Top Missouri Bucks of 2009

Top Missouri Bucks of 2009

It seems the quality of Missouri's bucks gets better every year. Check out these trophies from last season and see if you don't agree.

T.J. Stastny took our top bow buck of the season on 100 acres of private land in Jackson County. It netted 198 4/8. Photo courtesy of T.J. Stastny.

"Some Missouri deer hunters have all the luck! Everywhere they go big bucks seem to follow them around. Why is it that none of the big ones ever come my way?"

If you've ever felt that way, or asked yourself why others seem to kill big deer when you can't even see one, maybe the stories that follow will hold some clues for you.

Sure, luck plays a part in any hunting adventure, but as every Boy Scout knows, a fellow has to be prepared. You must be ready when the chance to take a big one presents itself.

Here's how some of our fellow Missourians got the chance at a big buck last fall and how they were prepared to take action.

MORGAN COUNTY

Jim Biggs of Versailles, MO owns and lives on a 20-acre tract of land in Morgan County. He and his wife Laura love to hunt deer on their mini-farm. Their property is about a 50/50 mix of timber/field habitat with some thick brush and a creek running through it. Jim's stand sits atop a steep ridge about 300 yards from their house. He built Laura a more convenient stand just 75 yards away from their home.

The husband/wife team spent almost every day deer hunting during the 2009 firearms deer season. Laura shot a nice 10-pointer on opening day but didn't get a fatal shot into it. The buck ran down to where her uncle was hunting and he finished it off and tagged it.

The season was winding down with the pair not seeing anything other than some does and a small 6-pointer. They were holding out for something bigger. However, not only was the season running out, but also their gumption to get out in the deer woods and finish the season.

On Nov. 21, the second Saturday of the firearms season, Jim woke up before daylight in anticipation of the morning's hunt. He woke Laura and told her it was time to get up for another day of deer hunting. But she was just too tired to go out and sit in a stand again.

Laura's decision not to go that morning may have been the luckiest moment of Jim's deer-hunting career. He decided he too was tired and really didn't want to climb the steep hillside to his stand, and so he opted to hunt his wife's tree stand close to the couple's house.

Jim climbed into the stand about half an hour before light and decided to take a nap. His nap lasted longer than he anticipated and he was awakened by the sound of a deer blowing at him at about 7:30.

Jim groggily opened his eyes and saw a big buck behind some brush about 40 yards away. He shouldered his Marlin .30/30 and shot. The buck walked off through the brush, jumped a fence and disappeared.

Jim went back to the house and waited for about 1 1/2 hours and he and Laura went back to the woods to look for the big buck. Jim found a clump of hair where he'd hit the deer but couldn't see blood because he is color blind. His faithful hunting companion and wife Laura found a crimson red blood trail about 20 yards from the shot site. They followed it to the fence and about 30 yards farther they found the huge-bodied 12-pointer.

Neighbors told Jim that they had seen the buck before and captured it on trail cameras earlier in the year. Biggs' Morgan County monster green scored right at 170 inches as a B&C typical. It's a beautifully typical 10-pointer with a kicker off each of its G-3s.

Rusty MacCash dropped this 15-pointer with his .30/06 while hunting in Phelps County. He couldn't help letting out a loud whoop when he saw how big it was! Photo courtesy of Rusty MacCash.

PHELPS COUNTY

Forty-seven-year-old Rusty MacCash of Rolla has been deer hunting since he was 10 years old. For the past 11 years, Rusty and a group of close friends have been hunting 1,500 acres of private land in Phelps County.

On Friday, Nov. 20, Rusty left work early to get back to the woods as he had yet to kill a deer during firearms season. He'd just arrived at his hunting property when he got a call on his cell phone. It was his father-in-law, Tony, a retired highway patrolman who had never hunted deer in his life. Tony informed Rusty that he was going to join him for the afternoon's hunt. Rusty reluctantly agreed. Tony arrived at camp a short while later with a red shirt and red cap on and armed with a .357 revolver to hunt deer.

"We had to give him an orange vest and cap and decide where he was going to hunt," Rusty laughed. "I thought that this was going to be a real fiasco."

Little did Rusty know at the time, but his father-in-law's surprise visit turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Rusty decided that he and his friend Donnie would put Tony not far behind the farmhouse in a little brushy hollow while they went around and tried to push a doe out for him to shoot. Donnie took the low side and Rusty took the high side. That suited Rusty just fine because he likes to slip through the woods and still-hunt for deer most of the time.

When Rusty got to the top of the hill at about 3:30, he sat down and rested for a while. At about 4:30 he heard a shot below him and assumed Tony had killed a doe. He knew he had about a 1-mile hike back to camp and decided he'd better start walking. Just as he began slipping through the woods, Rusty spotted a deer sneaking through the bottom below him and about 75 yards away.

Rusty knew it was a nice buck and put the scope of his Remington pump-action .30/06 in an opening in the timber. When the buck stepped into the shooting lane Rusty pulled the trigger. The deer dropped in its tracks and the excited hunter made his way down the steep hill to his trophy.

When Rusty got down to the buck and saw just how big it was, he let out a loud whoop. The taxidermist rough scored the 15-pointer at 181 5/8 inches before deductions.

Chris Emily's Halloween buck was a real trea

t! The Scotland County non-typical scored 172 1/8. Photo courtesy of Chris Emily.

SCOTLAND COUNTY

Thirty-three-year-old Chris Emily of St. Louis has been deer hunting since he was 6, and took his first deer at the age of 10. On the eve of Halloween last year, Chris dressed up like a bowhunter and headed to his tree stand in Scotland County. Of course he wasn't trick-or-treating but he was dressed in camouflage and did get a big treat for his efforts.

On Oct. 31, 2009, Chris Emily, his dad Don, and their good friend Don Umphress were bowhunting the 325-acre Scotland County lease where they have been chasing whitetails for the past six years. The habitat is mostly open on the lease with approximately 200 acres of agricultural fields, lots of treeline funnels and a 10-acre cedar thicket smack dab in the middle of the property. The surrounding properties are mostly all timber.

After seeing a good 8-pointer just before it was light enough to shoot on the morning of Halloween, Chris was anxious to get back into his stand that afternoon. He climbed up into his Gorilla lock-on at about 2:15.

After a 20 minute pause following a rattle-and-grunt sequence on his Primos call, Chris saw some does being harassed by a spike buck as they were moving up to the nearby cornfield. He decided to give another rattle/grunt sequence, and 5 minutes later he spotted a deer about 120 yards away. By now it was nearly 3:30. After looking at the deer through binoculars, Chris could see the buck was a real good one and so he started getting anxious.

Chris decided to grunt a few times and the buck stopped and looked downhill, right in his direction. Now the bowhunter was really getting excited.

"I gave him one more grunt and he started waking right to me," Chris recalled. "Then the walk turned into a run right down the hill to me. It took all I could do to calm myself down."

The buck got within 60 yards but a deep creek/ditch between the buck and the hunter kept it from getting closer. By that time Chris was shaking hard and that's when he spotted something out the corner of his eye. It was the giant buck just 40 yards away on the right side of the creek!

Chris ranged the buck at 43 yards and drew back his Fred Bear TRX-32 and released his arrow tipped with a 2-inch-wide Rage broadhead. He watched as the white nock disappeared into the buck and immediately saw blood spurting out its side.

The buck disappeared over a knoll and about 30 minutes later, Chris climbed down and found a heavy blood trail. He followed it a little over 100 yards to his dream buck. The huge 16-pointer later netted 172 1/8 inches as a non-typical trophy!

ADAIR COUNTY

Buddy Smith of Dittmer hunts a 440-acre tract of leased land in Adair County. The property includes heavily timbered hilltops and bottomland crops -- the perfect combination for big northern Missouri whitetails.

Dittmer bowhunter Buddy Smith arrowed this 21-pointer in Adair County near a bean field. It dscored 182 6/8 as a non-typical. Photo courtesy of Buddy Smith.

Smith has been hunting deer for 23 years and takes his favorite pastime seriously. He's been hunting the lease for the past five years and has gotten to know the land and its deer population pretty well. He has been on a lucky streak since 2001 in that before this season, he had killed four bucks that scored 130 inches or more! On Oct. 4, 2009, he didn't know just how lucky he would be!

Smith climbed into his Summit Head Hunter Lite fixed position tree stand that he'd hung at about 4 that afternoon. The stand was in a place where he has hunted in the past. It was located at the edge of a bean field where there was a heavy deer trail.

Up until 6:30, the only deer Smith saw were two button bucks, but then he heard a deer crossing the nearby creek. He looked up and saw a whitetail standing there with a branch hiding its head.

The buck started walking right toward Smith and disappeared below the high bank of the creek. Suddenly, Smith spotted the huge rack coming over the bank at just about 30 yards. The deer was on the trail that led right to his stand; at 21 yard the buck stopped to look out into the beans. The buck turned around and Smith drew his bow. That's when the buck turned back and started toward the field again.

"I grunted and he stopped for me at about 21 yards," Smith said. "He was slightly quartering toward me and I placed the arrow right behind the shoulder in the crease."With the impact of the arrow from Smith's PSE X Force Dream Season, the buck turned and bolted back across the creek and disappeared into the timber.

Smith climbed down from his stand and looked for his arrow but didn't find it. He just sat at the edge of the bean field until dark and then went back and got his friends to help search for the buck.

Later that evening, Smith returned with two of his hunting buddies to search the area. By then a total of an hour and 15 minutes had passed since the giant whitetail had disappeared into the timber after the shot.After an hour of searching they finally found the buck, only 50 yards from where Smith originally shot it. The huge 21-pointer later netted 182 6/8 inches as a non-typical.

JACKSON COUNTY

After knocking on several doors, T.J. Stastny of Columbia gained access to an archery deer hunt on about 100-acres of private property in Jackson County. After scouting the land, which includes a mix of timber and CRP, T.J. found two sets of thick woods and hung his stand between the sets of cover.

T.J. Stastny took our top bow buck of the season on 100 acres of private land in Jackson County. It netted 198 4/8. Photo courtesy of T.J. Stastny.

Later that week, on Nov. 5, T.J. was planning to hunt the property after he got off work. He arrived at his hunting spot at about 4 p.m., pulled his truck off the gravel road, grabbed his gear and began walking back to his stand.

Despite having the wind in his face, T.J. spooked six does while on the way to his stand. All he could do was watch the deer walk out of sight. When he looked up to continue walking to his hunting site, T.J. spotted another deer walking with its head down. It had a big body and T.J. assumed it was a buck.

T.J. dropped his facemask, popped an arrow on the string and watched as what turned out to be a big buck step

ped out from the cover.

"I knew he was heavy and tall and was wider than his ears, maybe a 160-class buck," T.J. recalled. "That satisfied the 150-inch minimum I placed on myself."

T.J. had to do a quick job of estimating the buck's distance if he was going to shoot. At about the same time T.J. guessed the deer to be 60 yards away, the buck raised its head and looked right at him! In one motion T.J. drew his bow, placed his 60-yard pin on the buck's vitals and released the arrow. Its flight looked true but there was not the telltale "thwack" that most archers associate with a good hit. T.J. almost immediately started doubting his shot.

T.J. is veteran of the deer woods and has a rich outdoor heritage. His dad, Frank, taught him and his brother Jason all about deer hunting and the outdoors at an early age. The fact is that 41-year-old T.J. has been deer hunting with a rifle since he was 9 and with a bow since age 14.

Experience has taught T.J. that he shouldn't look for the buck right away. Instead he went to the spot where he shot the buck to see if he could find his arrow or blood. Unfortunately, he didn't find either. He then decided to wait until the next day to try and recover the buck.

The next day, T.J.'s brother Jason drove up from Columbia to help him look for the phantom buck. They went back to the spot where the buck was standing when he launched his arrow and immediately found a heavy blood trail just 25 yards from where T.J. stopped looking the night before. After just 70 yards they found the giant whitetail piled up.

The 17-point buck was of gigantic proportions in both antler and body size. Although they didn't weigh it, T.J. estimated that the enormously bodied buck had to weigh upwards of 250 pounds; it later netted 198 4/8 inches as a non-typical -- a real Pope and Young trophy! T.J.'s Jackson County giant was the biggest arrowed in all of Missouri last season.

There you have it. Five of Missouri's best bucks taken last season, whose combined scores total nearly 900 inches of antler! As you can see, these big bucks can show up anywhere and at any time. Maybe you and your dream buck will make an appearance in Missouri Game & Fish next year!

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