Ohio's State-Record Typical Crossbow Buck

Brad Jerman's decision to hunt a new area during the archery season resulted in Ohio's new state-record typical crossbow buck -- and one of the biggest hunter-killed deer in the world!

Photo by Brad Jerman

I've been making the pilgrimage to Wayne National Forest in southeastern Ohio for many years. When it comes to sheer numbers of deer, including some truly great bucks, Ohio's District Four has always been the place to be. This past season I successfully harvested two does in Hocking County during gun week.

However, a hunt on the other side of the district is what I will remember for the rest of my life.

It all began Nov. 9, 2004, when, at last light I spotted a tremendous buck about 100 yards from my stand in Warren County, about 12 miles from Caesar Creek State Park. This was the first time I had seen this deer, and its magnificent rack was awesome.

Not wanting to alert the deer to my presence, I got down from my stand and slowly crawled across an adjacent field.

It was impossible to sleep that night. I figured that if I was going to be awake, it might as well be in my stand and thought that the earlier I could start my crawl, the better. I ate and showered and was back at the edge of the field well before daylight.


I began my long crawl from the edge of the mowed field, and slid slowly toward the stand. It was a new moon, and the sky was overcast -- it was dark! I felt my way along as much as anything. I arrived proudly at the thicket without making a sound about 45 minutes later (covering not quite 100 yards). While still on my knees, I reached up and hung an estrous-scent dispenser on a limb a few feet from my ladder. I then stood up. When I did, a thorn from a briar pulled across my camouflage outfit, making a loud ripping and popping sound.

Suddenly, a deer blew twice and bounded away in three big leaps. By the volume of air and the heavy-hoofed sound of its leaps, I just knew it was the giant.

As most hunters know, this is usually the kiss of death for most situations, but in my panic the only thing I thought to try was to blow back. I blew once quite loudly, added some quick grunts. Then I froze. There was no wind -- and when I say it was dark, I mean it was dark. With camouflage from head to toe and a thicket between the deer and me, I was certain the buck couldn't make me out. I was also pretty sure he couldn't smell me.

After a few minutes, I heard movement as the deer moved slowly away. I took that opportunity to slip up the ladder to my stand.

Feeling rather dejected, I put my backpack down and started praying. After 15 minutes or so, I heard a snort-wheeze from some distance away. It was more like one long sound than two, like a valve stem cut from a tire. Thinking the buck knew something was at my location and was flexing his muscles, I responded with my own grunt-snort-wheeze. I tried to mimic what I had just heard, but had practiced the call several years ago. This was the first time I had tried the call while hunting.

All was quiet for a few minutes, and then I heard movement in the distance. I was afraid that the buck would lose interest in the area, so I used my bleat call and then replicated some tending grunts to keep him hanging around.

It got quiet again, and all I could do was pray for all I was worth. I repeated the calls, and this time I heard leaves crunching. I called a third time just before daylight when I heard leaves crunching in the distance. I believe I was just trying to keep his curiosity up.

I have never used a call in the dark before. I realized later that if he had come my way at any of those times, it could have been disaster.

As dawn finally arrived, I was able to see deer browsing around me. Suddenly, a large set of antlers came into view, and the tines seemed to glow in the dark. Soon the buck's body became visible along with the outline of another doe. It was not legal shooting light yet, but he was within range and moving between the two does.

As daylight came on and I was getting ready for a shot, one of the does suddenly walked straight at me and stopped directly under my stand. The buck followed until he was also under me.


I froze, because I was only 12 feet off the ground. I'm sure it was shooting light, but I had no shot except straight down. Timing my movement with his, I was able to look at him just as he raised his head and smelled the estrous-scent pad I'd set out. He was so close I could hear him breathing. He let the doe keep walking and, with a huffing noise, turned away into the heart of the thicket.

I had no immediate shot, but was completely awestruck by the way he moved his head though the brush -- it should have been impossible for a rack of that size. Bobbing and weaving like a prizefighter into the thicket, he was temporarily out of view. Everything got very quiet again.

During that time I was able to catch my breath and glance at my watch. It was almost 7 a.m., and there was now plenty of light but, unfortunately, nothing to shoot at. I was preternaturally calm as I scanned all sides of the thicket intently, but saw nothing and heard nothing. I knew he couldn't have been more than 25 yards from me.

After another 10-minute wait, a doe (possibly one of the previous does) walked up. It stood broadside in the shooting lane closest to where I believed the buck to be. My crossbow was already pointed in that direction, and I had used a rangefinder the day before to confirm that it was 18 yards away.

I looked through the scope and thought to myself: Oh, how I wish that buck was in the cross hairs! As if he'd read my mind, he quickly emerged and chased the doe through the shooting lane, quartering away. Without hesitation, I pulled the trigger.

The great buck circled the thicket once and crashed, just out of sight. He ran about 25 yards and got tangled up in the brush. His struggle was over in less than 10 seconds.

The arrow had struck him on the right side just behind his ribs at a steep angle. The mechanical broadhead did its job on the diaphragm, right lung and the arteries where the lungs meet above the heart.

I field-dressed the deer, transported it back to the house and, with some help from a neighbor, had him hanging in my garage before 9:30 a.m. I had no idea that I had just taken the new state-record typical whitetail, or that the deer would be the world's largest typical buck ever take

n with a crossbow, a contender for the No. 10 spot in the Boone and Crockett record book.

After the 60-day waiting period, the buck was scored by a panel composed of members and officers of the Buckeye Big Buck Club. The deer's primary scores are 208 7/8 gross and 201 1/8 net. It has a 24 1/8-inch inside spread and circumferences that average 5 inches.

I was proud to be able to meet Mike Beatty, who shot the state-record non-typical buck a few years ago, at the celebration held at the Ohio Division of Wildlife District Five office. It was awesome to see the state's largest typical and the state's largest non-typical together in one room.

Suddenly, a deer blew twice and bounded away in three big leaps. By the volume of air and the heavy-hoofed sound of its leaps, I just knew it was the giant.

Beatty's 304 6/8 Greene County buck, which is the biggest whitetail ever taken with a compound bow, Dave Ross' state-record non-typical crossbow buck scoring 233 3/8 (also from Greene County), Heather Martin's Butler County deer (at 204 1/8, the record for the world's largest deer taken by a woman) and David Lovin's Butler County buck, which was the state's muzzleloading non-typical record at 222 until it was surpassed last year by Virgil Laxton of Lucasville, who killed a buck scoring 226 6/8 non-typical, were all taken since 2000, thus proving that southwestern Ohio is hard to ignore when it comes to big bucks.

While I plan on returning to Wayne National Forest year after year, I will also be seeking out new opportunities in District Five. The region's mix of urban areas, minimal hunting pressure, and abundant nutrition in the form of fields of soybeans and corn -- along with some awesome whitetail genes -- means that more world-class deer should be on the way in coming seasons.

I feel very fortunate to call Ohio my home, and am glad that my favorite hunting spots in Warren County lie directly between Ohio's established "big deer" counties. I also think that it is interesting that the state's typical record buck has come from an area sandwiched between places known for producing large non-typical deer. It just goes to show: You never know.

For trophy deer, I'll pick Ohio any time!

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