October 26, 2021
By Josh Honeycutt
Oklahoma is one of the most overlooked, underrated deer-hunting destinations in the country. The Sooner State is primed with big deer, and lots of them, but a good many hunters continue to look elsewhere when chasing monster whitetails.
Those who call Oklahoma home know what's up, though, including Clay Algeo.
Algeo hunts family land in the northeastern region of the state, and spends almost every weekend on the property, whether he's hunting, fishing, managing habitat or just relaxing. He's very familiar with the area, and knows where deer frequent, including the best bedding areas.
He also knew he had a 4 1/2-year-old giant on camera.
"I have been watching this deer for 3 years," Algeo said. "I first took notice of him as a 2 1/2-year-old. As a 3 1/2-year-old, he grew into a 150-inch deer. I knew if I passed him, he had the potential to be something special. I closely monitored the deer via glassing and trail cameras. This summer, his growth exceeded my expectations."
Monster Oklahoma Typical
Hunter: Clay Algeo
Date: October 4, 2021
Location: Owasso, Oklahoma
Method: Compound Bow
Score: 185 inches (gross)
Algeo spent the first few days of October glassing this buck from a distance.
"I watched his main feeding area from afar, as the wind was not right to go in for the first three days [of the season]," Algeo said. "Each evening, he came into the main feeding pasture right where I expected him."
On Oct. 4, a cold front moved through, which brought a brisk northeasterly breeze, a wind direction Algeo could work with. The air was cold and dry and the barometric pressure was rising. Algeo expected good deer movement.
As he slowly eased along a low-impact entry route, he couldn't help but admire the rolling pastures mixed with dense shrubs. It's typical Oklahoma ground, and it's home. He loves it here. He also loves the dense bedding and edge cover he decided to set up on. Algeo selected a tree-stand location between two ponds that create a natural pinch point on the property.
Earlier in the year, he spent some time downing trees in that area to blockade all but one lane that led into the pasture. This funneled virtually all the deer movement out of the bedding area and right by his stand location.
Upon settling in, he immediately started scanning for movement. He glassed the 10 acres of pasture and native grasses in front of him, as well as the edges of cover to his left, right and rear.
"It was a clear evening, with the sweet smell of big bluestem grass filling the air as the sun was setting and the cooler air settling in," Algeo recalled. "The breeze was light, but constant, keeping my wind blowing over the pond. Cardinals, doves, crows and hawks were active, fluttering and flying through the thickets. The woods were coming alive as the sun was setting. I knew the deer would be on their feet and pouring into the fields to feed."
While the action started a little later than expected, he wasn't wrong. About an hour before sunset, does and fawns began walking into the pasture. Then, younger bucks began doing the same. With about 30 minutes of good shooting light left, a big, mature 6½-year-old buck walked out, but it wasn't the one Algeo was after. Five minutes after that, another mature buck appeared.
"Anticipation and nerves were rising," he said. "I knew my buck would appear any minute, as he typically cruised with the two mature bucks already in the field. With 15 minutes of light left, I saw his antlers bobbing through the brush, coming right down my trail. My heart was racing. This was the moment I had been waiting and preparing for. He stopped 5 yards from the clearing, analyzing the pasture."
The buck scanned the field, signaled the all-clear, and walked out. Algeo slowly drew his bow and held for about 15 seconds until the buck offered an opportunity. Once it did, he settled the pin and took the 20-yard shot. The buck took off and fell over in the pasture.
"This was the climax of a three-year quest," Algeo said. "Truly amazing for a free-range whitetail. Rarely do plans come together exactly how you want them to. This was a case where everything came together perfectly. The perfect wind. The deer following the script. The perfect shot. I couldn't be happier with this deer and this hunt. The process was fun. I am filled with joy and relief with this harvest and couldn't be more thankful for the animal and the opportunity."
He thanks his father, Tom Algeo, and good friend and colleague, Chris DeLong, for their help in setting the property up and strategizing for the hunt. All the quality time he was able to spend with them made the experience even better. He'll cherish the memories forever, but he admits there’s more to it than big racks and time spent with family.
"Deer hunting for me is much deeper than hunting an animal," Algeo said. "The time spent with my family and friends is much more important to me than the hunt itself. Most importantly, the time spent in the tree stand by myself, allows me to pray and draw closer to the Lord, admiring all his creation."
To top it off, Algeo's wife was due to have their third child on Oct. 8, only four days after he shot the giant buck.
"I knew I had to go for an early season harvest," he said. "That helped me plan and execute my hunt for this buck with precision and detail and a heightened level of anxiousness as I knew my third child would be born very soon."