The Niagara Giant

The Niagara Giant

New state record by muzzleloader.

Keith saw the Niagara Giant in early November while he was bowhunting, but he could not get a shot. Several weeks later on Nov. 20, 2007, the long-tined 22-point monster stepped out into a wheat field at 40 yards while Keith was doe hunting with his muzzleloader.

On June 22, 2007, my wife Jackie and I put a new trail camera out in a bedding area off a bean field on some private farmland that we'd been hunting for the past 15 years near Pendleton, New York. We'd mostly turkey hunted on this property in the past, but occasionally we'd done some bowhunting for deer as well.


I like to put my cameras out around summer food sources because the deer are concentrated in those areas at this time of year. At the time, we were living in Niagara County, New York, but we have since moved to Bloomer, Wisconsin, in search of better whitetail hunting.


On June 27, five days after putting out the camera, I checked it and discovered that I had over 200 hundred pictures. I had just purchased a new Moultrie 4.0, and I was excited to see what kind of pictures I had and what types of bucks were in the area. After I'd reviewed about half the photos and had seen a lot of pictures of does and smaller bucks, a gigantic non-typical buck in velvet suddenly appeared on the screen.

Although it still had a lot of growing to do, the buck's rack was unbelievable! Having lived in this area for a number of years and being fully aware that heavy hunting pressure was a fact of life and that the deer herd was poorly managed, I was in shock. I couldn't get to Wal-Mart fast enough to start printing pictures of the monster!


I had over 20 photos of this incredible buck. From that point on, Jackie and I, along with my buddy Mike Wasik, decided to dedicate our entire 2007 season to hunting this buck. We got permission from the farmer who owned the land to put up some posted signs. We mostly bowhunt, and we already had stands set up around bedding areas and funnels between the bedding areas. Now the waiting game began.

A FULL-BLOWN GIANT
I pulled my camera and did not put it back out until the end of July, when I placed it under an apple tree. After three days, I retrieved the camera and rushed home to view the pictures. This time there were over 300 pictures on the card. The first 200 pictures included numerous shots of does and a few nice bucks. Scanning through the rest of the photos, I began to worry that we were never going to get another velvet picture of the Niagara County giant. Near the end of the pictures, though, my heart began to race as a giant rack peeking out from behind a tree once again came into view.

As my heart raced even faster, I continued to scan through even more photos of this incredible buck. In all, the camera had captured seven more pictures of the giant velvet buck from several different angles. By now, he had exploded into a 200-inch-plus non-typical with extremely long tines and a massive rack.

WAITING FOR THE RUT
We decided not to bowhunt the area until Nov. 1. After sitting all day in different stands based on proper wind direction, Jackie and I each saw a few smaller bucks, but neither of us saw any sign of the big boy. Then a week later, on the afternoon of Nov. 8, I finally saw the Niagara Giant, as we'd dubbed him. He was following a doe at 45 yards in very thick cover, and he never stopped or offered me a shot.

Keith first got several trail camera photos of the Niagara Giant in late June 2007. One month later in early August, he got these photos of the massive buck just as the deer's antlers were reaching full growth. Needless to say, Keith was a little excited!

Although my heart sank at not being able to get a shot, I was excited that I had at least seen him during daylight hours. I continued hunting him for the next 10 days with no more sightings during bow season. Firearms season opened on Saturday, Nov. 17. Not being much of a gun hunter, and knowing that the rifle season would be in for a solid month, I didn't plan to hunt him hard again until late muzzleloader season in December, when, I figured, he might make the mistake of feeding during daylight hours.

AN UNEXPECTED MEETING
On Tuesday, Nov. 20, with gun season in full swing, I decided to hunt a stand on the edge of a wheat field with my muzzleloader in hopes of shooting a doe. I had been sitting in this stand for about two hours when I saw a doe come out of the thicket about 40 yards away and head for the wheat field. Preparing for the shot, I caught movement behind her. Then I noticed a drop tine and a massive rack. It was him! I couldn't believe it!

With my heart pounding in my chest, I cocked the hammer on my Thompson/Center Pro Hunter .50-caliber muzzleloader. I aimed carefully and fired. The distance of the shot was only 30 yards, but with all the smoke, I couldn't see what had happened. When the smoke cleared, I saw him lying on the ground moving around. Because I was cold and excited, it seemed like it took forever for me to reload. I quickly shot him again, and it was all over. After climbing down and examining the deer, I discovered that my first shot had hit him high in the spine. I was very lucky

A DREAM-COME-TRUE BUCK
The Niagara Giant, the buck that I had dreamed about for the past five months, was now in my hands. After having spent countless hours in a stand with my bow, hoping to get a shot, to then have taken him with a muzzleloader while out looking for a doe still sends chills down my spine.

With a 19 3/8-inch inside spread and a total of 22 points (11 on each side), my buck officially scored 221 non-typical B&C points. With G-2s measuring 15 3/8 inches on the left and 14 inches on the right, he is the largest non-typical whitetail ever taken with a muzzleloader in New York State. I've also been told that he might be the largest whitetail taken in the entire Northeast during the 2007 season.

The Niagara Giant weighed 190 pounds field dressed and was believed to have been 5 1/2 years old. Although he might have been sighted once or twice in the area, I don't know of anyone who was hunting him or pursuing him in any way. I think he was pretty much a phantom. I had him mounted by Jim Block and Charlie Jaenecke at The Buck Stops Here Taxidermy Studio in Pendleton, New York.

As mentioned, Jackie and I moved to Bloomer, Wisconsin, in early 2008 to start our own chiropractic clinic. One of the main reasons we mov

ed to central Wisconsin was to seek out some better trophy whitetail hunting in the Upper Midwest. Even though we now live in an entirely new part of the country, my hunt in New York for the Niagara Giant is one hunt that I will relive over and over again in my mind for the rest of my life!

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THE KEITH LEVICK BUCK

Scorable points....22(11R,11L)
Tip-to-tip spread.....8 4/8
Greatest spread..... 25 0/8
Inside Spread..... 19 3/8
Total length of abnormal points: 48 1/8
Areas MeasuredRightLeftDifference
<main Beam26 0/825 6/82/8
1st point (G-1)12 0/811 2/86/8
2nd point (G-2)14 0/815 3/81 3/8
3rd point (G-3)12 4/87 8/84 6/8
4th point (G-4)2 2/8 -- 2 2/8
1st circ. (H-1)5 3/85 3/8--
2nd circ. (H-2)4 6/84 6/8 --
3rd circ. (H-3)4 5/84 3/8 2/8
4th circ. (H-4)4 1/83 4/8 5/8

Totals

85 5/878 1/810 2/8
Gross typical score.........................183 1/8
Subtract side to side differences........... -10 2/8
Add abnormal points......................... +48 1/8
FINAL NET NON-TYPICAL SCORE..................221 0/8
Taken by: Kevin Levick
Date: Nov. 20, 2007
Location: Niagra County, New York

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