Adam Stout of Mifflin County spent two years on the trail of what was to become the biggest buck taken by a bowhunter in 2007. Here's his amazing story of perseverance and persistence.
Adam Stout's fantastic Keystone State typical 12-pointer grossed 170 5/8 inches and netted 165 3/8.
Photo courtesy of Adam Stout.
Pennsylvania has always been known for its great deer-hunting tradition. Each year, more deer are harvested here than in most of the rest of the northeastern U.S. combined. But this state has rarely been known for producing big bucks. Through the '90s, serious trophy hunters disrespected it, while high percentages of yearling and immature bucks were harvested each and every season.
Back in 2001, Dr. Gary Alt set out to do something about that by introducing some controversial antler restrictions. Some would argue that they're working: Over the last several years, archers, firearms hunters and traditional flintlock hunters alike have taken many monster bucks.
In 2007, another batch of fantastic trophy bucks fell in the state. This article features one of them -- a great "backyard" archery typical that is the best from 2007!
THE STOUT BUCK
Adam Stout has always had an obsession with whitetails. He can easily recall his many sleepless nights that preceded the opening days of buck season, though in those early years, he was just tagging along with his dad. He even remembers the knots in his stomach after he harvested a deer.
In August 2006, Stout became obsessed with one particular buck, and he wouldn't rest until he tagged it.
HIS FIRST ENCOUNTER
On the first week of August 2006, Stout headed out the back door to begin his chores on the family turkey farm. As he walked through the small field behind the house, he noticed a small buck feeding along the wood line just down from the barn.
Stout paused to watch, but the deer spooked and took off through the field and back into the woods.
When he took another step, Stout was shocked to see a large 10-point buck jump from the brush near where the smaller buck had been feeding.
Stout watched in awe as the big buck bounded away. Just like that, his obsession had officially begun!
Stout couldn't contain his excitement. He ran back to the house and called his parents at work to tell them about the buck. They had always seen a few does and small bucks around the house in past years, but nothing like this!
The Stouts own about five acres of woods in Mifflin County -- a small patch surrounded by agricultural fields, houses and roads. According to Stout, their woodlot is about 350 yards long and about 80 yards wide at its widest point. It consists mostly of thick briars, good for rabbits -- and good for trophy bucks as well.
Stout hurried through his chores and then grabbed his trail camera. He walked along through the woods and set his camera on an old ATV trail that he and a neighbor had made a few years before.
After waiting four long days, Stout went out to check the camera. The film counter indicated "Full," so Stout brought it to a local Wal-Mart to get the film developed.
The photos showed a mature 10-pointer with a small sticker point off the G-2. Stout had shot plenty of smaller bucks, but he knew this one was something special.
When the hunting season started, Stout was at college, busy with his studies and wrestling tournaments. But he hit the woods the first chance he got. No sightings had been recorded, other than just one camera photo -- Stout guessed the buck had gone nocturnal.
A few weeks later, a friend called and told him of a nice 10-pointer --with an identical kicker off its G-2 --that had been killed close to the same area.
Stout was crushed. He gave up on the deer and went on with his hunting season elsewhere, but his heart wasn't really in it.
He came home for Christmas vacation and received an unusual gift on Christmas Day.
That evening, his brother-in-law went outside to burn some garbage. Right down over the bank, two bucks jumped up and ran into the field. He assured Stout it was "the big one" again.
That was enough to convince Stout to put his camera back out. And a few days later, sure enough, the photos showed that the big buck was still out there.
With only the flintlock season left, Stout knew where he would be spending the following day. His dad had that next day off, and they decided to make a push to try to jump the big buck. Stout slipped into the woods at the edge of the property line, while his dad prepared to walk through the thick cover.
Stout gave his dad the OK, and he began the push. About five minutes later, Stout heard his dad getting closer, so he assumed the drive was over.
Suddenly his dad yelled, "Here he comes!"
As the buck jumped into the field Stout quickly cocked the hammer on his flintlock and gave a bleat.
At 15 yards, the big buck stopped and looked directly at Stout, who immediately pulled the trigger.
There was a flash, but no boom!
As the buck ran off, Stout was dejected. He fell to his knees, waited for his dad and explained what happened.
They went back to the house to test-fire the gun. Of course, on the first shot it went off just fine. That was just his luck!
Though Adam Stout was heartbroken, already he was counting the days till next year to try it again.
A LONG WAIT
In the spring, there was very little activity -- no sightings of the buck, and nothing on the new trail camera that Stout had purchased. Then mid-June, when Stout came home from work, his mom greeted him with news that was music to his ears.
"Adam, he's back!"
Stout immediately took his new camera back out to the same ATV trail, got it set up and waited about a week. Within that time, he got photos of the buck and continued to monitor the animal over the next few months.
By July, he realized that two more bumps were developing on t
he deer's rack, and that coming fall, he would be a giant typical 12-pointer!
As summer rolled on, the camera captured the big buck at all times of the day, walking the trail in and out of the fields. In fact, on August 23, Stout's birthday, he strolled by the camera at noon.
With the opening day of archery only a little over a month away, this was more than Stout could take.
He and his dad hung a stand close to the trail that the magnificent animal was traveling, just 17 yards from where the camera had been recording the buck's movement. They cut a few shooting lanes and brushed in the stand with some limbs.
Soon it was time for Stout's second year of college. But no matter what the class or the time of day, all he could think about were the long tines and huge mass on that buck.
A few weeks later, a friend called Adam Stout to inform him of a nice 10-pointer -- with an identical kicker off its G-2 -- that had been killed close to the same area.
He waited an agonizingly long time but finally got home to hunt in late September. He immediately checked the camera, but all the pictures had been taken at night. His hopes of seeing the animal were diminished, but he was determined to get in his stand and make the best of it.
Stout knew he had to get into the woods as early as possible. That fateful morning of Sept. 29, he woke at 4:15 a.m. and showered himself with cover scent. After breakfast, he dressed lightly because he knew it would be a long, hot day in the stand.
He drove out between the two turkey barns to park, and then worked his way to the stand quietly so that he would not spook the buck if he were close by. He walked about 40 yards to the edge of the woods, took his time crossing a small creek, then eased his way the last 20 yards to his stand.
He climbed as quietly as he could and strapped in for a long and much-anticipated sit. Around 5:30 a.m., he called his dad to let him know he was settled in safely.
Just as he hung up the phone, immediately he heard heavy footsteps coming his way. It had to be him!
As the deer crossed the path, the trail camera flashed. Stout was temporarily blinded.
He knew it was a deer, but didn't know for sure it was the deer.
The next hours passed uneventfully. By 11 a.m. Stout realized that he'd forgotten something to pack something to eat.
He climbed down quietly, knowing that the deer that had passed by in the dark was probably bedded closer to the house, only 220 yards away.
The temperature was already in the upper 70s. Stout pulled the card from the camera, went back to the house and shed some of his clothes. He had something to eat and took the card down to the picture viewer on his television.
Sure enough, it was him! In the dark, the big buck had crossed right in front of Stout. Now he was torn. Would it be a waste of time to sit there during daylight hours, especially since all the recent photos had been taken after dark?
He knew he'd never get a shot sitting in there in the house thinking about it, so around 1:00 p.m. he headed back to the stand and sat down.
After a while, with the sun beating down on his face, he began to sweat a little. So Stout removed his gloves and facemask and enjoyed the peace and quiet.
Around 2:10 p.m., a sound caught his attention. It sounded like a grunt, but he ignored it, assuming that at this time of the year, there was no way a buck would be grunting.
But about a minute later, he heard the same sound again.
Curious, Stout decided it wouldn't hurt to blow on his grunt call a few times. He hit the call about four times very softly, but with no effect. So he didn't think much more about it.
Soon enough, his lack of sleep and the warm sun beating down on him were enough to make him drowsy. Stout wasn't paying much attention to anything at all.
Then suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement -- legs coming through the brush!
Looking more closely, he saw the right side of a rack with a massive main beam and a bunch of points.
There's no way this is happening! he thought. It was 2:20 in the afternoon, and the hottest part of the day!
Still shocked at the events unfolding, he reached for his bow and turned slowly in his seat.
Directly in front of him lay a shooting lane. In two more steps, the big buck would enter the shooting lane and offer the only shot possible.
It was time.
He came to full draw, keeping his gaze away from the rack to avoid getting a dose of "buck fever."
Stout let out a soft grunt with his mouth, and the buck stopped. Stout settled the pin low behind its shoulder and released when the deer was at 17 yards in the opening. He watched the fletching disappear perfectly, in what looked to be a heart shot.
Surprised, the buck turned and ran back toward where he'd come from. But within 30 yards, he collapsed.
As Stout watched him fall, his emotions overwhelmed him like a tidal wave. After all this time, it had finally happened!
He just broke into tears and with no one around to hear him, yelled at the top of his lungs. Immediately he got out his cell phone and began calling everyone he could think of to come and help him.
When he called his dad, he was still in tears. When his father finally understood what Stout was saying --and realized his son hadn't fallen out of his tree stand -- he too broke into tears and told Stout to wait in the stand until he got home from work.
Stout called his mom at work, then his sister and even asked her to bring his seven-month-old nephew. He wanted them all to experience his big moment.
His dad arrived 45 minutes later. Following the blood trail through the brush, they easily found the monster whitetail. But nothing had prepared them for what they saw.
From the trail-cam photos, they knew he was big. But seeing the buck there on the ground almost didn't seem real. Stout was speechless.
After sharing the moment, the two began dragging the buck the short distance to the field. Given its estimated live weight of 250 pounds, this was no easy task!
Stout's mom was the
re at the field's edge, waiting to congratulate him and share in the excitement.
This was certainly a tremendous central Pennsylvania whitetail. More importantly, Stout's entire family had experienced the excitement of his saga over the last few years, and this was a special moment for all of them.
Of course, no one could possibly have felt what Stout was feeling at that historic moment.
After the mandatory 60-day drying period, the buck was scored. The typical 12-pointer grossed 170 5/8 inches and netted 165 3/8.
The inside spread is relatively small at 15 6/8 inches, with main beams just over 23 inches.
Five of the tines are over 8 inches long, with the longest -- the right G-3 -- at 9 7/8 inches. The bases are just a hair under 5 inches.
The mass is outstanding, with all eight circumference measurements between 4 4/8 and 5 inches. The buck easily qualified for the Pope and Young and Northeast Big Buck Club records.
As of March 2008, when this was written, the Stout buck was the largest archery typical buck recorded in the Keystone State from 2007.
However, several non-typicals with larger gross scores were killed in Pennsylvania. According to the Northeast Big Buck Club, this buck also ranked among the top five archery typicals killed in all of the northeastern U.S.
While many other great bucks were taken in Pennsylvania during the 2007 season, Adam Stout's deer stands out because of his perseverance and dogged pursuit of this individual animal.
Could this state be headed towards more consistent production of outstanding trophy bucks? Given the size and quality of deer that the NBBC has seen over the last three years, that's certainly a possibility.
The 2007 results were impressive -- with this buck a shining example of what's to come!
For more information about the Northeast Big Buck Club, or to purchase its latest hardcover record book, Northeast Trophy Whitetails V, visit the club's Web site at www.bigbuck club.com.
Or e-mail email@example.com, or call (508) 752-8762.