It’s that time of year again — deer season is nearly upon us, and if you’re like me, you’re ready to start living vicariously through the hunting tales that you hear from others.
Luckily, when you’re in this line of work, a lot of cool deer stories cross my desk. Here’s hoping that you find a tale of your own to share this year, and that when you do, you’ll think of your friends here at the BDN and send details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are a few of my favorite big buck tales from the past few years. (And yes, one buck wasn’t taken by a hunter. Still, I knew you’d want to get another look at the 22-pointer’s rack).
Why not start at the top? While the buck Alfred Bowden Jr. shot back in 2014 wasn’t the biggest ever featured in these pages, it certainly was the most popular. In fact, Bowden’s deer tale garnered more page views than any other story we ran on our website all year, across all categories.
Bowden had shot four other deer that weighed in heavier than 200 pounds, but his 2014 whopper tipped the scales at 274 pounds, field-dressed. It sported a modest 8-point rack, but was a long-bodied specimen, to be sure.
“I measured it from the tip of its horns to its hooves [while it was hanging] and it’s about 9 1/2 feet,” Bowden said.
Neal Page of Palmyra ended up with the buck of a lifetime in 2015, as he worked his way along a swamp.
“I was leaning back against a tree and I had a bead on it, and I blatted: ‘Bap! Bap! Bap!’ Three times,” Page told me. “The third time, he stopped and he kind of looked into the bog, because it echoed. When he stopped, bang, it was over.”
The buck weighed in at 282 pounds, and sported a 10-point rack. Its neck weighed 34 inches around.
“You can’t plan on anything. You can’t figure those [big bucks] out,” he said. “You just luck onto ’em.”
Ben Thibodeau of Brewer had only begun hunting three years before his 2015 encounter with the buck Bucksport folks had taken to calling “The Millvale Monster.”
Thibodeau called it an 18-pointer, while others said it had 19 points. It weighed in at 197.8 pounds, field-dressed, and was 250 pounds on the hoof.
“The landowner said he had seen that deer for the past few years,” Thibodeau said. “It was kind of a local legend down there. When I got it, he came down and said, ‘Holy [expletive]! You got the Millvale Monster!”
Albany McCabe of New Sweden caught the hunting bug in a big way in 2016, and by the end of the year, she had a monster buck to show for it.
The 19-year-old spent plenty of time in the woods, but ended up crossing paths with a 269-pound buck in an atypical way: Her dad spotted the deer in a field, and yelled for Albany to come downstairs, and quick.
Albany was wearing the required blaze orange, but hadn’t fully geared up before shooting the eight-pointer.
“I’m not kidding you,” said her dad, Jesse McCabe. “She had her pajamas on, and a vest and a hat. And she shot that buck.”
And finally, let’s talk about the buck that no hunter ever caught up to, but which became quite a sensation a year ago.
Danny Barker of Coplin Plantation, not far from Sugarloaf, explained that an employee of his hit the deer with his vehicle. The buck sported a monstrous 22-point rack, which also had a number of smaller, non-scoring points.
Barker’s employee didn’t have room to display the antlers, and gave the deer to his boss.
“I’m getting it mounted, and after he sees it, if he wants it back, I’ll just give it to him,” Barker said. “It’s too beautiful of a deer not to get it mounted, and to just keep the horns.”