Detroit's Mike Marcum is usually a meat hunter, but on Nov. 6 he was glad he held out for the buck of a lifetime.
Mike Marcum's 18-point bowkill had a final score of 195 3/8 non-typical inches.
Photo by Richard P. Smith
Mike Marcum from Detroit usually shoots does for the meat, but it's a good thing he held back on one when bowhunting on Nov. 6, 2004. It was a doe that was responsible for Marcum killing one of the highest-scoring bow-bagged bucks in our state last fall. The 18-point non-typical he arrowed in Washtenaw County had a gross score of 208 0/8 inches and netted 195 3/8 inches, according to Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM).
That score is high enough to qualify the buck for entry in national records maintained by the Boone and Crockett Club in addition to the Pope and Young records. P&Y only accepts bowkills, and their minimum for non-typical whitetails is 150 inches. B&C accepts both gun and bowkills that meet their stringent standards. Their minimum for non-typicals is 195 inches.
It only takes a non-typical score of 125 for archery kills to make it into Michigan records. The Marcum buck will rank fourth among non-typicals taken in Washtenaw County, according to the sixth edition of Michigan Big-Game Records. Two out of the three larger ones were also taken with bow and arrow.
Ronald (Rick) Chabot bagged the county's No. 1 non-typical in 1996 with archery equipment. The 18-pointer scored 203 6/8 inches. Donnie Bollinger arrowed a 22-pointer in 1998 that measured 200 1/8. Larry Mettetal took a 16-pointer scoring 200 6/8 with a firearm in 1978.
Washtenaw County is one of the best in our state for producing big-racked bucks. Besides the four non-typical Booners for the county mentioned, a total of seven typical-antlered whitetails that meet B&C's minimum of 170 are listed in CBM's most recent record book, all of which were taken with firearms. The best of those is a 10-pointer scoring 186 1/8 inches Mark Ritchie got in 1984.
On a statewide basis, the antlers from Marcum's buck will rank 11th among non-typical bowkills, according to the most recent CBM book. The rack is the second-highest scoring bowkill known taken for our state from 2004, being beaten by the new state-record non-typical tagged by Aaron Davis in Hillsdale County. The Davis buck netted 225 7/8 inches after panel measuring. (See the July issue of Michigan Sportsman for details on the hunt for that buck).
With the rut starting to kick into high gear during early November, that's prime time for bowhunters to have a chance at trophy bucks, as Marcum found out. He reached his tree stand in a "nasty" swamp after 4 p.m. on Nov. 6. A friend of his was set up about 100 yards away.
Marcum wasn't in position more than 10 minutes when a doe showed up. Then another doe appeared behind him.
"That second doe made a call and deer came out of the woods everywhere," Marcum said. "It was a deep call like a grunt rather than a bleat. It was a really short call."
One of the deer that was approaching in response to the doe's call was coming from a thicket, and it was making a lot of noise as it walked. That whitetail proved to be the big buck. Marcum heard it coming for about 30 seconds before he saw it.
Marcum said he also saw a second buck, but he only got a glimpse of it, enough to see part of one antler. He wasn't sure how big its rack was. Marcum wasn't the only one who had deer around him. An 8-pointer came within bow range of his friend around the time the big non-typical made an appearance near Marcum. Marcum's buddy released an arrow at the 8-point but missed.
The errant arrow spooked the 8-pointer and that buck ran by Marcum's stand, then started blowing and stomping a front foot in alarm. In response to that commotion, the trophy whitetail Marcum was hoping to get a shot at started to leave. However, the doe that had made the call that attracted the attention of so many deer did something that changed the trophy buck's mind. She urinated and the mature buck immediately went to that spot to find out if she was ready to breed. Bucks can determine if does are in estrus by smelling their urine. While sampling the urine in their nasal passage, bucks will often perform a lip curl. Before doing that, the antlered whitetail rubbed his forehead on a nearby sapling.
Marcum figured he had better take the first shot opportunity he could at that point before something else happened. The doe had moved off when the buck approached her, and the buck was sure to soon follow the doe. When the once-in-a-lifetime buck took a step away from the sapling where it rubbed its forehead, Marcum saw a small opening he thought he could get an arrow through, so he prepared for the shot.
The distance of the shot was about 30 yards. Marcum's 55-pound pull compound bow was fitted with a sight set for 20 yards. The deer was angling toward him. Because of the distance of the shot, he aimed a little high. The aluminum arrow tipped with a 125-grain broadhead entered the neck in front of the shoulder and angled downward. As soon as the shaft connected, the buck dropped but then got back up and stumbled 10 yards before falling for good.
"The arrow broke off in the buck's heart," Marcum said. "This is the first deer I've ever shot that the arrow never went all the way through."
Marcum said he has been bowhunting since 1982, and he has shot a lot of deer with bow and arrow, including some bucks. But this deer was, by far, his biggest. The monster buck had a dressed weight of 225 pounds and was aged at 5 1/2 years old.
"I prefer to shoot does, to be honest with you," Marcum said. "I like the meat."
Most of the deer he has taken have been does. He shot three deer during the fall of 2003, for instance, and they were all antlerless. He has been hunting the spot where he got the book buck for seven years. Marcum used to have to walk through a lot of muck and mud to reach his hot stand in the swamp. He finally got tired of doing that and spent a week putting wooden pallets on top of the mud so he can walk on those. The pallets make the walk to and from the stand easier.
The doe had moved off when the buck approached her, and the buck was sure to soon follow the doe. When the once-in-a-lifetime buck took a step away from the sapling where it rubbed its forehead, Marcum saw a small opening he thought he could get an arrow through, so he prepared for the shot.
Two years ago, Marcum
was hunting in the same area during firearms season using a shotgun he inherited from his father, and he got a shot at a big buck but he missed. He's not sure if the deer he got during 2004 is the same one he missed with the shotgun.
Referring to his 2004 success, Marcum said, "I had to stand up and shoot behind me when I got that buck. I don't think anything would have bothered this deer. He was only concerned with that doe."
However, he added that if the buck had followed the same course the doe did -- going to the right instead of to the left -- he wouldn't have been able to get a shot at the deer.
Marcum washes all of his hunting clothes in baking soda to reduce the chances of being smelled by deer. He also puts baking soda under his arms and in his hair.
The impressive buck's antlers have a typical 13-point frame, with an unmatched typical point on the left beam. Four of the 5 non-typical tines are on the left antler. The only non-typical point on the right antler is a short drop tine measuring 3 4/8 inches. Total length of the non-typical tines is 10 7/8 inches.
Five of the typical tines are 9 or more inches in length, with three of those exceeding 10 inches. The right beam is 25 5/8 inches long and the left is 26 4/8. The inside spread between the beams is 19 5/8 inches. The antler bases are also heavy. The base of the left antler is 6 inches in circumference and the right is 5 7/8.
There were a lot of deductions for symmetry, totaling 12 5/8 inches. Lack of symmetry between 3 points amounted to almost half of those deductions. There was a 3 6/8 inch difference in the length of the fifth tine on each antler (4 2/8 versus 8 inches), for instance, and since there was no sixth point on the right antler to match the one on the left, it resulted in another 2 3/8 inches of deductions.
(Editor's note: For more reading about Michigan's biggest bucks including other high-ranking bowkills, refer to books 1, 2 and 3 of Great Michigan Deer Tales. Autographed copies can be ordered from Smith Publications, 814 Clark St., Marquette, MI 49855. The three-book set costs $40 postpaid. Book 4 will be available by September. Until Sept. 1, orders for Book 4 can be placed for $10 each).