One for the Records

One for the Records

At 214 4/8 points, this non-typical now stands as Oklahoma's No. 1 bow kill in the Cy Curtis listings. Here's how Stillwater's Chad Hane bagged the record buck.

By Mike Lambeth

Darkness gave way in increments as the first anemic shreds of dawn lit the eastern sky in Payne County. Shrouded by a pair of small cedar trees, Chad Hane crouched in what most Oklahoma archers would consider an enviable position. Feeding just 75 yards away was the monster buck and three others that Hane had been watching for nearly two months. Three wide-racked bucks surrounded the monarch, but all four whitetails continued feeding, unaware of Hane's presence. Full after gorging themselves on the sweet corn that mysteriously appeared twice daily, the bucks began their retreat into thicker cover where they'd been passing the warm daylight hours.

If the bucks used the same well-worn path along Hane's fenceline that they had used for nearly 60 days, they soon would walk by Chad's ambush point - a pair of cedar trees, the only vegetation available. The deer came past that very spot early every morning.

Continuing down the trail the monster buck was 22 yards away when Hane drew his Mathews bow. Hane's heart pounded as he steadied his sight pin on the buck of his dreams.

Chad Hane took up archery as a teenager after tragedy struck his life. His mother and brother were killed in an automobile accident a short distance from the family's home in Stillwater. The devastating event left its mark on Chad, his father, and twin brother, and caused the trio to become closer in support of one another.

Ivol Hane, Chad's father, introduced Chad and his brother Shad to archery so that the trio could be involved in the same, safe activity. A year later Chad was so enthralled with archery that he decided to compete in local archery competitions. He eventually racked up nine state titles, winning the International Bowhunting Organization Triple Crown and once placing fourth at nationals.

Chad soon turned his archery interest to bowhunting and took his first deer shortly thereafter. Hane estimates that he has taken roughly 15 deer, his best a 178-pound 12-pointer.

Five years ago, Chad became a firefighter. That training left him so safety-conscious that he now hunts almost exclusively from the ground to avoid potential tree stand accidents.

Hane had an opportunity to buy his family's homestead a few years ago and seized the chance. The 10-acre farm is primarily flat, with a few trees next to the highway. It's not the most likely spot to take a trophy buck in.

Chad Hane's early-morning vigil on opening day of Oklahoma's 2003 bow season resulted in his taking this impressive buck. Wide and high-scoring, it's the top bowkilled non-typical in the Cy Curtis records. Photo courtesy of Chad Hane

The surrounding farms are different, though; heavily wooded, they support the agricultural development that attracts and holds deer.

Occasionally, the deer cross Hane's small property. That knowledge caused Hane to set up a deer feeder to see what it might attract.

Last August, Hane's wife, Mary, noticed four visitors under the feeder that's about 80 yards from her dining room window.

The guests were deer. Mary got her video camera and began filming. As if on cue, the bucks took turns raising their heads and posing for the camera. Chad stared mesmerized at the nice velvet-clad racks. When the biggest deer raised its head, Chad took notice. Its rack looked more than 2 feet wide, and its body was considerably larger than the others' were.

When the deer had gorged themselves, the wide-racked buck led the others away in a dominance display. Hane wondered at that time if he would ever have an opportunity to match wits with the huge buck.

For the next two months, Chad estimates, he fed the foursome nearly 1,000 pounds of a sweet corn specially made at his local co-op. Typically, the bucks would appear at first light, eat, mingle and leave, and then reappear at last light for an evening snack before vanishing into the thick woods.

As Oklahoma's 2003 archery season approached, Hane had the deer patterned, and he longed for opening morning. In fact, he knew the exact time the bucks would feed, and the exact time they would leave.

The problem was that his property was flat, with no trees in the vicinity of the feeder. The only things taller than the native grasses that blanketed Hane's back yard were a pair of 8-foot cedar trees situated 75 yards southeast of the feeder. Hane built a ground blind between the cedars, hoping he could draw his bow undetected and hit the buck as it exited from his property.

Meanwhile, news of the wide-racked buck got around. Homeowners in a new subdivision across from Hane's property became acutely aware of the big buck, which was occasionally spotted around their homes after dark.

A week before season Hane actually was asked by a few camouflage-clad visitors if they might be able to hunt on his property, even mentioning having seen a big buck in the vicinity. Chad simply smiled and replied, "I am going to be the one to hunt that buck."

Opening day finally arrived, dawning to overcast skies and a temperature of 50 degrees. Hane slipped to his ambush point under the cover of darkness and waited for the morning to unfold.

At first light Hane glassed the feeder and was pleased to see the bucks sticking to the same routine he'd watched them follow for 52 days. Having vacuumed all the corn from the earth, the bucks, led by the monarch, slowly began their retreat.

Walking in single file along a fenceline, the bucks would soon give Hane a broadside shot at 22 yards. The archer drew his Mathews bow and waited for the opportune moment.

At the whack of the bowstring, the huge buck bolted, the imbedded arrow displaying a well-placed shot.

Hane was now a basket case. His heartbeat was off the charts as he trembled, still uncertain of his accomplishment. Overwhelmed, Chad called Shad to relay his good fortune and seek his brother's help in finding the buck. A short while later, Shad arrived, and the twins begin their search for the brute.

Ironically, the well-hit buck didn't lose a drop of blood. A short, bloodless trail led Shad to find the buck first. Shad was ecstatic as he summoned Chad to come look at the monster buck.

As Chad reached down to grasp the huge rack, he

recalled the incident. "I thought to myself, 'What a magnificent buck!' I was in awe; the buck was unbelievable."

The pair field-dressed the deer and then got a tape to measure the spread. The huge rack taped 31 1/2 inches at its widest span. The brothers also counted 29 gnarly points on the 202-pound buck.

Chad notified local game warden John Cunningham, who came by to see the big buck. News of the deer spread like wildfire, and soon cars were pulling up at Hane's house to see the phenomenal buck.

His demeanor humble, Hane offered that words can't describe his feelings. His buck will be recorded as Oklahoma's best archery non-typical to date. After the customary 60-day drying period, the buck scored 214 4/8 on the Boone and Crockett scoring system.

Though the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Cy Curtis deer records list does not have an individual category for bowkilled whitetails, Hane's buck nevertheless will officially be the largest non-typical bow kill listed in the state's records.

Mike and Cokis Chain, Oklahoma City taxidermists and owners of Backwoods Taxidermy, mounted the record buck, which now proudly hangs over Hane's mantel.

Ironically, Hane never saw the other three bucks again, but he hopes they'll show up again next season with even bigger racks.

For now, the quiet Hane is honing his craft by shooting arrows to keep his eye razor-sharp his the next bowhunting opportunity. After all, the next time Chad takes a trophy buck, he may not have to go far to do it!

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