Here's the story of how one Long Island hunter killed the biggest bow-kill non-typical in New York last season. (July 2010)
New York State is a diverse hunting habitat that produces great bucks from east to west, north to south. The Adirondack Mountains are steeped in deer hunting tradition, with great trackers and still hunters roaming the ridges and draws. The central and western farm country is a great mix of food, hedgerows and big woods -- a veritable deer hunters' paradise. But southern New York holds some of the best bow-hunting opportunities in the state.
Bjorn Holubar with his massive buck, which had a gross score of 211 2/8 inches and a net Pope & Young score of 202 5/8 inches -- the largest bow kill taken in New York last season.
Photo by Jeff Brown.
In counties like Westchester and Suffolk, suburban bucks in little pockets of woods can grow old without ever seeing a deer hunter. In these densely populated counties, access to hunting land is a big challenge, and even limited hunting pressure on small pieces of woods can make it tough to get close to a big buck. It takes a combination of access to good properties, careful planning, flawless execution, and a good dose of optimism to put a hunter in the right place at the right time.
Bjorn Holubar of Long Island found himself in that position last season, and the result was this state's biggest gross-scoring archery buck of the year, and possibly of all-time!
At 41 years old, Holubar has been hunting and running pointing labs since he was 8-years-old. He started shooting .22's, then worked his way up to shotguns, hunting rabbits and grouse in upstate New York and Maine. He switched to ducks and pheasants on Long Island when he was in high school. It wasn't until 1984 that his father introduced him to deer hunting in the Adirondacks. He froze his toes off, literally, that first day of deer hunting, but he would not be deterred.
He spent the next six to eight years still-hunting the Adirondacks, Vermont, Western NY, Maine and Canada with his gun, and shot several deer each year, including a few nice "little wall hangers." He picked up a bow for the first time in 1995 and although he enjoyed using it, he was a big fan of jump shooting deer with a rifle during still-hunts. But as time passed he switched to still-hunting with a bow.
Over time Holubar realized that he had many more opportunities to hunt locally on Long Island with a bow, and he began using it exclusively. He "put down" the rifle for deer in NY in 2000, and never looked back.
As time has passed he transitioned from hunting public lands to hunting little private parcels, as well as some select public lands between subdivisions. He gained permission to hunt several 10-20 acre suburban pieces, but these small pieces can only be hunted a few times a year. Over the years he has perfected a careful approach to hunting these small pieces, and it was beginning to pay off!
Holubar arrowed several nice bucks on Long Island in recent years. A few very large bucks were lost to other hunters, which is always a potential problem when hunting these small pieces of land. His best "recovered buck" was a 120-class, and he also took a bunch of 110-120-inch bucks. He even shot a big non-typical that would have scored around 170 if one side had not been a spike!
NO ONE KNEW HE WAS THERE!Despite the size of this great buck, and the fact that it had been roaming these woods for several years, Holubar had never seen this deer before. He was hunting a 150-class buck in the area, and had shot a wild looking non-typical in this area several years earlier, but as mentioned earlier, the deer had a spike on one side, so it did not score well.
It is amazing that even though the area gets hunted fairly hard, and there are three sporting goods shops in the area, there were no reports of this giant. The first, and last, time that Holubar saw this deer alive would be a memorable day indeed.
Holubar had been hunting one part of this woods for several years, but decided to "explore" one day into a small, but very thick part of this parcel. It's a small piece by most standards, but in suburbia this was a prime spot! Holubar saw two huge rubs and a few scrapes, and figured this place was worth hunting. He set up on one side of a rise and immediately saw two does. This was going to be a good spot, he thought.
A DAY TO REMEMBER IN 2009
The next day Holubar had a "bad morning" so he decided to go hunting. He grabbed a sandwich and decided to head out around 1 p.m.. He decided to go back to where he had seen the does the day before, and thought he needed to be in a choke point rather than a funnel, as he had been set up the day before.
So he set up so that there was thick impenetrable brush on one side and a steep embankment with runs on the top of the hill on the other. The deer trail would choke to less than 80 yards across, so by setting up in the middle he would have a shot either way.
He got into the woods around 2:30 p.m. and moved his stand location to the other side of the rise and into the choke point. He picked a good tree, set up his Lone Wolf climber and started to break branches to clear two lanes, kicking up dirt and leaves as well as rattling and grunting for about five minutes to help cover his noise. He climbed the tree grunted again.
Despite all of that work, nothing happened for the first one and half hours. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed movement. It was a buck, but Holubar did not know how big. He recalled that he had promised his son he wouldn't shoot any more 8 points. (His son wanted him to shoot a big 10 point.) He watched intently as the deer alternately walked and stopped.
Holubar decided to grunt, and immediately the buck began thrashing the brush and pawing the ground. This game went on for 30 minutes until the buck finally came up into the choke point. But at first Holubar thought he was only an 8-point, because he didn't see the other side of the rack, and the buck was behind brush, still 60 yards out.
As the buck got closer he would walk 10 feet, thrash some branches and brush, and stop to look around. At this point Holubar still could only see one side of the rack, and still thought he was a real good 130-inch-plus 8-point. He decided he would let an arrow fly if the buck gave him a shot, and at about 40 yards the buck started walking again.
The buck hit a shooting lane. Holubar gave a grunt. The buck worked a tree, walked a few more feet and Holubar whistled. The buck stopped and Holubar shot with his Bowtech 73-pound Mighty Might.
At first, Holubar thought he missed. As the buck turned and ran, however, it collapsed onto its chest and began snow plowing through the woods while the 100-grain Muzzy broadhead did its work. At this point Holubar got his first full view of the rack and saw how wide it was and how much "junk" it had on it.
Holubar now was afraid he was going to lose the big buck (given what had happened a few times in the past), so he quickly got down and ran over to where he last saw the buck. And the animal was right there, all piled up.
When Holubar saw the buck, he couldn't believe the monstrous size of the rack -- the thing was a giant. Holubar was in awe as he gutted the buck and thought about how lucky he was on the shot. The downhill shot turned out to be closer to 43 yards, and Holubar had caught a break as he hit the buck a little forward. But everything had worked out, and he started the job of dragging him to the road.
Holubar soon realized he was a little out of shape. It took him an hour and a half to drag the big-bodied buck 1/2 mile, up and down a few small hills, carrying his stand and bow as well. He was exhausted and couldn't lift the deer into the truck himself, so he called a friend. They got the buck into the truck, and celebrated.
The next day Holubar contacted several taxidermists and decided to work with Danny Azzato of Fish Unlimited in Oakdale, NY. He brought the deer in and had it officially weighed at 210 lbs. dressed -- which helped explain why he was so hard to drag!
Holubar later had the deer officially scored after 60 days by Dick Jondrow of B&C.
Holubar's buck is a true monster. The buck had a gross score of 211 2/8 inches and a net Pope & Young score of 202 5/8 inches. He had 20 scorable points, 10 typical and 10 non-typical. His inside spread was 20 3/8 inches, and his beams were relatively short at 22 7/8 inches and 20 6/8 inches. But his tine length was excellent, with the longest tines on each side at 12 inches or better, and his mass was very good. The rack had 5-inch bases and overall mass measurements totaled 37 2/8 inches. Overall the buck was the largest gross-scoring archery buck of 2009 in New York. And, according to the Northeast Big Buck Club records, he is the top gross-scoring whitetail ever taken by a bow in this state.
The current official #1gross-scoring archery non-typical, according to the Northeast Big Buck Club's records, is Richard Gates 22-Point taken in Suffolk County in 2006. Gates buck has a gross score of 208 5/8, and a net score of 196 2/8. Rex Taft took a monster 21-Point in 2005 in Steuben County that scored 203 7/8 gross and 198 4/8 net.
A quick look at the New York State Big Buck Club records shows that the number one net-scoring archery non-typical is Mark Surdi's 17-Pointer from Erie County in 1996. It scores 205 1/8' net. The Holubar buck would rank second for net score in this record book.
No matter which records we look at, this buck is truly one of the best of all-time!
HOLUBAR'S SECOND BIG BUCK
In reality, Holubar shot the big buck he was "really hunting" later in that same season. It appears this monster 8-point was "sharing" the woods with the big non-typical and some other decent bucks.
Holubar had photos of this 8 point from his scouting cameras from August and September. And he saw the 8 point once while getting into the woods for an afternoon hunt in early October.
After shooting his monster non-typical, he gave the woods a break for a while, and then tried some new stand locations in November. He didn't see this 8-point at all that month, but in December his luck changed.
The 8-point came in with a little doe and a "smaller" 8-point in front of him. Holubar let the doe pass, waited until the little buck was in some thick brush behind the doe, then stood up and got ready to draw.
He had to wait a few minutes until the big buck came within 25 yards. He released, but something went wrong and the bow "clicked," causing the buck to bolt. The arrow hit him way back as he was quartering away -- not a good hit!
Holubar was smart enough to let the big buck alone, and came back after six hours with his lab. As it turned out, the buck only ran 30 yards into the thick cover, as the arrow caught some liver and put him down. Holubar had his second monster buck of the same year, with a green gross score of roughly 155 inches -- an amazing 8-Pointer!
OTHER GREAT BOW BUCKS FROM NEW YORK'S 2009 SEASON
Several other monster bow bucks were arrowed during the 2009 season, according to the Northeast Big Buck Club, and certainly more will have been scored by the time this article is published. At this point in time, the NBBC had already put a tape to one of these giants: Matt McTarnaghan's non-typical from Livingston County that had a green gross score (before the official drying period) of 186. If that score holds Matt's buck will slide into the NBBC's top 5 gross-scoring non-typical archery bucks of all time.
What a great year for our hunters. New York offers great hunting throughout the state, and this particular hunt proves that you don't have to hunt the mountains of the Adirondacks or the farm country of the western part of the state to come face to face with a monster like this one. This is a hunt that Holubar will remember, and remember often for the rest of his life.