Jason Erb’s longtime friend, an avid turkey hunter, referred to the whitetail deer on his property as “woods carp,” even the trophy ones.
Deer, he said, only got in the way for the pursuit of his beloved gobblers.
“He’s a huge turkey hunter,” Erb said. “(Deer) are a nuisance to him. We go turkey hunting all the time and we can see 140-, 150-inch deer, and he’ll just go, ‘Yeah, that’s nice.’ They mess up his turkey hunting.”
But even he was impressed by the monster buck Erb harvested on the property in early November.
Erb, 41, a mechanical engineer from Alliance, Ohio, dropped the behemoth 16-pointer during the final minutes of legal shooting light on Nov. 3. Its spread measured 25 5/8 inches on the inside, 27 ½ on the outside. After the mandatory 60-day drying period, its official gross score was 193-0, 175-0 net.
“Biggest deer I’ve ever killed,” he said, “and probably the biggest I’ll ever kill.”
Erb had made plans to hunt on his friend’s property that covered 600-plus acres in Columbiana County, which borders Pennsylvania in northeastern Ohio. An avid bow hunter, Erb hoped to spend as much time as possible in the woods throughout the hunting season.
“I asked my wife and I asked my boss, ‘I want to hunt as much as I can without getting divorced or fired,’ ” Erb said. “So every night I would leave (work) 45 minutes early, leaving the office at about 3:15. I would get in my truck, drive 45 minutes south of here and I would go sit in my tree.”
When he was setting his tree stand before the season, Erb was given a hint of things to come.
“I saw a deer in the field that was bigger than anything I’ve ever seen in my life, probably 400 yards away from me,” he said. “And to be honest, this might have been that deer. Still don’t know. If not, there is another big one down there.”
With a goal of shooting something in the 130 to 150 range – he had seen several on game cams set in the area – Erb hunted hard throughout the early portion of the season. Even though warmer temperatures kept him out of the woods for several days, the afternoon of Nov. 3 was his 17th day in the stand for the season.
“It was a Sunday evening,” he said. “My wife and daughters went to some play, so I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to go sit in the woods.’
“It was sunny out. There wasn’t a squirrel moving, nothing. I’m texting a couple buddies, ‘This is beautiful out here, but this stinks.’ Not even a leaf is moving.”
Sitting in a small field surrounded by woods on the first afternoon after the fall time change, there was less than a half hour of light remaining when a doe and two yearlings stepped into the field. While the youngsters monkeyed around, the doe checked out most of the field.
“She never looked up, just walked the field,” Erb said. “She gets about 10 yards away from me, tucks her tail and walks away pretty quick.
“I’ve been in the woods long enough to know something’s coming. Something made her do that and I know it wasn’t me. I know an ‘Oh crap. I smell something that doesn’t belong here.’ I know what that looks like. So I knew a buck was coming.”
Even before seeing the buck, Erb turned his Bear Attack compound bow vertical and positioned his TRU-Ball T-handle release and half-drew.
The buck first shows himself about 40 yards away, but Erb cannot see horns. It approaches a scrape about 35 yards from Erb, raises its neck and licks a limb underneath scrape.
“Now I can tell he is wide, but I can’t tell what he is,” he said.
The buck continues toward the tree stand, approaching the yearlings. At about 20 yards, he turns broadside to Erb, who is now certain it is a shooter buck. An accomplished shooter who participates in 3-D tournaments during the summer months, Erb is confident in the shot and takes it.
“I let go and everybody scatters,” he said. “Usually I don’t get down right away from my stand, but I knew everything was far enough away. The shot was 18 yards and I find two-thirds of my arrow snapped off right there. There’s a puddle of blood, so I’m good.”
He returns to his truck and waits 45 minutes, killing the time by texting buddies. He then grabs his flashlights and begins to trail the deer.
“I go back … blood, blood, blood. It’s not like I had to look very hard,” Erb said. “I’m on my track, looking up, trying to find a belly. I see a log up there and walk a little bit further. I turned back and that log wasn’t a log. It was a belly. He went about 80 yards.”
What was before him was astonishing to behold. Lying on its side, the buck’s antlers reached nearly to Erb’s upper thigh. He called his friend the landowner for assistance removing the deer.
“I get off the phone and I don’t have anyone but me and the deer,” he said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m almost crying. I’ve finally got that kind of deer. I’ve lost deer. I lost a deer 10 days before this one and it makes you sick to the point where you want to quit hunting. You feel bad for the animal whether he’s living or not.
“I’m kneeling over my deer, counting points … 9 on one side, 7 on the other. In my mind, he’s around 170 inches. So I text a couple of pictures to some buddies, and they’re like, ‘No, no, no. He’s close to 200 inches.’”At that point, the landowner arrived on his side-by-side ATV.
“It wasn’t a woods carp anymore,” Erb said. “It was the biggest deer he had ever seen in his entire life.”
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