November 13, 2022
Brandon Swan grew up hunting public land in Wisconsin with his brother and dad, and they were fairly successful.
“Back then I didn’t know how to age deer, so anything over 14 inches wide and an 8-point I thought was a giant,” Brandon says. “I’ve killed plenty of those deer in the past, and I wanted something more.”
Since Brandon has been hunting out of state for elk, he decided he wanted to target a truly mature whitetail in a different place. While searching for places to hunt online, Brandon found a place called JC Outfitters in Ohio. After reaching out to Jim Coleman and talking with him, Brandon knew this would be his best chance.
“It was Jim’s first year, and it was my first out-of-state whitetail hunt,” says Brandon. “My first year with Jim I killed a 164-inch 13-point, and I was hooked.”
Jim, his family and guides were like family to Brandon, and he’s been back for five years running. This year was exciting for Brandon because he knew of a particular buck Jim had been seeing on his farms. Brandon’s wife actually passed the deer last year as a 3 1/2-year-old. Although the deer had been frequenting Jim’s one farm, it disappeared. Jim was confident the buck would return, and he did just two days later in an alfalfa field.
Opening evening arrived and Brandon didn’t see the buck. He saw multiple bucks, passing some great deer since he was holding out for the big one. His second evening was incredible, too. Brandon was hunting in a hard-sided blind and had over 20 bucks and 30 does and fawns in the field.
“I knew he was traveling with two other 3-year-olds,” Brandon recalls. “And, sure enough, they came over the hill. He was 20 yards behind them and coming straight to me. In a complete rookie mistake, I opened the window when the two other bucks were feeding out in front of me at 25 yards. Somehow, the wind swirled into the blind and back out that window, and the night was over.”
The two other bucks got Brandon’s wind and blew, taking the big buck with them. Brandon retold the story to Jim, Billy and Bob that night, and they assured him the buck had no idea what happened.
The next evening, the two 3-year-olds popped out way earlier than expected. They were also straight downwind and up through the hollow where they have never come from. The Big 8 was right behind them. All three bucks were within 35 yards now, so Brandon let them relax and walk around.
“When they relaxed, I slowly opened the blind window up,” says Brandon. “The buck stood frontal at 32 yards for what seemed like an eternity. He finally turned enough to where I could put it just behind his shoulder. At the shot, the buck whirled, and I saw the bolt bury deep behind his shoulder as he ran by me!”
The buck tipped over just 50 yards away!
“It took me awhile to even realize what had just happened,” says Brandon. “I sat there just taking it all in before I made some calls. I was shaking like a leaf!”
Jim arrived with some people that had come to camp with Brandon, and the celebrations started. The Big 8 green scores 188 2/8 gross and nets 183 2/8.