Calling In A Monster

Putting his buck-grunting and doe-bleating talents to good use last fall, Jon Alen attracted a monster whitetail that turned out to be the state's No. 3 bow buck! (September 2008)

A net score of 212 5/8 puts Jon Allen's Lancaster County giant at about No. 132 in P&Y listings and at No. 3 among Nebraska's archery non-typicals.
Photo courtesy of Jon Allen.

Bowhunters will take to the hills and timber in Nebraska on Sept. 15, all hoping to get a chance at a whitetail as big as the former world record taken by Del Austin of Hastings back in 1962 -- a Hall County monster that scored 279 7/8 as a non-typical.

That one-time holder of the world mark was edged out of position by a buck scoring 294 7/8 that was arrowed by Mike Beatty in Green County, Ohio, on Nov. 8, 2000. Austin's kill, however, remains No. 1 in the Nebraska records.

Over the past few years, some huge non-typical whitetails have been taken by archers in the Cornhusker State. Jeff Moody of Hickman came the closest to matching the Austin giant. That story was carried in the Sept. 2004 issue of Great Plains Game & Fish. He dropped a buck in 2003 in Lancaster County that scored 223 0/8.

The Moody buck, which was taken a few miles south of the Capital City, is one of three record-book non-typicals taken in the county in the past five years. Robert Findley of Roca took one that scored 206 2/8 in 2005 just on the outskirts of Lincoln. His hunt was featured in our Sept. 2006 issue.

The most recent was taken by Jon Allen of Eagle last October. His buck now ranks third in the Nebraska record book. Allen, a 37-year-old machinist, doesn't leave his deer hunting up to just luck.

"A couple of buddies and I hunt for shed antlers in the winter and early spring," he said. "We got permission to check on a parcel of private land for antlers, and a couple of years back we found some in a little draw. Early last year we found three in the draw, one of which was a huge non-typical. Those antlers gave me enough encouragement to plan my hunt in that area.

"I hunted the draw two years ago, but didn't get a chance at any really big bucks," Allen said "Last year things improved more than a little bit. I picked out a spot that had some decent shooting lanes and visibility near an unpicked and a picked cornfield. There was also a nearby field of native grass.

"I use a ladder stand so I'm not tied down to one spot," Allen said. "I can move it in a reasonably short time. My normal hunting routine is to head for the stand right after work at 5 o'clock when I have the time. I also hunt the weekends and normally hunt early and late for an hour or two."

Allen has been bowhunting for about 20 years and to date has bagged three bucks. He had been hunting with a rifle since he was a teenager and started under the tutelage of his dad Jon Sr. He gave up hunting with a gun in 1999 and concentrated on improving his prowess with the "bent stick."

Today he shoots a Fred Bear SQ32 and has the bow set at 63 pounds. He uses a 28-inch arrow tipped with a Muzzy broadhead. He carries four arrows in his bow quiver and has been using a grunt call and a doe bleat to get a buck's attention whenever the opportunity presents itself.

"I really like the bow," he said. "I bought it last year, and have found it really works well for me. It has a smooth pull and is the quietest bow I have ever shot."

Allen saw the big buck he wanted to hunt three times when it was in velvet and once about a week before the season opened. He was excited when the season opened, but then days and weeks went by without any sighting of the trophy whitetail. Oct. 24 was a hunt day. Allen had the ladder stand set up about 25 yards off a tractor path in a small patch of timber between the two cornfields. The day was clear with a slight breeze and the temperature in the 50s.

"My luck changed on Oct. 24," Allen said. "I left work and got to my stand about 5 p.m. I had been in my stand about an hour when I decided it was time for me to use my grunt call. I gave a couple of grunts on the call, waited about 10 minutes, called again and got a reply, which I interpreted as a fawn bleat. I pulled out my doe call (The Can) and tipped it a couple of times.

Lancaster County is a leader on the list for big non-typical whitetails taken by archers over the past five or six years.

"The combination must have worked as I saw a big buck come out of the standing corn about 70 yards from my stand, and stop," said the bowhunter. "He was looking around as if deciding where to go. I figured he was headed in the wrong direction, so I gave him another call and he started my way. He stopped at about 40 yards on the other side of some trees so I couldn't get a shot. He started to go back into the woods so I gave him a couple more grunts.

"He started moving again, then stopped at about 30 yards to rub a tree and make a scrape," Allen said. "I interrupted him with a grunt while he was marking the scrape, and he moved into the clear along the path. I locked in on him with the 30-yard pin and let the broadhead fly, saying a silent prayer.

"Fortunately the arrow went right where I was aiming and hit him right behind the left shoulder," said the archer, who admitted he was a bit shaky by that time. "The buck flinched and started running toward the timber, but almost immediately began to weave back and forth. He went about 40 to 50 yards and then took a nosedive into some grass."

Allen said it was about 6:30 when he shot and he stayed in the stand until almost dark when his hunting buddy Jerry Steinmeyer of Eagle came by to meet him.

"Jerry saw I only had three of the four arrows I carry in my quiver, so he asked for details as we walked back to the car and went home to change clothes and get flashlights," he said. "We got back to look for the buck about 8:30 and found him with his head buried in the grass about 80 yards from my stand. We were both a bit more than impressed when we pulled his head clear of the grass -- he was carrying a monstrous rack. My reaction was, what a trophy and it's only the third buck I have killed with the bow!"

After a picture session the next morning, Allen had the head measured by his taxidermist, Trent Alexander, whose shop is on the outskirts of Eagle. The gross score was 221 5/8. After the required drying time it netted 212 5/8, which would place it about No. 132 in the Pope and Young record book and No. 3 in the Nebraska records for a non-typical whitetail killed by bow.

Lancaster County is a leader on the list

for big non-typical whitetails taken by archers over the past five or six years, said Kit Hams, big game program manager for the NGPC in Lincoln. We asked him to explain.

"One of the reasons for the big bucks is that there is a lot more land under urban development in the county, wherein access for hunting is more restrictive," Hams said. "There are urban landowners who restrict all hunting, but there are some who will allow archers access to these deer. So one sees the archery kill on the increase.

"Another reason is that we have a record deer population even though we have increased the number of antlerless permits and extended the seasons. A case in point is that 70 percent of the rifle permits issued this year will include a bonus antlerless deer. All archery permits, as well as muzzleloader, landowner and youth, will have the bonus permit.

"I believe we have the hunters reasonably happy," said the game biologist, "but crop depredation remains a problem for landowners across most of the state -- thus, we need to cut down and stabilize the herd."

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