Photo courtesy of Barry Rose.
The story about Barry Rose’s new state-record bow buck is one of a typical hunting family in Wisconsin. Barry’s mother, Kathy, and father, Jerry, both hunt, as do his brothers and sister. Then you add Barry’s three sons — Cody, Brady and Payton — to round out the posse.
OK, so most of us don’t own a Super Bowl ring like Barry received while playing wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, who drafted him out of UW-Stevens Point. But next to deer hunting, football is about as Wisconsin as you can get. And of course, only family and deer season come before football in this state. Even Barry’s first look at the awesome typical buck was a family event. On a late-September afternoon, he took his youngest son, Payton, out with him.
“Hunting has always been a family thing for us,” said Barry, who is superintendent of Elmwood Schools in western Wisconsin. “It was that way growing up, and we keep it that way with my family today.
“The thing that’s important to remember when bringing an 8-year-old along, is the hunt is about them,” Barry stressed. “I usually go to the backside when hunting this area. Well, I didn’t want to put Payton through all that work, so we took the easy way. Thirty minutes before dark, Payton started getting antsy. Rather than make him miserable and ruin the hunt, we snuck out early. We had just started driving out when we spotted the huge buck crossing an open lane. If Payton wasn’t with me, I would have went in the way I usually do, and would have stayed in my stand until dark. Either way, I wouldn’t have seen that buck.
“I won’t pretend I knew he was a new record, but I knew he was bigger than any of the four I have on my wall,” Barry continued. “He had good mass, long tines and was in a different category than anything I had ever seen in the woods.
“That one glimpse changed how I approached the season,” he said. “With three boys, we go through a lot of venison. I usually shoot a couple does a year. The year before was Brady’s first year to hunt. After he shot two does, I decided we had enough meat and didn’t shoot one myself. Well, then we became an Earn-A-Buck Unit, which left me without a purple sticker. I knew right there that I didn’t want to see him again until I had my buck sticker.”
Over the next couple of weeks, Barry left that area alone and focused on filling his doe tag. “It was starting to get to me,” Rose admitted. “I wanted to go after that buck, but couldn’t get my doe tag filled.”
That changed on Oct. 7. Brady already had his purple sticker, and being 13 years old, he also qualified for the 2006 Youth Deer Hunt. With bucks now fair game for kids with stickers, father and son went back to Mr. Big’s home turf.
“When the youth hunt came, I couldn’t think of a bigger thrill than having Brady be the one to shoot him,” Barry said. “Hunting is all about building memories. What a memory that would make!”
Climbing into the same tree — Brady armed with a gun and Barry with a bow — the goal was to kill a giant and to get Barry his sticker. Well, a spent shell and quiver full of arrows later, Mr. Big still lived, but purple stickers were no longer an issue because Brady took a doe and Barry arrowed two. The massive buck was now fair game for Barry.
Life as a school superintendent is a busy one. Between concerts, plays, conferences, meetings and sporting events, that doesn’t leave many afternoons open for hunting. “We don’t have school activities on Wednesdays,” Barry said. “So that’s when I typically get out to hunt.”
Things were getting a little crazy in the Rose household last fall. Barry was inducted into UW-Stevens Point’s Football Hall Of Fame on the weekend of Oct. 21, and when you add that with all the school events, Rose needed a break.
“I go to all the school functions and felt guilty even thinking about skipping the high school concert,” Barry admitted. “With everything going on and a cold front moving in, I wanted to unwind in the woods. After checking with the principal to be sure he would be there, I decided to go hunting. I still felt guilty the whole time I was driving to the spot.”
It wouldn’t be long before he was in his environment.
“Before I went in, I filled a film canister with Wildlife Research Center’s No. 1 Select Estrus,” Barry said. “Because I was in a rush to get up the tree, I didn’t think much about where I hung it. I knew I had put it close to one of my shooting lanes, but I was more focused on hunting than placement. It was already 4:45 and deer were moving!”
Barry’s stand location screams “big-buck hotspot” because it has a large opening on one side and a mature woods running up to the edge of extremely thick cover. The stand faces the thick stuff, with a couple of shooting lanes slicing into the nearly impenetrable cover. Making the stand even better is a bedding area on one side, and food on the other. Deer wanting to get from bed to food would travel the edge of the cover and pass within easy bow range.
“After climbing into the stand, I sprayed a little cover scent on the tree,” Barry said. “Next, I have this habit of lightly rattling right after getting settled, and finish off with three to five grunts. It’s my way of covering any sounds I made on my way in. At 6 o’clock, I started my third rattling sequence. About five minutes after I finished, I spotted a body moving through the thick stuff. When he hit an opening, I saw his rack and knew it was him! The next time I saw him, he was leaving and wasn’t going to give me a shot. Luckily, he smelled the No. 1 Select Estrus, turned and came in on a string. Once he reached the canister, he really put on a show. There, standing 20 yards in front of me, this incredible buck was inhaling this scent and raking his antlers on the branch! It had him totally captivated.”
When the buck switched course, Barry came to full draw. Crossing the first shooting lane, the buck was quartering slightly toward Barry. Rose waited because he was confident the buck would hit his second shooting lane, thus offering a better shot. That’s when his hurried placement of the film canister comes into play. Barry forgot he placed the canister just before his second shooting lane. The buck worked the scent right in front of Barry, but he didn’t have a shot! This went on for minutes. With Barry’s arms now shaking from the strain, he had to let down on his bow. Luckily, a large tree blocked the buck’s view. But finally, the bruiser sensed
something wasn’t right. Turning to where he had come from, he began walking away. As he did, Barry came to full draw again. When the buck hit the shooting lane, Barry let the arrow fly.
“The arrow went all the way through,” Barry said. “As the buck kicked and took two big bounds, the one thing I’ll never forget is how he looked like an elk smashing through the thicket. In an instant, he was gone! With him out of sight, I sat down — nervous, shaking, blood pumping — and looked at my watch, and it was 6:27. I struggled to regain my composure. The first thing that went through my mind was, Oh my gosh! Next, all I could do was hope I didn’t shoot too far back. After five minutes, I couldn’t take it any more and climbed down. The arrow was covered in bright red blood! That was very exciting for me.”
Slipping out of the woods, Barry couldn’t wait to share the news with his wife, Tammy, and the boys. To make it even more of a family affair, Barry called his brother, Jerry Jr. Two hours later, the two brothers were following a blood trail, only to have it disappear 30 yards from the shot location. To play it safe, they slipped out and waited for morning.
“That night, I called my other brother, Cary, and my dad,” explained Barry. “They would help me and Jerry Jr. the next morning. I was confident the buck was dead, but worried that the coyotes might get him. I didn’t sleep at all that night!”
Four of them started searching at 8:30 a.m. As noon approached, Barry decided it was time to get some lunch and then resume the search.
“I was sitting on the tailgate of the truck,” Barry recalled. “Dad and Cary were still looking in the woods. I was now thinking there was a 10 percent chance I’d find him. I was depressed. That’s when Cary came running around the corner, and it was such a shock to see that I grabbed my bow because I figured he must have been getting chased by a bear. Finally, I understood what he was screaming. He had found the buck!”
Handshakes and hugs followed as the Rose clan stood over what is now Wisconsin’s new state-record typical bow buck. Netting 187 2/8 typical inches, this Dunn County 16-pointer beats the previous state mark of 186 5/8 inches held by Ken Shane’s 2000 Buffalo County buck and Frederic Hofman’s 1994 Langlade County rack.