Tuesday, December 26, 2006

‘Amish Buck’ Ohio

‘Amish Buck’ Second Only to World Record

Editor’s Note: The first giant whitetail from 2006 to keep deer hunters’ modems buzzing was the Adams County, Ohio, brute taken by an Amish man wielding a crossbow. Soon after the story broke in local newspapers, pirated images of the 36-pointer began flowing over the Internet faster than you can say “Tell me it ain’t so, Britney!”

The fortunate hunter’s name is Johnathon Schmucker of Peebles, Ohio. While he’s granted several interviews and allowed the enormous rack to be photographed and measured, his religion prohibits him from stepping in front of the camera. Thus, there aren’t any traditional field photos of the freshly harvested buck.

The author of this story is Rob Meade, who scored the amazing antlers for “Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records.” With an official BTR score of 280 1/8 (which doesn’t include the 25 3/8-inch inside spread), the deer now widely known as “The Amish Buck” is a new state record for Ohio. Even more impressive: It’s the runner-up to the world record in its class.

Here’s the story behind the year’s most bodacious whitetail, so far.
By Rob Meade

Johnathon Schmucker first became acquainted with this world-class buck during the summer of 2004. He saw it three times in the same hayfield between August and September. After that, the deer vanished.

The same thing happened in 2005. He saw the hayfield buck two evenings in a row before it went underground for the rest of the year.

This year, there was no hayfield. It had been planted in soybeans. And as far back as May, Johnathon realized that the beefy whitetail had survived. Although its antlers were just beginning to take shape, the rack was too distinctive for it to be any other deer.

He saw it a second time in early July and was blown away by the amount of antler growth.

As the calendar advanced, the buck began to visit the soybeans on a regular basis – unaware that it was being observed by Johnathon, perched high upon his barn roof.

From his unusual vantage point, Johnathon was seeing the giant whitetail an average of five days a week. But it rarely entered the beans from the same direction.

Johnathon wasn’t the only person salivating over the buck. Five others also were hoping to tag the enormous whitetail.

Ohio’s ’06 bow season began Sept. 30, almost a week earlier than usual. Johnathon had kept tabs on the buck only from afar to that point. He didn’t penetrate the whitetail’s comfort zone until the Saturday opener. Even then, he didn’t venture out until after lunchtime.

A steady rain greeted hunters that day. A carpenter by trade, Johnathon’s work was cancelled. He spent the morning introducing his horse to pulling a buggy.

At approximately 3:30, Johnathon began the 20-minute trek with crossbow in hand. Also carrying a climbing stand, he headed for a fencerow along the bean field. Since that was his first time on the ground, Johnathon spent several minutes picking out a suitable and climbable tree. He was settled in by 4:30.

The overcast sky was sprinkling rain, and a steady breeze was blowing. At 5:00, two small bucks entered the bean field 100 yards distant. The hunter watched closely as the 6- and small 8-pointer vacuumed up beans.

A little while later, a small 3-point buck walked from an adjacent cornfield into the woods, and then jumped the fence to join the other bucks in the bean field.

Johnathon knew that little guy all too well. Several times during the summer, it had always preceded the giant buck.

Sure enough, five minutes after the small buck entered the field, the big boy joined it. Soon afterward, the other two bucks began to work their way toward the patriarch. When the 8-pointer got too close, the big buck raised its head, stretched out its neck and pounced toward the intruder. The intimidating move sent the 8-pointer away, while the remaining trio began ambling toward Johnathon.

As soon as the buck entered a shooting lane, Johnathon squeezed his crossbow’s trigger. The deer charged off, while its comrades sped away in another direction. A tree blocked his view of the big buck, but he saw the other ones, confused by what had just happened, stop short, snort and stomp their feet.

Moments later, Johnathon heard a crash – still out in the bean field, judging from the sound.

As soon as he was on the ground, Johnathon walked to where the buck had been standing at the time of the shot. He found his bolt almost immediately, and the blood on the arrow convinced him that he’d soon find the buck.

Instead of pursuing it, however, he gathered his gear and returned to his house to recruit some helpers: his brother-in-law, Gary Miller, and a neighbor and his son. The easy tracking job covered 80 yards.

The following days and weeks were hectic for Johnathon and his family. Word spread rapidly throughout the hunting community nationwide, and countless visitors arrived to look at the 36-point buck that tallied a whopping 280 1/8 inches as an Irregular on the Buckmasters scale.

Its composite score – akin to a Boone-and-Crockett gross – is 305 4/8 inches!

As a crossbow kill, The Amish Buck is second only to Jerry Bryant’s 297 3/8-inch Illinois monster from 2001. It beats Ohio’s former state record by nearly 42 inches.

The illustration accompanying this story is from a painting in progress by Mike Handley, editor of Rack magazine (mhandley@buckmasters.com)

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