What do a good breakfast, a trusty old Remington Model 870 and a well-placed ladder stand have in common? They're all things that can help a hunter bring down an enormous whitetail, that's what!
Marty Sharp received his first shotgun when he was 9 years old. In fact, the avid deer hunter, who lives in west-central Illinois, still hunts with the old Remington Model 870 12 gauge. The vintage gun proved to be more than enough to put down the largest non-typical whitetail killed in Illinois during the 2007 season.
The photo does not do justice to this massive main-frame 4x4. Given his buck's 24-inch inside spread, exceptionally long main beams and tines, and plenty of extra kickers, including an 8-inch drop tine, Marty Sharp has plenty of reason to be smiling.
You have to be tough to hunt out of a honey locust tree, and that's where Marty was before daylight on Friday, Nov. 16. It was opening day of the first Illinois gun season. Prior to heading to his ladder stand, Marty got up early and went to Hardee's for breakfast. He figured if he was going to stay in the stand all day, he needed a -- pardon the pun -- "hardee" breakfast.
Marty had already enjoyed a great deer season. The week prior to shotgun season, he arrowed a beautiful 10-point buck that scored in the 150s. Now, as he headed for the locust tree, he hoped that his good luck would continue. He had been saving this special stand for opening day of shotgun season, and this would be the first time the stand was hunted in 2007.
He arrived at his ladder 30 minutes before daylight and set up a scent wick filled with Golden Estrus doe-in-heat scent in front of the stand. At that point he was ready for daylight. The moment it started getting light, he started seeing deer. Several does and small bucks walked by his stand totally unaware of his presence.
A HEART-STOPPING SIGHT!
Marty continued to see sporadic deer movement all morning and well past noon. At 3 p.m. he decided to do a little calling. He used a can call and then a grunt call. As far as he could tell, there was no response. Marty then got out his cell phone and called his dad, Bill Sharp, to make sure he had gotten into his stand without any problem. Bill told his son that he was in his stand and ready for some action.
Marty put his phone back in his pocket and turned around. Unbelievably, his eyes were greeted by a sight he would not soon forget. The biggest buck he had ever seen in 37 years of hunting was
30 to 40 yards away and closing fast. Marty reached back and grabbed his shotgun. The buck was totally unaware of his presence.
At this point, the buck's antlers were partially obscured by the grass in the CRP field from which it was approaching. Marty knew the buck was big, but he didn't realize that it was gigantic! As soon as the buck cleared the grass and lifted his head, Marty saw an amazing rack full of long tines and a distinct drop tine on the left side. The buck was walking straight toward him, offering no shot. At 20 yards, however, the huge deer turned broadside. Marty was ready and waiting. He instantly squeezed the trigger.
At the shot, the buck ran about 10 yards. Then he turned and ran back toward the hunter. Marty fired a second slug for insurance, and the buck went down. As the huge animal came to rest, his antlers were tangled in some brush, and Marty could not see the entire rack. Remaining relatively calm in his stand, Marty waited 10 minutes with the gun lined up on the great buck -- just in case.
NO SHRINKAGE HERE!
He finally climbed down the 15-foot ladder and approached his trophy. As soon as he got his first good look at the massive rack, he was in awe.
"I was in shock," Marty said. "All I could do was just stand there and stare at the buck. I tried to count the points, and I kept coming up with different numbers between 19 and 21."
After some of the shock started to wear off, Marty called his nephew Nathan. He told Nathan he had just shot a 20-point buck. Nathan said, "No way! You're lying!" Later Marty called his dad and told him the same thing. You guessed it! Bill said, "No way! You're lying!"
|THE MARTY SHARP BUCK|
|Scorable Points:||21 (9R, 12 L)||TOTAL LENGTH OF ABNORMAL POINTS: 49 1/8|
|Tip-To-Tip Spread:||16 0/8|
|Greatest Spread:||26 4/8|
|Inside Spread:||24 0/8|
|Main Beam||29 6/8||28 1/8||1 5/8|
|1st Point (G-1)||9 4/8||9 1/8||3/8|
|2nd Point (G-2)||13 5/8||15 1/8||1 4/8|
|3rd Point (G-3)||13 0/8||12 2/8||6/8|
|4th Point (G-4)||--||1 1/8||1 1/8|
|1st circ. (H-1)||6 2/8||5 7/8||3/8|
|2nd circ. (H-2)||5 0/8||4 7/8||1/8|
|3rd circ. (H-3)||5 2/8||5 2/8||--|
|4th circ. (H-4)||4 3/8||3 6/8||5/8|
|TOTALS:||86 6/8||85 4/8||6 4/8|
|Gross Typical Score:||196 2/8|
|Subtract side-to-side differences:||-6 4/8|
|Add abnormal points||+49 1/8|
|FINAL NET NON-TYPICAL SCORE:||238 7/8|
|Taken by: Marty Sharp, DATE: November 16, 2007, LOCATION: West-Central Illinois|
Perhaps there was a bit of a credibility gap among close family members brought about by past experiences. On other hunts, whenever Marty had excitedly called his dad or nephew to tell them he had just shot a "big" buck, a considerable amount of ground shrinkage always seemed to take place. But not this time! In fact, the longer everyone looked at the unbelievable buck Marty had just downed, the bigger it seemed to grow!
Later on, the deer definitely grew in size as Marty and his two nephews Nathan and Zach dragged it out of the woods. Marty did not want to put the deer on a 4-wheeler and risk breaking any part of the rack, so he and his nephews ended up dragging the carcass a fairly long distance to the truck.
A WORLD-CLASS FRAME
Marty's buck did, in fact, have 21 measurable points. Amazingly, the typical 4x4 portion of the buck's massive frame grossed 196 2/8 inches! With nearly 50 additional inches in non-typical points, including a classic 8-inch drop tine, it's easy to see how the huge rack tallied up a net non-typical score of 238 7/8 inches!
"It's the largest typical 4x4 frame I've ever measured," said Tim Walmsley, one of Illinois' best-known B&C measurers. Tim has scored dozens of record-book trophies. He was particularly impressed by the length of the main beams -- (the right beam was just under 30 inches), as well as the extraordinary tine length (the left G-2 was 15 1/8 inches).
Marty took the great buck to Emkin Taxidermy, where the deer was mounted in time to be put on display at the Illinois Deer Classic held in Bloomington, Illinois, last February. The buck was hailed as the largest firearms non-typical at the show. As mentioned, it was also the largest non-typical whitetail taken by a firearm in Illinois during the 2007 season. By coincidence, Illinois' largest bow-killed buck, taken in 2007, scored 238 2/8 inches, only 5/8 of an inch less than Marty's great buck. That deer, taken by Kevin Radke, will be featured in an upcoming issue of North American Whitetail.
Marty summed up his exceptionally good luck by saying, "I think it was a combination of experience, patience (staying in my stand all day), hunting the stand for the first time, staying alert, and being lucky enough to see the buck before the buck saw me."
Any experienced deer hunter will tell you that no matter how hard you work at it, you always need a little luck. Nov. 16, 2007, was definitely Marty Sharp's lucky day!