The Split-Tine Ghost Of Adams County

The Split-Tine Ghost Of Adams County

Jason Fizer's monster crossbow trophy is one of the biggest bucks taken in Ohio last year. His great deer was a great story you won't want to miss! (January 2009)

During the late bow season in 2006, Jason Fizer found a chewed and weathered antler that led him on a hunt across the Ohio River hills in search of an elusive split-tine buck. He finally bagged it, less than 100 yards from where the big shed was found!

Jason Fizer's incredible crossbow buck features a split tine on the right beam and a total non-typical score of 191 2/8.

Photo by Tom Cross

Adams County has a reputation for producing big bucks. It only makes sense that one of the state's top whitetails would come from this rural southwestern county along the Ohio River. As it turned out, the largest buck harvested in 2007 in Adams County turned out to be the big 14-point non-typical that Fizer finally ran into on Nov. 9 of that year.

When he bagged his Adams County monster, Fizer had been hunting for only a few years. He credits the persistence of a close friend for his start in deer hunting.

"My buddy, Jesse Fisher, talked me into going hunting with him on Thanksgiving Day in 2006," Fizer said. "He had an extra crossbow I could use. That first time out, I ended up shooting at a doe and missed. But that pretty much had me hooked."

The next year, instead of borrowing his buddy's bow, Fizer purchased a used Horton crossbow and practiced with it every day during the summer.

"Late in the 2006 bow season," Fizer recalled, "while I was walking out of the woods one evening, I found a big shed antler with an unusual split tine. Whether that shed was from that year or the previous year, I don't know. I thought about that shed all summer and started hunting back there early the next archery season. But I never saw that buck -- or much of anything -- for a month."

Jason Fizer heard plenty of reports that a tall, split-tined whitetail had been seen roaming in the vicinity.

One early morning in late October, Fizer's father was driving to work at a power plant near Aberdeen when he saw a monster buck cross the road in front of his truck, near the place when his son had been hunting. He told his son Jason about the big deer.

Early one morning a few days later, Fizer's mother was driving to work and also saw the whitetail buck cross the road in that same area. (Continued)

In addition, Jason's split-tine buck was starting to receive some unwanted local attention.

"Four or five people in Manchester saw the big whitetail cross the highway," he said. "And a few local deer hunters were also looking for that tall-racked buck."

Even the owner of the property where Fizer was hunting observed the big whitetail in his backyard a week before Jason tagged it. "He watched it long enough to count seven points on one side," Fizer recalled.

A CHANGE OF PLANS

He hunted all through October, but became frustrated at not finding any sign of the buck. Toward the end of the month, he began looking around for another location.

"Somebody told me they'd spotted some nice bucks on the next ridge," Fizer said. "But I also endured some beginner's bad luck. A couple of times, I couldn't locate my tree stand in the dark and had to wait until daylight to find it. I'm sure that messed me up."

In what later proved to be a wise move, the week before he harvested his record buck, Fizer made his mind up to relocate his stand to another area nearby.

"On a Friday afternoon in early November, I was scouting a new location about 300 yards away from where I had been hunting. The area showed a lot of promise.

"At about 2 p.m. I heard the unmistakable grunt of a buck chasing a doe. I dropped to my knees and got my call out and grunted.

"The buck turned and came straight toward me, but then stopped in some brush and trees about 20 yards away and began looking around.

"All I could see was half of his rack sticking out from the trees. The buck stood frozen for a few seconds and became suspicious, got spooked and bolted. I ran over to where the buck had been standing to get a better look at him. As he was running away I could see a 5- to 6-inch drop tine hanging down from his left beam.

"He wasn't the buck I was after, but he was equally impressive. I knew this was the spot I wanted to hunt."

Fizer had renewed confidence in his new spot. Seeing the split-tined buck just added fuel to the fire.

"I went back and hunted the same spot the next day, Saturday," said Fizer. "And I saw just some does. I left my climbing stand hanging in a tree. The following week, I told Jesse he needed to go with me that weekend because I'd seen a good buck, and maybe one of us would get him."

Because of his four-day, 10-hour work schedule, Fizer is able to hunt on Fridays and Saturdays. He seldom hunts on a Sunday, reserving that day for church and family.

At dawn the following Friday, Jason Fizer and his hunting buddy were at their relocated stands.

The monster buck with the right split tine -- matching the shed antler Fizer had found the year before -- was 20 yards behind him, slowly inching closer with every cautious, silent step.

The two were hunting an area that features steep, mountainous riverside hills with cedar thickets, scatted white oaks, red oaks, maples and other hardwoods; poplars, locust trees, thick honeysuckle patches and saplings interspersed with ridgetop pastures and overgrown hayfields.

Their stands were about 150 yards apart along a ridgeline saddle with a view of the towering smokestacks of coal-fired generating plants along the Ohio River.

"At daybreak, about 60 yards away, I could just barely make out the rack on a pretty good buck that was all by itself," said Fizer, "I didn't know if it was the split-tine buck or not. I tried grunting and rattling, but the buck didn't respond."

Fizer rattled and grunted a few more times.

"It wasn't 15 minutes after I last rattled that I heard some noise directly behind my stand and to my right.

"I slowly stood up and eased around the tree to look behind me."

IT'S HIM!

The monster buck with the right split tine -- matching the shed antler Fizer had found the year before -- was 20 yards behind him, slowly inching closer with every cautious, silent step.

Then the buck turned broadside.

"I was up about 18 feet high. But the tree I was in had a big branch on its right side, so I couldn't get a clear shot at him," said Fizer. "I moved the bow around the other side of the limb as he took a few more steps. Then I grunted at him."

The huge buck, now within 12 yards of Fizer's stand, froze instantly. He lifted his head up in the air as if he sensed danger from above. That's when Fizer shot.

The arrow found its mark! The buck staggered briefly, falling against a small tree. Then he bolted away, to be swallowed up by the thickets.

And everything went deathly quiet.

"I wasn't sure where I hit him," Fizer said. "I thought I heard him crash, but he was so close and it all happened so fast. I waited in my tree stand for over an hour before I finally got down."

After the long wait, Fizer found his blood-covered arrow where the buck had stood. Quietly he backtracked to his buddy's tree stand.

As soon as Jesse saw him, Fizer gave him the thumbs up and whispered, "I got a good one."

"I thought I heard you shoot," said Fisher.

They had to track the buck only about 50 yards. The arrow had passed cleanly through the heart.

"A good one?" said Fisher. "This is the biggest buck I've ever seen in the woods!"

"When I saw him I couldn't believe it either," said Fizer. "His tines were so tall, it made his body look small."

WHAT A DEER!

Jason Schrock -- a Buckeye Big Buck Club scorer who also scored the famous Amish Buck taken in Adams County in 2006 -- officially measured Fizer's big split-tine buck.

The big split-tine buck's G-2s and Gs all measured more than 10! In the final scoring, The 10'‚2/8-inch G-3 split tine on the right side was ultimately deducted, giving the deer a score of 189'‚7/8 and, costing Fizer a shot at placing the buck on the prestigious list as one of the top typicals of all time.

That deduction, however, was not applied to the non-typical score.

Fizer's buck netted a final score of 191'‚2/8 non-typical, making it the top non-typical buck taken with a bow in Ohio last season.

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