New York'™s Top Buck From 2006?

Bob Cuozzo had a feeling that his 2006 hunting season would be a memorable one. But he had no idea that he'd shoot the biggest buck in the state last year! (July 2007)

The Cuozzo buck green-scored 212 Boone and Crockett points to make it the largest non-typical buck taken in the Northeast last season.
Photo courtesy of Bob Cuozzo.

During the hunting season, Bob Cuozzo of Pine City had a sense that maybe something good would happen for him -- something that would honor the great memories he had with his dad, who had passed away during Thanksgiving Week.

Sure enough, on opening day of the Pennsylvania gun season, Cuozzo managed to shoot a big buck. The whole event felt eerily connected to the death of his dad. At the very moment that he gazed on his nice Keystone State trophy, intuition told him that he would get an even a better buck in his home state of New York.

His intuition proved right. Only a short time later, Cuozzo tagged what would turn out to be the best buck of New York's 2006 season!

Cuozzo originally hails from Pennsylvania and started hunting at the tender age of 12. It took him nine years before he downed his first buck, but since then, Cuozzo has shot 73 bucks!

Cuozzo now works as a biology teacher in New York, near the Pennsylvania border. He hunts both states regularly and has killed big-bodied, big-racked bucks in both states. An avid hunter, he makes use of opportunities to hunt archery, shotgun, rifle and muzzleloader seasons. He also bowhunts for elk in Colorado.

His dad hunted when Cuozzo was younger, but didn't have much time to get away. Over the last three years his dad had been in a nursing home, where he struggled with Parkinson's disease. Every day during the week, Cuozzo dropped by to take his dad out for a ride until his health got worse.

At the age of 8, Cuozzo was actually adopted by his aunt and uncle, who took on the responsibility of raising him as their own. While Cuozzo certainly felt a sense of sadness when his dad passed away on the Monday before Thanksgiving, he also felt gratitude for the time they'd had together.

And he felt a sense that this hunting season would be something special. His opening-day success in Pennsylvania certainly supported his intuition. But an upcoming Empire State hunt would ensure that his 2006 hunting season would literally go into the record books.

DESTINY CALLS

On Wednesday, Dec. 6, Cuozzo made plans for an early-morning drive on a farm that he and his friends had hunted many times before. He planned to get a flu shot early, and then meet his five hunting buddies about 8:30 a.m. They had planned to conduct two drives that day.

As it turned out, the first one would be more than enough.

The first areas they chose to push were a relatively small, brushy lot and a pine grove. Cuozzo was one of three standers. Two other friends would push through the brush and pines. Cuozzo sat at a good vantage point for about 10 minutes. From the ridge, he could see the area around him.

The deer stopped about 45 yards below him, but Cuozzo still could not see the second deer, hidden behind some trees.

Soon after the start of the drive, he saw two deer, running up the bank toward him. As they neared him, he saw that one was definitely a doe.

The deer stopped about 45 yards below him, but Cuouzzo still could not see the second deer, hidden behind some trees.

He kept watching until suddenly both deer turned and looked down the hill. As they turned, he now saw that the second deer was a buck, but he had no idea how big it was.

The doe started to walk away to the right. Cuozzo assumed that the buck would follow, so he pulled up his shotgun -- a new Savage Model 210 in 12 gauge -- and held on the opening. As the buck walked into his scope's field of view, Cuozzo saw antlers and instinctively took the shot.

Following the blast, the two deer disappeared. Cuozzo remembered that a cornfield lay behind him and figured the deer would run in that direction, so he went up to find if could see them.

After waiting about five minutes, he saw nothing. So he went back to where he had shot at the deer. When he got back, his friends had completed their drive.

Cuozzo went down to where he had shot at the buck, and found a small bench where the deer had been standing. He followed in the direction he thought the deer must have gone after the shot, but to his dismay, he saw no blood or hair -- no sign whatsoever.

An experienced hunter, Cuozzo knew that he needed to keep his cool and calmly continue to look for sign. He walked another 15 yards, but still found nothing.

Then another 15 paces later, Cuozzo saw his buck. The first thing he noticed was the huge rack sticking up from the leaves. He was surprised at how big it was.

He immediately thought of his dad.

As Cuozzo and his friends looked over the great buck, he still didn't fully appreciate how big it was. The other guys seemed far more impressed with it than he was, but despite their enthusiasm, Cuozzo still didn't think it was that big. But the more everyone talked about the buck, the more Cuozzo began to understand just how big his buck was.

After getting the buck out of the woods and back to the barn, Cuozzo took it over to show a neighbor, who said that he had seen that buck several times and even seen while walking his dog. The deer had been tearing apart trees on his property.

Later, after the buck's photo was put out on the Internet, and after word spread around town, he learned that some neighbors had three years' worth of the deer's sheds, all from the left side.

He also learned that one of his hunting partners had taken photos of the same buck the previous summer! So as it turned out, this monster buck had been quite visible and willing to show himself throughout the year.

The next day, Cuozzo brought the buck to his taxidermist, who gave him the name of New York State Big Buck Club scorer Merritt Compton. Merritt green-scored the buck at 212 gross Boone and Crockett points, and 206 4/8 inches net.

Later, measurers from the NYSBBC, the Northeast Big Buck Club and the B&C got together to

panel-score the deer for all three organizations.

On the all-time list for bucks from New York, this buck ranks very high. It is the Northeast Big Buck Club's largest buck from 2006, and ranks at the top of their listings for non-typicals killed with a shotgun. It surpasses the great 17-point non-typical killed in Ontario County by Andy Hall in 2005, which scored 201 6/8 gross B&C points.

The NBBC also reports that according to their most recent records, it is the largest gross-scoring buck killed by a hunter in the entire Northeast during the 2006 season.

Many other great bucks were taken during New York's 2006 season, some of which you will see featured in upcoming issues of this magazine. Some of the bigger bucks scored by the NBBC for 2006 include the amazing Lewis County 17-point non-typical that James Mastroianni killed with a bow. That buck gross-scored 187 7/8 points and 166 5/8 net Pope and Young points.

Mastroianni also shot a 163 6/8-inch 10-pointer with his shotgun during the 2006 gun season!

Speaking of shotguns, Stephan Bailey took a great 17-point non-typical in Wayne County that scored 183 2/8 gross and 177 1/8 net B&C points. That buck dressed out at 215 pounds.

Muzzleloader enthusiasts will enjoy Frank Waltman's Livingston County typical 10-pointer that grossed 168 1/8 and netted 161 5/8 B&C points.

Be sure to watch for future issues of this magazine to see more about these and other great bucks from 2006 in New York!

FOR YOUR INFORMATION

For more information about the Northeast Big Buck Club or to purchase Northeast Trophy Whitetails V, their new hardcover record book, call (508) 752-8762, visit the club's Web site at www.bigbuckclub.com, or e-mail jbhunts@aol.com.

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