November 09, 2021
Kevin Miller had two years of history with a buck he called "Blades."
"I have thousands of trail camera pictures of him from 2020 and 2021," Miller recently told Game & Fish. "I have a buddy a few miles down the road that had him for three years prior as well, which helped give us a good age on him."
Miller lost count of how many days he hunted the buck during the 2020 season. During the off-season, he gained permission on nearby properties and was able to learn more about the deer. This drastically changed how Miller hunted it this year.
'Blades’ Buck Scores 200-Plus
- Hunter: Kevin Miller
- Date: October 17, 2021
- Location: Portage County, Ohio
- Method: Crossbow
- Score: 203 3/8 inches
On Oct. 17, Miller set out for his ninth attempt this season at arrowing the buck. A cold front had pushed through, dropping the temperature about 20 degrees bring the wind direction he needed to hunt the giant.
Filled with confidence, he slowly walked through the hills to get to his stand, which was located on the side of a ridge opposite a cornfield. The lay of the land prevented him from hunting mornings, so he opted for an afternoon sit.
"I was just inside the wood line in some acorn trees, which is on the highest point of the property," Miller said. "The terrain slightly falls downhill away into more cornfields. To my left is another cornfield that is slightly lower than the ridge I'm on, with a good thicket running a long way in front of me."
Upon arriving at his hunting location, he freshened up his scrapes and climbed into the stand. After settling in, he started scanning his surroundings for movement. It took some time, but wildlife eventually started moving. Turkeys kicked off the action and scratched in the leaves all around him. Then, a small 8-pointer showed up and walked by. The buck and turkeys departed, leaving him in silence once again.
Then, the giant walked into view. It materialized 25 yards away, working a scrape. It worked the ground and licking branch for about five minutes. Then, it bedded down for another five minutes before getting back up and turning to walk away.
"Once I saw him on the scrape, and realized it was him in front of me, all I can remember is staring at him and trying not to pass out," Miller said. "I could hear my heartbeat, it seemed. [It] was my first time ever seeing him in person. He was always two steps in front of me … until I discovered a pattern and flaw in his system that ultimately gave me the opportunity to take him."
Miller had a small shooting lane 48 yards out, and it appeared the buck would walk right through it.
"My teeth were chattering and knees shaking like I’ve never experienced before," he said. "I had the bow up waiting for him to get in the lane and started squeezing the trigger."
The arrow flew true and struck the buck square in the vitals. It ran off, but Miller knew it wouldn't go far. He couldn't get words out for nearly half an hour, but then called the landowner for help retrieving the deer.
"Most never see a deer this big in person," Miller said. "It was a bit of shock. Most people said my dad was with me for this to happen. He passed away in March 2020. Sadly, I didn't get to share this with him in person. But I carry his wallet in my hunting jacket, so he was no doubt there with me looking down."
Miller knows this is a once-in-many-lifetimes buck, and to put his tag on it means the world to him. With hard work and a great support system, anything is possible.
" 'Blades' has consumed my life the last two years," Miller said. "I wrote on a calendar the days and times he showed up, what camera [and] on what wind. I never dreamed he would gross over 200 inches. He was a 7 ½-year-old buck in a heavily hunted area. It became about trying to outsmart him and learn everything I could. The hunt that evening was like a dream come true and couldn't have been more perfect."