By Joe Martino
Isaac Yoder keeps busy. The 26-year-old is Amish, so he isn’t programmed to sit idly by. In fact, it’s his work ethic that eventually started him on the quest to kill an unbelievably wide-racked Ohio whitetail in 2018.
When his brother bought some land near their family farm in Belmont Co., Isaac began spending a lot of time there. He’s a farrier, a job that keeps him quite busy shoeing horses in the community. Isaac’s job actually played a part in how he was able to start hunting a truly superb buck.
Sitting on the porch after work on a hot July day back in ’17, Isaac let his mind drift to deer hunting. It was the time of year when he typically tries to find a buck to go after during hunting season. Without a target buck for the upcoming season picked out, Isaac decided to take a stroll to glass a nearby soybean field.
Right off the bat, he saw some bucks feeding on the tender summer crop. And then, a short distance from the bachelor group, Isaac saw another deer feeding in the field. This one’s head was down, and thus concealed by the beans. But when the deer raised his head, Isaac immediately knew he’d found a buck to go after.
“I’m telling you, when he lifted his head up, I started shaking,” Isaac claims. “The buck’s rack was so wide it seemed to go on forever.”
In fact, Isaac was so taken aback by the animal that he says, “I had the worst case of buck fever right then that I have ever had — more so than on any buck I have ever killed.”
That should tell you something about how wide this buck’s rack really is. It was wide enough, in fact, for Isaac to give the deer the apt nickname “747” in honor of the popular wide-body aircraft model by Boeing.
After spotting the huge whitetail, Isaac spent the rest of the night trying to convince himself that what he’d seen was actually real. The property on which he’d seen the buck butts up to his brother’s, and Isaac and his family had permission to ride their horses on it. But a conversation with the landowner, and an offer to shoe his horses, now meant that Isaac also could hunt the deer there.
Determined from the Start
Isaac doesn’t own any trail cameras, but a friend of his put some out. Soon they began getting the deer on camera. However, so were some hunters with permission to access neighboring properties. Isaac was determined to act quickly to harvest the magnificent buck before anyone else did.
If you want an example of how dedicated Isaac was to this buck, perhaps the hunter’s first trip to the stand says it all. Trail cameras had shown the buck was showing up around Isaac’s stand around 4:00 a.m. and hanging out until daylight. So, what did Isaac do? On opening morning of archery season, Isaac got into his stand at 1:00 a.m. The determined hunter sat there all day until shooting light had ended. In total, that was 18 hours on stand.
“I had every buck I knew of on the property walk by me at 25 yards and offer me a shot — every buck but him,” Isaac recalls.
He didn’t hunt the next day, and you guessed it: The buck showed up on camera in shooting light! And that’s how things would go between the two of them for the rest of the season. The game of cat-and-mouse dragged on for months, leaving Isaac frazzled.
The bowhunter saw 747 one time during the ’17 season, and he thought for a minute he was going to get a shot. But it didn’t work out that way.
Isaac was hunting a wooded area off a food plot, not far from a set of scrapes. The hunter wanted to be closer to the scrapes, as he felt that’s where 747 might show up. But Isaac was using a climbing tree stand, and there just weren’t any good trees to get in. He ended up being about 60 yards away from the scrapes. Sure enough, his only glimpse of the deer came as the buck worked the scrapes out of bow range.
The thought of letting an arrow loose did cross Isaac’s mind, but he wasn’t about to risk wounding the deer. He didn’t want it to go down like that. In fact, rather than take a shot he wasn’t 100 percent confident in, the gracious hunter would rather someone else make a good, clean shot on 747. That’s true hunter ethics.
On New Year’s Day ’18, 747 rang in the holiday by shedding his antlers. At that point, Isaac was done hunting him. Their chess match would have to wait until the coming fall to resume.
Restarting the Chase
When the time finally came to hunt 747 again, Isaac put together another piece of the puzzle. And he knew it could be the ticket for grounding the extra-wide buck.
The hunter worked out a deal with a neighboring landowner to be able to hunt a property that lies adjacent to the one where Isaac had first spotted the buck The landowner lives out of town and hunts the property himself, along with his children. Still, he gave Isaac the go-ahead. In exchange for hunting rights to the property, Isaac agreed to plant and maintain all the food plots on the property. He also vowed to hang and maintain the landowner’s tree stands and box blinds.
Isaac earned his keep around the farm, planting over seven acres of food plots, building and placing two box blinds and hanging and trimming tree stands for the owner, along with placing his own stands.
When September came around, Isaac began seeing 747 in the beans and corn he’d planted at the far end of the farm. Interestingly, though baiting is legal in Ohio, Isaac made the decision that he wasn’t going to hunt this buck over bait. Simply put, the hunter wanted to use another strategy to harvest the special whitetail.
As the season drew on, Isaac explains, the monster buck was showing up on camera nearly every day, either at one of the locations that Isaac wasn’t hunting or at a time when he wasn’t in the stand.
The labor of two hunting seasons was starting to wear on Isaac. He admits that by that time, he was physically and mentally drained. He just wanted the saga to end, one way or another.
Eerily, in mid-October, 747 vanished. Photos and all signs of him were gone. Hoping to find an answer to the buck’s disappearance, Isaac traveled to a nearby restaurant to see if he could chat with the father of one of the hunters on a neighboring property. The man frequented the joint, and Isaac had spoken to him of the buck before.
Luckily, Isaac connected with the man there. As the two discussed the deer and his behavior, the man mentioned that his son had gotten a photo of 747 at 4:00 a.m. that morning.
Leaving the restaurant, Isaac said to himself: Huh, typical for that deer to be so unpredictable.
Around the first of November, 747 showed up again around Isaac’s stands — and in daylight. Trail cameras showed him working scrapes at 9:00 a.m. on a regular basis. That’s all Isaac needed to know. The hunt was back on.
One of Isaac’s tree stands was ideal; it was situated in the woods about 80 yards from a food plot in a funnel area where deer travel around a ravine. For the next six days, Isaac hunted that stand. The wind was right, and he took advantage of it. While those six days passed without his seeing the deer, Isaac stayed determined.
The next day, on Nov. 8, Isaac was on stand again. At about 8:00 a.m., he stood up to stretch and looked into the food plot he’d checked just before standing up — and there was the buck. For the first time all season, Isaac was looking at 747 in the flesh.
The bowhunter already knew from the way the deer was walking that he would soon be standing just 18 yards in front of the tree stand. Sure enough, within a few minutes, 747 was working the scrape only steps in front of Isaac’s stand. “It felt like forever before he stopped working that scrape and turned to move so I could get a shot,” he remembers.
When the buck did move, Isaac couldn’t shoot; limbs protected the deer’s vitals. Then, when 747 started walking again, he wasn’t broadside as he’d been before. Instead, the huge buck turned and started walking head-on toward Isaac!
When the behemoth whitetail did finally turn broadside, Isaac drew his Mathews Halon and found a spot behind the buck’s shoulder to settle his pin. Isaac then waited for the buck to stop, but he didn’t. Then Isaac felt his bow arm come up against a tree limb. It was either shoot then or let the bow down.
Immediately 747 crashed away, bulldozing everything in his path.
“He even caught a decent-sized tree in his rack and actually ripped it out of the ground,” Isaac remembers. He was fearful the deer would break off part of his rack in the commotion.
After running 80 yards or so, the giant buck faded out of sight. Isaac decided to play it safe and back out of the area. He took the long way out, hoping his caution would prevent him from bumping the wounded buck.
Upon taking up the blood trail, Isaac found what appeared to be an area where the deer had bedded for a period of time. After first backing out to allow time for the buck to expire, Isaac returned to find 747 bedded and still alive. The hunter stalked to within 20 yards of him and landed a lethal follow-up shot.
And just like that, Isaac’s 2-year quest for the mega-wide whitetail had ended. Next, the celebrations commenced. Soon, photos of Isaac’s trophy were circulating on social media throughout the country. As the bowhunter says: “It felt like the whole world knew about this buck.”
Isaac notes that he couldn’t be more grateful to the landowners who have allowed him to hunt over the years and who played significant parts in his tagging 747. And what of the gracious landowner who allowed Isaac to hunt in exchange for food plot work and stand maintenance? That family couldn’t be happier. There were absolutely no hard feelings or bad thoughts on their part. That’s proof positive they’re stand-up folks.
After being officially scored by a Boone & Crockett measurer, Isaac’s spectacular buck boasted a gross score of 175 inches. The buck is a mainframe 8-pointer with seven addition points. But without a doubt, the most incredible aspect of 747’s unique rack is its incredible width. Officially, the inside spread is a whopping 32 7/8 inches, while the outside is 35 1/8!
Those are numbers virtually never seen on a whitetail rack, and it’s easy to see why 747 garnered so much attention from whitetail fanatics everywhere. Bucks with wingspans so wide they’re named for jetliners just don’t come along every day.