David Zagorski's huge Beaver County typical buck may be the biggest rifle-killed buck taken in the Keystone State last season. Here's his story. (September 2009)
During the first week of the 2008 rifle season, David Zagorski of Ellwood City headed into the Beaver County woods one morning later than he had planned.
The Zagorski buck gross scores 174 5/8 as an 11-point typical. It has 26-inch beams and G-3s to 11 inches! Photo courtesy of David Zagorski.
As he walked toward his tree stand he was surprised to see a large buck in the distance, but he was unable to get a good shot at it. Little did he know that he would find himself in the same location facing another giant buck just one year later!
In October 2008, Zagorski's dad was out walking his Labrador retriever and saw a huge buck standing there looking at him just 30 yards away -- right where they often hunt!
He was so excited that he called Zagorski at work enthusing about the huge buck.
Later, stories about the buck began to circulate around the area, and most of Zagorski's neighbors had either seen it or heard about it leading into the hunting season.
Zagorski hunted all of archery season hoping to see the big buck. He hunted an area where he had seen an extraordinary number of rubs and scrapes. Zagorski was fortunate that year to be able to put a lot of time in the woods, and he was rewarded with many buck sightings. Unfortunately, most were small, and several had broken or half racks.
Zagorski began to think that there was a dominant buck in the area beating up on these smaller bucks. Something told him that he had not seen all of the bucks that frequented the area.
A FORTUITOUS MISS
During the last week of archery season, Zagorski missed a decent 7-pointer at very close range. He couldn't believe he missed, and after checking his sights by shooting at his target at home, he discovered that his sights were way off. He recalled bumping them once while hoisting his bow up to his stand. He was upset, but little did he know that this was a blessing in disguise. Had he harvested that buck he would have used up his buck tag, and he would not have had a chance at the biggest buck of his life during the upcoming gun season.
The first day of the 2008 rifle season was one of the coldest and windiest that Zagorski could recall, and the second day wasn't shaping up to be much better. Zagorski decided to hunt out of the same stand that he had archery hunted in all season long, not far from his father's house.
The temperature was around 30 degrees, with a fair amount of wind, and a slight coating of snow on the ground. By 10 a.m. on the second day of rifle season, Zagorski still had not seen a single deer. His dad, who was hunting with him, called on the radio to tell him enough was enough and that he was heading back to his house.
Zagorski had originally planned to hunt until at least 2 p.m., when we would have to pick his girls up at the bus stop. But the combination of cold weather and the lack of deer convinced him to abandon his tree stand around 10:30 a.m. and take a walk, hoping to move some deer around.
He slowly and quietly made his way down to an apple tree and then back up a four-wheeler trail leading to the area that his dad had been hunting.
He made his way up onto a knob and then cut through a stand of pine trees. As he came closer to a gas line clearing, he noticed a faint glimmer of fluorescent orange through the woods. Another hunter was coming up the gas line. He decided to wait for the other hunter to find out if he had seen anything.
The two men carried on a conversation, and the hunter explained in some detail about a 3-pointer he had seen. As the man continued with his story, Zagorski's eyes peered over the terrain in hopes of seeing a deer.
Just then, a large deer walked out of the woods onto the gas line on a hillside about 200 yards away -- coming from the same section of woods that Zagorski had been hunting all morning!
To get a better look, Zagorski knelt down. He immediately realized that it was not only a buck, but it was, in fact, a really big buck. He quickly brought his trusty .30/06 bolt-action rifle up and found the buck in his scope.
A quick thought flashed through his head about a monster buck that his dad had mentioned a couple of months ago.
For the first time since the implementation of the Pennsylvania antler restrictions law, Zagorski did not need to count the number of points. There was no doubt that this was a legal buck -- and then some! He settled the cross hairs behind the monster's shoulder, took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger.
The buck fell to the ground like a "ton of bricks."
Zagorski and his new friend began to move down the hill toward the deer when suddenly the buck turned back toward the woods and tried to get up. Zagorski pulled his rifle up and quickly squeezed off another round. This time the giant fell and did not get back up. The two men cautiously approached the deer.
By 10 a.m. on the second day of rifle season, Zagorski still had not seen a single deer.
Zagorski knew that this buck was a trophy, but he found it difficult to believe what he was seeing. His first thought was to take a picture with his phone and send it to his wife and also to his father. Not even a minute went by when his wife called and asked if he was going to get it mounted.
He chuckled and said, "Of course!"
Zagorski next called his dad on the cell phone and told him this was without a doubt the buck that he had been talking about since October.
The other hunter was gracious enough to take a picture of Zagorski and his newly acquired trophy. Within a few minutes, he saw his dad riding down the gas line toward them. Zagorski made a special effort to see his dad's expression as he rode up to the magnificent buck.
After all the work and congratulations were complete, they parted ways with the other hunter and headed to Zagorski's dad's house. By then, his uncle had arrived with a camera.
After a lengthy photo session, Zagorski made a few stops to show off the buck. The local deer processor told Zagorski that his was the biggest rack that had ever
come through his place. The buck weighed 168 pounds, field dressed. Later, a Pennsylvania Game Commission biologist estimated the deer's age at 5 1/2 years.
Zagorski lives in Ellwood City, a small town in western Pennsylvania, where the first day of deer season is still considered a holiday.
The news of this buck spread like wildfire across Beaver and Lawrence counties and beyond. Pictures have circulated around the Internet and numerous strangers approached Zagorski on the street to ask if he was "the guy that shot that monster buck."
In this small town, the buck was indeed big news, and Zagorski was not ashamed to say that he really enjoyed the attention.
THE ZAGORSKI BUCK
Zagorski had his buck scored by Boone and Crockett scorer Jeffrey Kendall, and his buck qualified for both the Northeast Big Buck Club and Boone and Crockett record books.
The results were impressive. The gross typical score was 174 5/8. The buck has an 11-point typical frame with main beams of 26 4/8 inches and 26 0/8 inches, with an inside spread of 24 5/8 inches.
The longest tines were the G-3s at 9 7/8 inches and 11 0/8. While the buck did not have huge bases, the total mass credit was outstanding at just under 40 inches (nearly 5 inches per circumference).
The net B&C score, after deductions, was 167 5/8.
In the 27 years that he has enjoyed deer hunting, Zagorski had never seen a buck of this caliber in the woods. He has seen many more big bucks since the new antler restrictions were put in place. He believes that his great buck is the direct result of that policy change.
True or not, we know this is a great buck, and we hope to see many more like it from the Keystone State!
BIG BUCK CLUB
For more information about the Northeast Big Buck Club, visit their Web site at www.bigbuckclub.com, e-mail email@example.com or phone (508) 752-8762.
If your buck has already been scored by Boone and Crockett, Pope and Young or any other organization, you can enter it in the NBBC by sending a photo of the deer, a copy of the official score sheet and $25 to NBBC, 390 Marshall Street, Paxton, MA 01612.