Steven Calderwood's amazing Steuben County bow kill may well be the biggest archery buck taken in New York last season. Here's his remarkable story. (August 2009)
Steven Calderwood's huge 11-point bow kill scores 167 6/8 gross B&C points. The G-2 measures 12 inches even!
Photo courtesy of Steven Calderwood.
Steuben County is well known for producing plenty of bucks each deer season, plus some of New York's best gun bucks each year. In 2008, it would be a huge archery typical, a deer that just might be the Empire State's best archery typical buck of 2008!
Steven Calderwood and his wife, Deborah, residents of Prattsburgh, own Edge of Time Trading Post, a local archery and hunting pro shop. As one might guess, they are avid bowhunters! They practice and plan 12 months out of the year for just one moment -- a moment like Calderwood experienced in 2008!
Calderwood is no stranger to big bucks. He has been hunting since he was 12 years old and has taken several nice deer over the years. He shot a 152-inch typical 8-pointer with his bow in 2006 in southern Illinois, and a 135-inch non-typical in New Hampshire in 1994. Like most hunters, he has shot a good number of smaller bucks and many does, but since 2000, he and his wife have focused on only shooting 8-pointers (or better) that score at least 125. And, Calderwood has become exclusively a bowhunter.
THE WORK BEGINS
In summer 2007, the couple finally "bought the farm," 111 acres of overgrown fields, swampy woodlands, and neglected apple trees with a large, deep creek that runs along the entire back property line. Included were an old, gutted farmhouse and a decrepit barn. Calderwood's hunting seasons were usually spent on other people's land, both public and private. This would be the first time he owned enough land to hunt on, and he planned to maximize its potential.
Because they didn't close on the property until late summer, there wasn't much time for pre-season scouting. The couple really wanted to begin managing the land for wildlife but didn't want to push any deer out of their established bedding or feeding areas. So, they quickly installed a couple of tree stands on the edge of the fields, figuring the first season would be one of mainly observation.
They were pleasantly surprised with sightings of six to 10 deer every afternoon, with most coming into the fields to eat.
They were rewarded with two deer that first season, and were now well educated regarding the farm's deer movements. They were very much looking forward to planting food plots next year!
The Calderwoods worked hard on the farm during the summer of 2008. They allowed a neighbor to plant corn and to mow the fields in exchange for tilling the first food plot area, a one-acre stretch of turnips, brassica and clover on the edge of the wood line where the deer were coming out to feed.
The couple put up trail cameras and scouted the beaten trails in the woods. The deer were bedding down deep in the swampy woods, coming out late to cross the open fields to get to the apple trees. They planted an area that would intercept the whitetails' natural travels, giving the deer plenty of reason to stop and feed. They hoped their callused hands and long days would soon bear fruit.
About two weeks before the archery season, they moved the trail cameras to see if any of the deer's' travel patterns had changed. All summer they captured does on film, a nice mix of young 4- and 6-pointers, and even a few nice 8-pointers.
But one day late summer everything changed -- the cameras revealed that there was a monster 14-pointer on their farm! They hoped the farm had good potential when they bought it, but this buck exceeded their expectations! They dubbed him "Gigantor," and anxiously awaited opening day!
The couple had decided as part of their management plan to only harvest bucks with 8 points or better and a select number of does.
Calderwood sat in an afternoon stand on Oct. 18, his first hunt of the bow season. He saw a reasonable number of deer but no shooters.
The next day temperatures dipped and Calderwood picked a stand on the edge of a food plot near several major trails that deer used on their way to the apple trees. As proved by the trail cams, the deer usually didn't hit the apples until dusk, so he hoped that by splitting the distance he would catch them early in the afternoon.
While climbing into his stand, Calderwood had a 6-pointer come out underneath him.
Hmmm, what would this afternoon bring? he thought hopefully.
Over the next hour, a half-dozen does and small bucks appeared in the food plot, tempted by the sweet turnip greens. Things looked promising!
At a little after 5:30 p.m., the woods erupted into action. Calderwood heard what sounded "like a charging bull crashing through the timber" about 100 yards behind the stand -- and it was getting closer.
The hunter froze in position as the crashing continued until it was right under his stand. The brush was too thick for Calderwood to even catch a glimpse of what was causing the ruckus!
Time stood still as the anxious hunter waited, heart beating, while the deer stood still just below him in the underbrush. Calderwood could detect movement below, but still couldn't make out the cause of the ruckus in the thick brush.
Just step into the field, he thought, and show me what you're made of.
As the deer turned through the hedgerow into the field, tree limbs cracked and the buck snapped his head up, now focused on the does in the field.
Is this Gigantor? thought Calderwood, but he didn't have time to count the points. He knew this was a shooter, and tried to focus on making a good shot.
Calderwood drew his bow, found his target, and released. The arrow flew true and hit its mark, and the big buck reacted by exploding into a death run 40 yards across the field, where it promptly fell in the tall grass!
Sitting in his stand, Calderwood could see the monster buck lying there, but knew he had to give it some time. The next 20 minutes felt like hours, and then he finally climbed down and went over to where the big buck lay.
Those final steps felt like slow motion . . . and there was "Gigantor," the very same monster buck that the C
alderwoods had caught on film!
News around the small town traveled fast. Hunters came from all over to take pictures of the 14-pointer. For some, this might be the biggest local buck they would see in their lifetimes.
Over the next month, e-mails and photos were flying. People were coming into the store just to hear the story and see the pictures. Gigantor was already giving local hunters hope and building anticipation for the coming season!
THE CALDERWOOD BUCK
Calderwood later met with scorers who represented all the major scoring organizations including the Northeast Big Buck Club, Pope and Young, Boone and Crockett. Paul Daniels officially scored the buck after the 60-day mandatory drying period, and the outcome was worth the wait!
The gross B&C score of this impressive buck was 167 6/8 typical. The buck had 11 typical points, with two additional abnormal points. After deductions for the abnormal points, as well as asymmetry deductions, the buck tallied a net score of 156 1/8 typical.
The inside spread of the rack was just under 20 inches, and the main beams tallied roughly 24 inches each. The buck had very good tine length, with the right G-2 measuring 12 inches and the left at 11 4/8 inches. The buck also had excellent mass, with base circumferences of 5 2/8 and 5 4/8 inches.
At the time this article was written, the Calderwood buck was the largest gross-scoring archery typical taken in New York in 2008, according to the Northeast Big Buck Club. (An archery non-typical has been recorded, a deer that gross scores in the high 170s.)
STEUBEN ON A ROLL?
Several other great bucks have been arrowed in Steuben County in the last decade, including one of the largest gross-scoring bucks ever arrowed in New York (the Taft buck).
It certainly has begun to build a reputation as a great bowhunting destination as more hunters take advantage of its archery hunting opportunities. Either way, Steuben County has produced many of the state's top bucks over the years.
For more information about the Northeast Big Buck Club, visit the club's Web site at www.bigbuckclub. com, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a copy of the latest record book, write to NBBC, 390 Marshall Street, Paxton, MA 01612.