Wayne Waldo Buck: 205-Inch Illinois Bruiser

waldo_1This has to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever tried to do.

It would be easy to understand central Illinois hunter Wayne Waldo having that thought. Most other whitetail addicts would have been thinking the same thing.

Five hundred yards from Wayne's tree stand was a buck — and even by the lofty standards of Fulton County, he was a giant. But nothing else about the situation was favorable, from the hunter's point of view. For starters, Wayne was bowhunting; the buck was out of range many times over. Granted, it was Nov. 12, so the monster no doubt was looking for love — but he already had a wad of does around him. Oh, and then there was the wind, which was anything but light. Put it all together, and the scenario was hardly a recipe for big-buck success.

Wayne had been running late when he got off work that day back in 2012; by the time he hit the woods, there was only about 90 minutes of hunting light left. "You're crazy going into the woods this late," warned nephew Robert Bowman Jr. "You'll just run deer off getting to your stand."

Wayne, however, had made up his mind that he was going hunting anyway. Unfortunately, when he got home he realized he also had a clothing issue: His Scent-Lok outerwear, which had been left hanging on the clothesline overnight, was frozen stiff. As a last resort, he grabbed his wife's Scent-Lok, put it on over his work clothes and headed out.

The tree stand Wayne had in mind was along the edge of timber bordering an alfalfa field, so he figured he could sneak into the stand without spooking any deer. Sure enough, he managed to get into the stand by 4:15 without having busted any whitetails along the way.

Entering the tree, Wayne pulled up his bow and took out his binoculars to scan the area. He immediately saw some deer approximately 500 yards away. One was a big buck; the other seven or eight were does.

At this point, I think, many other bowhunters would have looked at the situation and automatically assumed it wasn't going to end well. How could Wayne seriously expect to get a shot at that buck that afternoon? The does weren't heading toward the stand, and there was no reason to think the buck would do so without them.

Wayne's immediate reaction, however, was to swing for the fence. While realizing it might be the most ridiculous thing he'd ever done, he was going to do everything possible to get that buck's attention. The bowhunter quickly grabbed his rattling antlers and started banging them together as hard as he could.

"The buck looked in my direction but just went back to chasing does," Wayne says. "I thought, 'Well, that didn't work. What else can I do?'" He pulled out his Flextone Bone Collector combo grunt/snort-wheeze call.

"I did the snort-wheeze as loud as I could," Wayne notes. The sound clearly reached the buck, as he looked in the direction of the stand; however, he then turned his attention back to the does.

Not one to give up easily, Wayne hit the snort-wheeze again. And the buck once again looked his way. But this time, something was different: The giant turned away from the does and started toward the stand!

"It seemed like it took forever for the buck to get to me," Wayne recalls, and it's easy to imagine how anxious that wait was. The buck was coming steadily, but he had a long, long way to travel. Eventually he jumped a fence and then disappeared into a draw.

Five long minutes later, the deer still hadn't reappeared. Desperate to locate him again, Wayne let out another snort-wheeze. The giant immediately popped out of the draw at only 50 yards — now at eye level with the stand. He was obviously trying to get downwind of what he thought was a rival buck.

Unable to smell the "deer" he'd heard calling, the huge buck kept angling toward the stand. When he jumped another fence and put his head down, Wayne drew his bow. The buck continued to walk and was broadside at only 20 yards from the tree when the archer gave out a doe bleat to stop him.

The shot looked good, and the huge deer took off at a dead run. Within seconds he stopped in the alfalfa field, looking around.

"It was obvious the buck didn't know what had happened, since the shot was a complete pass-through," Wayne points out.

After about 30 seconds, the buck simply fell over, right there within sight of the bowhunter. And that's when Wayne got really nervous.

"I lost my composure and was shaking so much I couldn't get my phone to work," he says.

chartAfter taking a few minutes to calm down, Wayne climbed out of the tree and headed for his truck. He called his wife to tell her the story and then called a buddy to help recover what he felt was a 180-inch buck.

As it turned out, Wayne was wrong about the score — in a very good way. Following the required 60-day drying period, despite roughly 9 inches of deductions for typical asymmetry the giant ended up with a net non-typical score of 205 3/8 Pope & Young!

The rack has great mass, with three circumference measurements of at least 5 inches and the remaining five all being over 4 4/8.  With an impressive 40 2/8 total inches of abnormal points, it's no wonder the final score is over 200. The trophy was mounted by Dan McKee, who owns Critter Crazy Taxidermy in Ellisville.

Wayne never had seen the buck before the day he shot him, but apparently some neighbors had. After the fact, one contacted Wayne concerning a shed antler from the previous year. Wayne ended up trading a matched pair of sheds from another deer for that antler. His buck had definitely put on a lot of bone in that one year.

Later Wayne got a call from a guy in New York who'd been bowhunting nearby.  The nonresident had been driving around the area a couple of days before Wayne shot the buck, and he'd videotaped the giant. The hunter gave Wayne a copy of the footage, adding another chapter to the legacy of this great whitetail.

Reflecting on this story, it's easy to see how unlikely a successful hunt was that day. But Wayne didn't fall short in any area. He could have decided it was too late to get into the woods . . . but he went anyway. He could have scratched the plan when he found his camo wasn't ready . . . but he borrowed his wife's and went anyway. When he saw the buck 500 yards away with a herd of does, he could have told himself the deer was too preoccupied and too far, especially with the wind howling . . . but he rattled and called anyway.

The bottom line? Had Wayne not taken every step he did, he never would have had that giant walk into easy bow range of his tree stand that afternoon. Perhaps there's a lesson in this story for all of us.

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