The New Backyard Buck

John Nawrot never thought a short five-mile move down the road would put him in Adams County's trophy-buck territory, but that's exactly what happened last fall.

John Nawrot's bow buck had a final score of 172 6/8 typical inches.
Photo courtesy of John Nawrot

John Nawrot never imagined simply moving into a new house five miles down the road in Adams County would put him in an area in which he would arrow the biggest deer he had ever seen, a 172 6/8-inch typical that turned out to have the highest-scoring typical rack ever taken by bow in the county.

Soon after Nawrot and his wife Crystal moved into their new house, John met his neighbor Jim Bennett, who kindly gave Nawrot permission to hunt the land adjacent to Nawrot's own 20-acre parcel. Nawrot is the kind of hunter who spends a ton of time scouting, and admits there isn't a day that goes by where he's not thinking about the upcoming season. As soon as summer rolled around, Nawrot began glassing with binoculars and videotaping deer in the nearby alfalfa fields. The hunter was fortunate enough to get great footage of numerous bucks and does, including two monster bucks. Bennett told Nawrot of a 16-point buck in the immediate area, which got him even more fired up for the approaching 2004 bow season.

Nawrot and his stepson Nate headed out to bowhunt the afternoon of Oct. 3. Nawrot set up just inside the standing corn near a huge set of tracks, while he put Nate in a ground blind where the deer would pass before heading toward him. Although setting up on the ground just inside the edge of the cornfield might sound a little unconventional, Nawrot points out, "Just a few days earlier, some deer were standing in the alfalfa, including a huge buck. The big buck was the only one to head to the corn. Plus with the big set of tracks right there, I figured that might be the spot the buck likes to enter the cornfield. Or, maybe I just watch too many hunting videos!"

All joking aside, Nawrot is quick to point to his confidence in hunting from the ground.

"It seems that when I get detected on the ground, the deer are not as nervous as when they detect me in a tree stand, especially in close situations around fields where the farmers are always outside," he said.

After kneeling in the corn for about 20 minutes, Nawrot shifted around to try and get comfortable when a doe and her two fawns that fed nearby picked him off. Not finding the bowhunter as a threat, she stomped three or four times and went back to feeding.

After another 45 minutes of hunting, Nawrot peeked over the cornstalks and saw two nice bucks trotting in his direction. Nawrot would later find out that Nate shot under one of the bucks, which pushed the bucks Nawrot's way. Looking through his binoculars, one looked like a 10-pointer about 18 inches wide without much mass, and the other looked like a bigger 10-pointer with a couple stickers off his G-2s. Not having much time to make a decision whether or not to shoot, Nawrot quickly debated how much of the season still remained versus how much time he would actually have to hunt because he was so busy at work. Nawrot drew his bow and then voice-grunted. Just before disappearing around the end of the cornfield, the buck stopped and looked directly at the archer. Now Nawrot quickly worried the big buck might jump the string. At the instant Nawrot released the arrow, the buck crouched and the arrow sailed harmlessly over the buck's back -- a clean miss.

About 15 minutes later, the smaller of the two bucks came back. Thinking the big 10-pointer might be behind him, Nawrot got ready. Catching a glimpse of movement off to his side, Nawrot turned his head and couldn't believe what he saw -- a huge set of antlers walking straight toward him only about six yards away! This buck was even bigger than the others. Instantly, Nawrot thought, "That must be the 16-pointer."

The buck was already closing in on the first row of corn as Nawrot drew his bow and swung toward the approaching monster. As he turned, his elbow hit a cornstalk. With his heart pounding out of his chest and the monster buck now only 4 yards away, the buck looked right at Nawrot and stopped. The buck quickly turned and bolted about 15 yards away and stopped. Looking through his peep sight, it seemed all Nawrot could see was corn leaves. Seeing enough of the buck to shoot, he sent the arrow on its way.

"I heard the arrow hit, and the buck took off," Nawrot described. "I couldn't even feel my feet from kneeling in the corn for so long, but after what just happened it wasn't hard to quickly stand up and take a look!"

After a 100-yard run across the alfalfa field, the buck seemed to weaken and slowed to a trot, and then just a few steps. With the buck's head hanging low, Nawrot thought the buck was going to fall over any second. But it didn't.

About 15 to 20 deer stood in the alfalfa field watching the big buck. For 15 minutes, the bowhunter replayed the events in his head, second-guessed himself, and wondered where he hit the buck. As darkness approached, Nawrot tried to sneak out of the corn to go get Nate. Spotting him, the deer cleared from the alfalfa, including the big buck.

After getting Nate and phoning Crystal to tell her the news, Nawrot phoned his brothers James and Joe to help track the buck. After a 1 1/2-hour wait, the five of them went to the spot where the buck stood in the alfalfa. There was a lot of blood. Shining their lights in the woods, they couldn't believe it when the buck was just 30 yards away in the woods, looking at them. So they backed out.

Nawrot knew he should probably wait until morning to take up the buck's trail, but Nate really wanted to be with him when he found it but would be unable to come out the next day because of school. Plus, Nawrot was worried about the coyotes getting to the buck before he did. So they headed back out. When they got back to the woods, the buck was still in the exact same place, but then the buck started walking slowly through the woods. The group quickly backed out and waited until morning.

Nawrot explained the situation to his boss, Jim Oens, and asked for a few hours off the next morning. Needless to say, Nawrot didn't sleep well that night. James, Joe and their dad Jim headed out to the woods early the next morning. James and Joe circled around to the point they last saw the buck, hoping to push the buck to Nawrot and his dad in case it was still alive. James and Joe didn't find the deer, and nothing ran out. The only blood was where the buck stood in the alfalfa field the night before and the bed inside the woods. Nawrot was sick to his stomach. After a couple hours of looking and finding nothing, Joe and Jim had to get to work. Nawrot called his boss to give him the update and tell him he would be on his way into work.

"It's not every day you shoot a 16-pointer," replied his boss. "Take the day off and get back out there and find it!"

"He didn't have to tell me twice!" said Nawrot.

Nawrot headed back to the woods where James was still looking, and learned that James found a drop of blood. Drop by sporadic drop, the two followed the faint trail that led in the opposite direction the buck had headed the night before. As they progressed, Nawrot's hopes climbed since the trail headed in a direction they hadn't previously searched. After about 350 yards, Nawrot spotted the buck off to his left. The big buck was alive, but barely able to move his head. Nawrot was able to end the hunt with a clean shot through the chest cavity.

Relieved that the search was over, the brothers exchanged handshakes and admired the big buck. After tagging and field-dressing the deer, the two headed into town to show Joe and their Dad. They couldn't believe the size of the buck. And for good reason.

The buck is a main-framed 12-pointer with two stickers. The buck has great main beams, measuring just shy of 26 and 27 inches. Although considered "normal" tines, the buck has very unique matching G-2 points. The G-2s on both sides curve sharply backward and measure over 7 and 8 inches long. With an inside spread of almost 19 inches, the buck gross-scored 181 6/8 typical inches and netted a very impressive 172 6/8 inches. That makes Nawrot's buck the largest typical ever taken with a bow in Adams County.

After shooting the buck and closely analyzing his video footage from before the season, Nawrot realized the big buck was the one he got on video several times before. Also, Nawrot was scouting his area during January 2005 when he found the buck's shed antler from the 2003-2004 season only 300 yards away from where he arrowed the buck.

Adams County may not be known as a trophy-buck hotspot, but John Nawrot sure is happy in his new back yard!

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