The amazing run of huge trophy bucks from Oklahoma continues in 2017, this time with a massive southwestern Sooner State bruiser dubbed Boomer by whitetail hunter Bill Nadeau.
On the afternoon of Nov. 4, 2017 in Stillwater, Okla., the annual Bedlam football game between the University of Oklahoma and in-state rival Oklahoma State University took place in front of a sold-out crowd at Boone Pickens Stadium.
By game's end â€“ which OU won 62-52 in electrifying last-minute fashion â€“ pigskin fans across the Sooner State were left emotionally wrung out in the aftermath of a thrilling gridiron game that showcased two of the nation's top collegiate football programs.
Less than 24-hours earlier, the Sooner State continued another impressive run, this time in the whitetail world as yet another possible 200-class Oklahoma buck was tagged in the state's southwestern corner.
Taken by 55-year old Bill Nadeau, a passionate college football fan, archer, and muzzleloader hunter from the Lawton, Okla. area, the story of this huge buck actually began a couple of autumns ago when the hunter first spied the deer after pulling SD cards from a handful of game cameras strategically placed on property he hunts.
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"The only problem is that all of the photos I got of him â€“ I've always called him Boomer - were always in the dead of the night, never in the daylight hours during the season," said Nadeau.
Why a nickname of Boomer? Nadeau laughs and says that is because his favorite football team is the Oklahoma Sooners, whose rally cry is Boomer Sooner!
"I shot a 160-class buck last year, the best I've ever taken with my bow," said Nadeau, who guides quail hunters and raises bird dogs on the side. "Before the season last year, when I first saw that particular deer on camera, I nicknamed him Poke."
For those who aren't familiar with the Sooner State's college football landscape, Poke is a term of endearment - Go Pokes! - used by Oklahoma State fans for their beloved Cowboys and mascot Pistol Pete.
"The reason I named the buck Poke last year is that I knew that Boomer was bigger and better," laughed Nadeau.
Even so, Boomer had remained quite elusive.
"He's grown over the last couple of years as I've gotten about 50 photos of him," said Nadeau. "But my photos every year have come in the middle of September, in the middle of the night as he would come in on a couple of trails that were going to and from a feeder.
"I'd see him for a couple of weeks, then he'd disappear again."
So nocturnal was Boomer that the southwestern Oklahoma hunter had never seen the deer alive on the hoof, only images of an otherwise ghostly big antlered apparition.
But that all changed a few days before the Bedlam football game as Nadeau hunted other property near the Lawton-area home that he shares with his wife Connie.
"I hunt a lot on a place that is about 45 minutes away from where I live because I see a lot of bucks, but nothing like him," said Nadeau, a father of four adult children. "On one particular evening as I came home, I stopped and pulled a couple of camera cards. When I put the cards in the computer, there he was, standing in front of one of my cameras in daylight."
As Nadeau searched through the photos, he discovered that the buck had actually shown up in front of the same camera a couple of nights in a row during the last minutes of legal shooting light.
With a forecasted cool front about to move in, the hunter made a strategic decision about his hunt the next day, knowing that the buck was coming in with only minutes of shooting time to spare. Meaning that instead of hunting an established stand site near his camera, he would gamble and build a ground blind in a new spot.
"I moved over to where I thought he might be coming from because I needed a few extra minutes to get a crack at him during legal shooting light," said Nadeau.
On Friday evening, as the hunter anticipated the big football game the next day, everything finally came together.
"As I was sitting there, a doe came in," said Nadeau, noting that she acted like a doe coming into estrous, flicking and licking at her tail.
"She went back to where she had come from, then suddenly bolted away," he added. "I looked up and he suddenly materialized about 40 yards away. I got the hammer cocked on my .50 caliber CVA Optima Pro muzzleloader, put the scope on him, and pulled the trigger."
In typical smokepole fashion, a cloud of muzzleloader gun smoke enveloped Nadeau's hide and he was left for a moment wondering what had just transpired in the blink of an eye.
"There really wasn't any time for any buck fever to take hold," he said. "But that's the way it is during the rut a lot of times, they are just suddenly there. I really don't think the rut can be overrated â€“ these rascals are hard to kill when they are mature."
While the blood trail wasn't as heavy as he had hoped for, Nadeau didn't have much trouble finding the deer. When he walked up on Boomer, Nadeau couldn't believe the size of the buck's body — the 5 ½-year old whitetail field dressed at 195-pounds — let alone the size of his antlers.
"He's a main-frame 12-point typical with a few extra kickers," said Nadeau of a deer that seems likely to qualify for the Boone and Crockett Club record book. "He's got 16-points total, his main beams measure at more than 26-inches on each side, and his mass measurements are five-inches plus near the base and four-inches plus farther out on the rack.
"I'm really feeling blessed," he added. "Who would have thought I'd get an awesome buck named Poke one year then another awesome buck named Boomer the next? I guess you could say that is an antlered version of bedlam."
After processing the venison for the freezer, Nadeau — who is a man of deep Christian faith — had a chance to sit back and reflect on what had transpired.
"Really, all I did was pull the trigger," he said. "In the end, it's all about God because He created the deer, the splendor of the outdoors, and the magnitude of what we get to enjoy deer hunting. And He's the one who gives me the health, the time, and the funds to do this. So I want to glorify God for all of this, not claim I'm some big special hunter."
While many hunters understand such sentiment, they also understand â€“ after one look at the big antlered Boomer â€“ that Oklahoma is rapidly becoming a go-to spot for deer hunters.
No matter what college football team you root for.