Many archers dream of taking a state-record buck, but last season Fond du Lac bowhunter Wayne Schumacher actually did it. Here, in his own words, is the full story.
The things we do for our children!
My son, Adam, asked me if I would help him move into his new house in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sept. 18, 2009. His goal was to be moved in before the deer-hunting season opened for him on Oct. 1. Even though Wisconsin's season opened on Sept. 12 -- and as many avid hunters know, the first couple of weeks are sometimes the best -- I reluctantly agreed.
Wayne Schumacher had heard of a huge buck in his area, but he'd never seen the giant until the day he shot it! Scoring 243 6/8, it now ranks as Wisconsin's top non-typical buck by bow. Photo courtesy of Wayne Schumacher.
The move went well on Friday and Saturday, so I mentioned to him that I would like to get back early on Sunday to allow for at least few hours of hunting. He relented and wished me luck.
On the way back I called my brother, Pete, and asked where he was hunting that night. He informed me the wind was bad in St. Peter, where he hunts, and if we went to Princeton, where we lease land, it would be awfully late when we got home.
In the end, we decided to go to an area west of Fond du Lac because it was closer and we had not yet hunted there that year. I called Pete back a half hour later to see if we could leave earlier and pick grapes by a friend's place for my homemade wine. There were a lot of grapes.
He agreed, and so we picked the grapes and headed out hunting about 4:30 p.m. My brother and nephew, Jeremy, and I had already put in three food plots that year, all by the stands we had set up.
Once we got to the property and dressed, I asked Pete which stand he was going to sit in. Then I told him which one I'd be in. Once at my stand, I climbed in and put everything into place, hung my bow, and waited.
As a hunter, sitting in a stand, you think about how a deer might come near enough for a shot and how you would shoot it. Or what if a big one came by, and what would happen then? I had heard of a big buck being seen two miles away the year before, but nothing of it being in the area we were now hunting.
I'd had a camera out in our hunt area for three weeks and never saw anything of any substantial size.
While sitting in my stand, I could watch all three food plots and see my brother who was about 175 yards away. An hour and a half had gone by and I hadn't seen anything in the food plots. As I was daydreaming at about 6:45, a branch cracked under my tree. I couldn't believe what I saw!
Seeing only 10 inches of the right side of the rack, there were at least 8 points and a lot of mass to this deer. I knew from that, it was probably the big one we'd heard about from last year.
I slowly started to reach for my bow. He stopped about 8 yard from my tree and looked toward the food plot in the open field. At that time, I stopped moving and waited for him to continue. I knew the wind was coming from his direction and so he could not have caught my scent. After about 5 seconds, he continued on.
I pulled back on the bow and lined up the sights. Earlier that afternoon, I had shot six arrows at a target. On the last arrow, I flinched and it was off by about 10 inches.
I told myself before releasing the trigger, "You don't want to flinch on this one." At that point, the arrow left my bow and hit right where I was aiming. While the buck was quartering away, the arrow entered behind the right rib cage and came out by the left front leg.
Pete Schumacher, left, was hunting with his brother at the time the Fond du Lac monster made its appearance, and was the first to count points on the huge rack. He came up with 31. Photo courtesy of Wayne Schumacher.
He bolted away, which is when I first saw the entire rack. Again, I couldn't believe how big it was! As his head rocked with the massive antlers, he reminded me of an elk. I never took a good look at the rack before I shot, thinking that I would freeze or start shaking if I did.
He ran about 70 yards, stopped, his head went down, front knees buckled and he tipped over. I could not believe it!
At that point I got light-headed, held onto some branches, and started to take some slow, deep breaths. After a minute I regained my composure and started to gather my equipment.
I didn't know what to do; should I wait until dark and let my brother finish hunting, or should I go and get him while it was light out yet? I decided to go get him.
As I started walking toward him, I thought about it again, and walked back a ways. My brother could see me and knew something was wrong because normally I never get out of my tree early. I knelt down, took a few more deep breaths, and decided to go tell him.
We've hunted and fished together for many years, so I wanted to go look at my buck with him. Once I got to him, I apologized for ruining his hunting for that evening but told him, "I just got a dandy."
We decided to go get the truck and then get the deer. Once we parked the truck I told Pete I had left something under my tree and needed to get that first. While going to get it, he decided to go look for the deer without me. I found what I needed and at that point realized Pete had not waited for me.
When I caught up with him, he was already walking back. "You ____; I counted 28 points!" were the first words out of his mouth.
I told him, "We were supposed to find it together!"
He commented that he couldn't wait. I ran to find the buck but couldn't find it until he told me where it was. When I looked at the buck, I couldn't believe what I saw; it was awesome!
He counted the points again and came up with 31. Then counted again and came up with 30. It was hard for us to know which points we had and hadn't counted. We decide
d to tag it and dress it out before it got too dark on us.
Together, we dragged my buck back to the truck and attempted to lift it onto the tailgate. It would have been a comedy show for anyone watching us trying to get that massive buck on the truck! We could not get him more than 6 inches off the ground, and so there seemed no way we would be able to hoist him onto the tailgate.
Finally, putting the head on the tailgate, I climbed in the back of the truck and pulled while Pete lifted. It took some work to organize the truck to fit him in with the grapes and equipment. Then we still had to get the tailgate closed.
On the way back, we called home to start the cooler at Pete's house and told everyone I had gotten a 30-pointer. I don't think many of them really believed us. I've been known to joke around at times.
I called my son Adam to tell him about my staggering night of hunting. He was ecstatic for me. We stopped at my house so my wife Nancy could take some pictures and she e-mailed them to him. After getting them he called to congratulate me and tell me that he would celebrate for me in Dubuque with his friends.
We made a few more stops before we ended up at my brother's house. While on the way, his son Mark called to find out where we were. Apparently, there were a lot of people already waiting for us.
Once we arrived, no one could believe what he was seeing. People started calling others until about 50 people came through that night. Thye all wanted to see the deer and celebrate with me. We enjoyed beer and homemade wine in celebration.
The next day, I went in to work and asked for a half-day off. I called my brother to let him know what I'd done and to see if he could get off as well. I wanted him to join me in registering it. He was glad to take off, because it seems he celebrated with more homemade wine and beer than I did.
Once we got to Dutch's Sport Shop in Fond du Lac, it was crazy. They knew we were coming and a big crowd had gathered already. Others going by would see the big crowd and then they would stop, look, and call others. There had to be hundreds of people who stopped to look.
We were there about two and a half hours until we had to leave to get the deer back in the cooler. Once we got to my brother's house again, it started all over. People would stop and look, call someone, who would come and look and call others.
The driveway was always full of cars, along with people parking on the road. There had to be over 250 people who stopped to look at my buck and to congratulate me. It was awesome for everyone.
A number of people said that due to the publicity the last two days, it would be better to have the buck caped out right away, and to make sure and keep it in a safe place overnight. I was not able to find anyone to do the caping right away, and so a friend of mine, Tom Burton, offered to stay with me overnight in the building to be sure it wasn't stolen.
I called my wife to give her the news. "Honey, I'm sleeping with the deer!" I told her. She said, "What!?" But she knew I was serious.
It was 12:30 a.m. before the last person left and we needed to get up at 5:30. We weren't going to get much sleep, but we got even less because we talked for about an hour after everyone left.
Thanks most of all to family, friends, and hunting.
Five-thirty came too quickly. I went home, changed, called work, and was able to take the day off. Needing to get the big buck caped out, I called Bruce Zuehlke, a taxidermist in St. Peter, to find out if he could help me. He called his friend, Ray Groff, who helps him when he needs a hand caping deer. It took about two hours of careful cutting and they were finished.
I couldn't believe all the calls I got during the week. They came from people all over the United States. A radio station from Fargo North Dakota wanted a live interview, as well as one from Minnesota and many others. It is amazing how fast news travels these days.
My niece, Chrissy Mand, from Madison left a message saying she saw Uncle Wayne on CNN. Next, my brother-in-law, Randall Mand, who is in the Navy and stationed in Norfolk Virginia, called because of a recent appointment with his chiropractor. The doctor asked what he did and where he was from.
When Randy mentioned Wisconsin, the doctor asked if he had heard about the guy who got the 30-point buck. To the doctor's amazement, my brother-in-law said, "Yeah, that's my brother-in-law."
After official measurement, the rack scored 243 6/8 net, with only 12 1/8 inches of side-to-side deductions. There were 58 1/8 inches of abnormal points that, when added to the net typical score of 185 5/8, gave the rack its net score as a non-typical.
Currently I have plans to make replicas of the rack for myself and for others who would like to own one. The original will be kept in a safe place unless someone would show interest in the purchase.
There have been many people throughout this whole ordeal who offered help, and have given advice and suggestions on what to do. I want to thank all of them for they have helped make decisions easier as they shared in my enjoyment of a deer of a lifetime.