Ohio's crossbow season has been yielding big results for deer hunters in the Buckeye State each year, and the 2007 season certainly continued that trend.
Ohio's first crossbow season was held in 1976. By 1989, crossbows had become so popular among Ohio deer hunters that they took the lead from vertical bows (longbows, recurves, compounds) in the number of deer harvested during archery season. That trend continues to this day, with the total archery kill in the state averaging 55 percent by crossbow, compared to 45 percent by vertical bow.
Taken on Nov. 9, 2007, Jason Fizer's "split-tine" buck was a huge main-frame 6x6 with two additional abnormal points. The long-tined Adams County bruiser netted 191 2/8 non-typical points.
With that popularity and Ohio's proclivity for producing record-book bucks, it's no wonder that many of Ohio's giant whitetails are taken by hunters using the horizontal bow. Here's a look at three of the Buckeye State's top bucks taken with a crossbow in 2007.
JASON FIZER'S SPLIT-TINE BUCK
Adams County has a reputation for producing big racks, and it came as no surprise that one of the state's top bucks in 2007 came from this rural southwestern county along the Ohio River. The deer was a big 14-point non-typical taken in the river hills near Manchester by Jason Fizer on Nov. 9, 2007. Jason had only been hunting for two years when he bagged his Adams County megabuck.
"My buddy Jesse Fisher talked me into going hunting with him on Thanksgiving Day in 2006," Jason said. "So I used his extra crossbow and ended up tagging a doe that first time out. That got me hooked."
Prior to the '07 bow season, Jason had purchased a secondhand Horton Crossbow for $150. He practiced with it daily.
"In 2006, I had found a big shed antler with an unusual split tine while walking out of the woods one evening," Jason said. "I hunted back in that same area again in early 2007 and didn't see anything."
Frustrated with not seeing any deer, Jason started thinking about looking for another location to place his stand in. The week before he tagged his record-book buck, he made up his mind to relocate. "While I was scouting for a new location, I heard a buck chasing a doe in the woods," Jason said. "I heard him grunt. So I dropped to my knees, got out my grunt call and answered his grunt.
The buck came straight toward me. He stopped in some brush about 20 yards away and started looking around. All I could see was his rack. After he spooked and took off, I ran over to where he'd been standing and noticed a 5- to 6-inch drop tine on his left beam as he was running away."
With a new infusion of confidence after finding some heavily used trails, scraps and rubs, and after seeing a large buck with a drop tine, Jason knew he'd found a good spot to hunt.
"I went back the next day and saw some does," Jason said. "I told Jesse that he needed to go with me the following weekend because I'd seen a nice buck that maybe one of us would get a shot at."
The following Friday, Nov. 9, Jason and Jesse were at their newly located tree stands early in the morning.
"Right at daybreak I saw a nice buck about 60 yards away," Jason said. "I tried grunting, but he wouldn't respond. Less than 15 minutes later I heard something behind me, and I stood up to look around the tree and saw another large buck."
In fact, a monster buck with a split G-3 on the right was 20 yards behind Jason and moving closer, turning broadside for the perfect shot.
"But I couldn't get a shot because of a big branch on the tree," Jason said. "So I moved the bow around to the other side. He made a few more steps forward and then I grunted at him."
Hearing the grunt, the old buck paused momentarily and put his head up, offering Jason a clear shot.
"He was so close and it happened so fast that I wasn't really sure where I hit him," Jason said. "I waited in my stand for over an hour."
After the long wait, Jason got down and walked quietly over to Jesse's stand. He gave his buddy the thumbs-up sign and softly said, "I got a good one."
Together, they tracked the split-tine buck for only 50 yards before finding him piled up. The arrow had passed cleanly through the heart.
"A good one?" Jesse blurted out. "This is the biggest buck I ever saw in the woods!"Jason's Adams County bruiser had been seen a number of times around the area during the fall of 2007.
"People often saw the buck crossing the highway," Jason said. "One landowner who saw him told me he counted seven points on one side. Even my mother saw him cross the road."
The split-tine buck was officially measured by Jason Schrock, who also scored the Amish buck in 2006. Despite an inside spread of only 16 inches, exceptional mass and long tines contributed to a net non-typical score of 191 2/8 inches.
THE TIM GRIGSBY TYPICAL
Another southwest Ohio brute, taken in Preble County on Nov. 9, is likely the largest typical harvested in the state with a crossbow during the '07 season. Tim Grigsby shot a huge 10-pointer that scored 180 2/8 typical B&C points.
"I don't get to hunt every weekend, but I try to take a week off during the rut," Tim said. "I also take off a couple of days during gun season. I had been hunting on leased land in Pike County, but I got switched over to the day shift and I didn't have any time off, so I didn't join the lease in 2007."
That turned out to be good luck for Tim, because a record-book buck was waiting for him just down the road from where he lives.
"This was the first time I'd ever hunted locally," said Tim. "I'd been driving by this farm for the past 12 years and I always thought it would be a great place to hunt, but I never asked for permission. But knowing I'd be hunting closer to home in 2007, I stopped by that farm three times to ask for permission to hunt, but the landowner was never home.
Then, by coincidence, he knocked on my door one day -- he was running for township trustee -- so I asked him if I could hunt, and he said yes. I traded a vote for a hunt. I couldn't have planned it any better!"
It was late October by the time Tim received permission to hunt on the farm, so he made one quick scouting trip and went
hunting the next day.
"I found a place I thought would be good and I hunted there three days," Tim said. "The second day, three guys come out on horseback and rode right under my tree stand. I never saw a deer."
Tim got called back to work at General Motors in Dayton and didn't get to hunt again until Nov. 9.
"That Friday, I got home at 4 p.m.," Tim continued. "I grabbed my stuff and went over to the farm. When I got there, somebody else was parked where I usually park and they were obviously hunting, so I didn't go in there."
Tim then drove around to the other side of the farm and parked in an open pasture on top of a hill.
"I went to a place I had never hunted before," he said. "It was windy that afternoon, with gusts blowing in all directions, and it was late. So I left my climber in the truck and went in on foot. I was hunting near a thick, dried-up creek bottom grown up in saplings and honeysuckle with some old 4-wheeler trails going through it."
Tim hiked about 150 yards into the thicket, following one of the old trails. He walked up a steep hillside and found a spot up the hill behind a big tree where he sat down.
"I only had maybe an hour and a half of daylight by the time I got there," Tim said. "I had never hunted that area before, it was windy and I didn't have a lot of confidence, but it was the peak of the rut, so I figured I should be out there."
Tim hadn't been in his spot for 15 minutes when he heard crashing about 60 yards away across a creek.
"Two deer came out -- a buck chasing a doe -- but by the time I grabbed my crossbow, all I could see was two brown animals running up the hill toward the pasture. I thought they might double back, so I just sat there. Shortly after that, another buck came down the same trail with his nose to the ground, following the doe. Twenty minutes later, a third buck came along, tracking the same doe."
Having just seen three bucks, Tim tried grunting and rattling, but to no avail. "About 30 minutes before dark, I eased down to the 4-wheeler trail and started walking back toward the truck in the direction the deer had gone," Tim said. "When I got to within 10 yards of the pasture, I heard crashing in the brush.
Suddenly, all the deer ran out into the field. One pretty good buck circled out into the field looking back toward me, blowing and stamping his feet."
While Tim was watching that buck, another, larger buck sneaked up along the field edge and started working a scrape.
"That was one big buck!" Tim said. "He was 40 yards away from me, standing broadside and pawning the ground. Since I was standing in a thicket, the only way I could get a shot was to step out in the open. So I put the scope on him, took three steps into the pasture and pulled the trigger."
The buck immediately turned and ran back along the field edge about 75 yards before turning downhill and disappearing into the thicket. It was getting late, and since Tim wasn't sure of his hit, he elected to wait until the next morning before recovering his buck. The following morning the deer was found less than 100 yards from where Tim had shot it.
"I saw the antlers sticking up when I was about 30 yards away," Tim recalled. "I knew he was big, but I didn't know he was that big!"
Tim's enormous 10-pointer was officially scored by Buckeye Big Buck Club scorer Ron Perrine and netted a final score of 180 2/8 typical B&C points.
JACOB CORDRAY'S BIG NON-TYPICAL
One of Ohio's top non-typical bucks of the 2007 season was taken by Jacob Cordray in Morgan County on Nov. 11. Jacob and his brother Josh grew up hunting. No stranger to deer hunting, Jacob has taken his share of bucks, including an impressive 8-pointer downed during the '03 gun season that just missed the minimum entry score for the Buckeye Big Buck Club.
"I took up bowhunting when my parents told me they had been watching an enormous 8-point buck at their bird feeder," Jacob said. "They had pictures of it too. After hearing about the buck, I purchased a crossbow and set up a blind next to a deer trail leading to my parents' place."
Buoyed by beginner's enthusiasm, Jacob sat in that blind for six to seven hours at a time, but he never laid eyes on the buck.
"I saw plenty of does and young bucks," Jacob said. "But the big 8-pointer never showed up."
Later on during gun season, one of the neighbors downed the big buck.
"After that, I lost all interest in bowhunting," Jacob said.
Jacob is an avid rabbit hunter, and he owns a pack of beagles.
"I went rabbit hunting on Nov. 10," Jacob said. "However, the minute I turned the dogs loose, the first thing they did was hit a deer track. They started running it, and I was disgusted. So as soon as I could, I loaded the dogs back in the truck and went to town." While in McConnelsville, Jacob purchased a Buck Roar grunt call and a deer tag. "I came back home, put up my dogs and went deer hunting that evening."
Jacob only gets to hunt on weekends because his job at a stone quarry keeps him away from home most of the week.
"My brother and I went into work that next day, and a friend of mine, Jimmy Rutter, who had just gotten in from hunting that morning, called and said that the bucks were rutting," Jacob said. "He knew I'd be coming home if he said that. So I said to my brother, 'Let's finish up and try to get home in time for the evening hunt.' "
The date was Nov. 11, 2007. After a rainy two-hour drive home from Columbus, Jacob and his brother Josh rounded a bend not far from their house.
"A doe had crossed the road, and we stopped and watched her for a minute," Jacob said. "And then this huge buck came running across the road right in front of the truck and ran right into her. My jaw dropped and my brother was shouting, 'Oh my gosh!' "The doe ambled away following a gas line right of way up the hill, with the buck right behind her.
"Jake, we can get that deer," Josh said.
Josh thought that if he could get on that upper bench, he could keep the deer from going over the hill.
"When we got back to the house, I grabbed my crossbow and got on my 4-wheeler and headed for a creek that separates two large fields," Jacob said. "I was going to take my 4-wheeler down to the fence line, hide it and cross the creek. Then I planned to go to the corner of the woods near one of the fields while Josh walked up the hill along the gas line right a way."
When Jacob got to the creek, he found that it wa
s too high to cross.
"I parked it in the brush and walked about 30 yards and found I couldn't get across because of the rain," Jacob said. "I was aggravated, but I thought that the deer might cross anyway."
Not having any other options, Jacob was leaning against a tree when he spotted the doe about 120 yards across the big field.
"She was coming right to that corner of woods at a trot," Jacob said. "When she arrived at the corner, here came that buck behind her at a fast walk. He never took his eyes off her."
The doe started walking the opposite creek bank toward Jacob.
"When the buck got to the creek bank, he went straight to the doe," Jacob said. "But because I had brush on both sides of me, the only way I could get a shot was by shooting left-handed," Jacob said. "And I had never shot my bow left-handed before."
The buck was quartering slightly away at about 20 yards when Jacob blew the Buck Roar call. This instantly stopped the buck in his tracks.
"Instead of turning to offer a broadside shot, the buck flung his head back and looked toward me," Jacob said. "That's when I took the shot. The Muzzy found its mark and went forward into the rib cage. The buck didn't go 40 yards."
Jacob's buck was a main-frame 5x5 with six additional abnormal points. With a total of 32 4/8 inches in abnormal growth, the huge Morgan County whitetail netted 199 1/8 non-typical B&C points.