 2 1/2-year-old bucks feeding in a bean field on a warm, muggy evening. All of a sudden, out stepped an absolutely huge 10-point buck about 150 yards to my left. The buck, which started feeding on some beans, had a rack so massive that the minute I saw him all I could think of was giving him the nickname of "bones." Later I would change that nickname to "the Brow Tine Buck."
I had been videotaping the two smaller bucks, and I immediately turned the camera on the buck with the head full of bone to get some footage of his huge typical 10-point rack. Even though the light was poor because it was late in the evening, I kept the camera rolling. Through the viewfinder, I could see that this buck's right brow tine was long and split much like a shed I had picked up 1 1/2 years earlier.
The three bucks eventually became nervous and left the field. The video turned out to be a little blurry, but you could tell the big 10-pointer was a giant buck. I honestly never expected to see the Brow Tine Buck again. And I didn't until the following year in October.
On March 7, 2007, I was out shed hunting when I stumbled upon a huge left-side 5-point shed scoring over 90 inches. I looked hard for an hour or two for the matching side with no luck. I went out to the same area about two weeks later. Unbelievably, I found the opposite side, containing the very distinguishing split brow tine, within 250 yards of where I had found the first antler. It scored over 90 inches including the abnormal point behind the right brow tine. I knew I now had last year's matched set of sheds from the Brow Tine Buck, and I knew he was a world-class whitetail. I also had a single shed from him found two years earlier in March '05.
IS HE STILL OUT THERE?
After going the whole summer of 2007 without seeing him again, I wondered if he was still alive. The "gnat" disease, EHD (epizootic hemorrhagic disease), hit the entire Midwest hard in late summer last year and took its toll on quite a few deer in southern Illinois.
On my way home from work on the afternoon of Oct. 23, 2007, conditions were good to sit in my tree stand. It had been raining hard all day, but the rain had stopped and the wind was blowing briskly from the north as I arrived home around 4 p.m. I rushed to take a shower and get dressed and head for my stand. By 4:45 I was in the stand, putting on my release and getting ready. As I was settling in and getting my bow situated, I suddenly looked down and saw a 1 1/2-year-old 7-point buck not 10 yards from my stand. I slowly put on my facemask, and he turned, waved his tail and trotted off.
Five minutes later a yearling doe came bounding through the area, acting very rambunctious and nervous. Then things settled down for a few minutes, and I finally got settled in for what I thought would be a good 1 1/2-hour hunt until dark.
MORE AFTERNOON ACTION
Around 5:10 p.m., a doe slipped up on me and started walking by at about 20 yards. She was acting very antsy, so I turned around and started looking in the direction from which she had come. All at once I spotted a huge set of antlers coming through the brush. One quick glimpse was all it took. I immediately knew it was the Brow Tine Buck! He was about 70 yards away when I first saw him, but he was coming toward me at a steady pace. I instinctively stood up and picked up my Hoyt bow.
In all the excitement, I had totally forgotten that the doe was feeding only 20 yards away. As I turned toward the buck, I tried to be as smooth as possible, but the doe saw me nonetheless. As soon as I saw her staring in my direction, I froze.
I was hoping that as the buck got a little closer, he would get her attention so that I could continue to move into position for the shot. After a few moments it worked, and she looked back toward the buck. She then took a few steps forward and started to feed on honeysuckle.
By then the buck was about 40 yards away and still coming through the brush at a steady pace. I tried to make sure that all of my gear was positioned correctly. This helped me stay concentrated on the shot instead of the buck's enormous antlers. I knew that I was about to get the shot of a lifetime, but I tried not to let it dominate my thoughts, and I kept thinking: Don't blow it!
Soon he stepped out from behind a tree and the heavy brush at about 20 yards. He was walking slowly and pushing steadily toward the doe. Suddenly he was in a shooting lane. I'll never forget that sight. I remember seeing his huge muscular neck and back, still wet from the afternoon rain. Without thinking, I was at full draw. I grunted one, two, three times . . . but he still pressed forward slowly, and once again he went behind some heavy brush.
WHEN INSTINCT TAKES OVER
I was still at full draw when he stepped out in another shooting lane 18 yards away. I let out a loud grunt, and this time he stopped. I settled in with my 20-yard pin behind the shoulder, and -- smack! -- the arrow buried into his ribs. I could see about 8 inches of arrow and fletching still sticking out. He took off like an old bull -- slow but hard. His feet dug into the soft ground, but he hit the ground with such force that I could feel it. I will never forget that sound. Then the sound of the heavy thuds of running hooves heading into the wind quickly grew fainter. After that, total silence.
The hit was a little farther back then I had intended, but since he'd been quartering away, I felt good about the shot. I got down and waited near my tree for about 20 minutes. Then I walked over to the spot where he'd been standing and found plenty of blood. I decided to follow his trail ever so slowly, and I continued to find lots of blood. I followed the blood trail for about 150 yards, and several times I wondered: How much blood can this mammoth buck lose?
A few more steps and there he was, lying on the ground not 10 yards in front of me, fully expired. I crept up to him and knelt down. I picked up his giant rack and said a little prayer. The Brow Tine Buck, the buck I had seen only one time and never really expected to see again, had finally given me the opportunity of a l
ifetime. I had always known he was out there, or at least I had hoped he was still out there, and now I couldn't believe that I had been lucky enough to be able to pull off the 18-yard shot!
His body size was like that of no other whitetail I had ever seen. My thoughts now turned to the practical: How will I ever get this giant out of the woods? I immediately called my dad, Doug Eggers. Dad was able to get off work that day, and he helped me drag the 300-pound monster out of the woods. When we arrived home I sent out a picture to a few friends, and pretty soon the phone was ringing off the hook.
AN ILLINOIS HEAVYWEIGHT
Within 20 minutes, friends and family started showing up at the house. It was all an awesome and unforgettable adventure. I'm so lucky to have good family and friends, and having them there that day to share the special occasion makes the memory of my hunt that much more special.
On Jan. 26, 2008, I had the buck officially scored by well-known Illinois B&C scorer Tim Walmsley. The huge rack grossed 208 7/8 and netted 190 6/8 typical points. As a main-frame 5x5, my buck had that one abnormal brow point coming out of his right burr that was 5 inches long. He also had an unusually high 13 1/8 inches in side-to-side deductions. His right main beam was almost 5 inches shorter than the left.
The irregularity was probably caused by either an injury while in velvet or a parasite that had penetrated the rack when it was in velvet at the point where the right G-4 grows out of the main beam. This caused a swelling in the beam at that point, and it ultimately affected the length of the right main beam which measured 4 5/8 inches shorter than the left main beam. If that problem had not existed, and if the right main beam been more equal to the left, my buck might easily have netted around 200 typical points!
In spite of the irregularity, though, both G-2s and G-3s measured over 13 inches, and the inside spread measured 22 6/8 inches. I couldn't have been happier or more excited about the final score. This buck is what every whitetail hunter dreams about, and for me to have gotten an 18-yard shot on such a magnificent whitetail was amazing. It was definitely a heart-stopping rush like none other I have ever experienced in my life!
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
As mentioned in our July issue, shortly after Joel Eggers arrowed his amazing buck, rumors began to circulate that he might have taken a new world-record typical by bow, beating Mel Johnson's long-standing 1965 record buck scoring 204 4/8 points (also taken in Illinois). And with a gross typical score of 208 7/8, Joel's buck might have done it, if not for the 5-inch abnormal brow point and the main-beam differences mentioned above.
According to official measurer Tim Walmsley, "This rack is huge. It definitely would have given Mel Johnson's rack a run for its money as a 10-point if it hadn't had those problems. And at 23, Joel Eggers is a deserving big-buck hunter who is way ahead of his time. Having those sheds makes the entire story that much more awesome!"
Joel knows how very close he came to rubbing shoulders with a world record, but he certainly has no regrets. He is thrilled beyond belief with his achievement and he is still floating on clouds!