January 28, 2022
- We’ve been sharing stories of huge whitetails from the 2021-22 deer season, and here are a few more studs to know about. Check out these three giants from Alberta, Ohio and Oklahoma.
Don Clever’s Brow Tine Cluster Buck
- Date: Nov. 21, 2021
- Location: Ross County, Ohio
- Method: Compound bow
- Buck: 183 2/8 inches (gross)
Don Clever’s monster Ohio buck was as nocturnal as whitetails get. In three years of hunting this deer, Clever only had nighttime photos of it, and the only time he saw the deer in person was the day he tagged it.
"I got trail cam photos this year, [and] my cousin had trail cam photos of him for the past two years," Clever said. "Our neighboring farm also had trail cam photos of him from this year. All trail cam photos we have are between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m."
He really wanted a chance at this deer, though. He was hunting on the family farm, which has been in the family for nearly 80 years and is now owned by his uncle. Tagging such a giant whitetail on the property would be very rewarding.
November 21 was his 20th day in the field. It brought rain, and a lot of it.
"I went out about noon while it was still downpouring," Clever said. "I knew I couldn’t fill my freezer sitting on the couch." On his walk in, he bumped a small buck, but didn’t think much of it.
The area he was hunting was full of rolling hills. He was sitting on the ground in a low spot in a tree line where an old fence row used to be. In front of him was a creek bottom pasture field with thick brush and rolling knolls all around.
"About 3:15 p.m., the rain let up and stopped altogether about 3:20," Clever said. "At 3:25, the buck walked out of the brush and stopped exactly 30 yards from where I was sitting."
The deer started milling around out in the open. Because, since Clever was hunting from the ground in a low spot, he had to rise to his knees to draw his bow.
"I was able to get to my knees, but drawing my bow drew his attention. All I could see was a big gray face staring me down," Clever said. "I set my 30-yard pin and let my arrow fly."
The arrow struck some brush between them before hitting the deer farther back than Clever intended to shoot. He gave him some time, then started blood trailing.
"I called my wife, Kaydee, and had her come out to assist in looking for him, as I am color blind and cannot track blood short of it being in the snow,” Clever said.
They followed it about 200 yards but had to stop when the deer jumped the fence onto a neighboring property.
"It took until the next morning for me to gain permission to go and look on the neighbor’s property," Clever said. "After we got permission, my wife and son came with me and started grid searching the [CRP] field that I thought he might be in. At one point, I was [unknowingly] about 20 yards from him, but one of the guys that has permission to hunt that property, Rick, was on a four-wheeler, and I stopped my grid and went over to talk with him.
After a while, Clever had to leave to pick up his daughter from school. As he was driving, Rick called and said he’d found the buck.
"I also have to give props to my wife for trudging through the mud and the muck," Clever said. "Not all wives would do that. I have a special one, that is for certain. My wife’s watch tracked her and my son walking nearly 8 miles searching for him through tall brush, creeks, over logs, and up and down hills. It was a tough day of searching, but we were able to recover him with the help of my family and a friendly neighbor.
"I thank God for the opportunity to harvest such an animal," Clever continued. "It means a piece of our family farm that I will always have with me no matter what the future holds. A story to pass down through generations. A full freezer to feed my family. A sense of accomplishment for being able to take such an old and smart animal."
Interestingly, Clever said he wasn’t targeting this deer specifically. He believed the buck was too nocturnal to see during daylight and was merely hoping for a doe. But, as fate would have it, he finally encountered the heretofore nocturnal buck instead.
Brandon Mahowich’s Wide Alberta Buck
- Date: Oct. 22, 2021
- Location: Alberta, Canada
- Method: Rifle
- Score: 184 7/8 inches (gross)
On October 22, Brandon Mahowich and his father drove 2 1/2 hours to their hunting property and settled in just in time for the afternoon hunt. They spotted a few deer on the walk to the blind, but were able to get there without messing up the hunt.
"To our north, we were able to see the entire tree line that spanned the quarter section of land that has many cutlines for deer to travel through," Mahowich said. "This forest consisted of mainly deciduous trees mixed with the occasional spruce. To the east and west was a barren cultivated field with a couple islands of trees in it. Right behind us was a long strip of trees, which is a heavily-used travel point for deer to move through."
The afternoon brought 37-degree temperatures and 20-plus mph winds. It wasn’t long before several does and young bucks walked into the far corner of the field, about 400 yards away. Then, a big 8-pointer walked into view and headed toward the blind. That’s when Mahowich glanced back in the distance one more time and saw the monster buck.
"There were three more bucks in a row that stepped out of the tree line, and the buck on the far left was him," Mahowich said. "I could see that mass without binoculars and knew it was him from trail cam pictures. I could not believe how big he was."
Once the buck closed within 100 yards, Mahowich settled the crosshairs and took the shot. The bullet connected. The deer ran off a few yards and stopped. Mahowich chambered another round, took a second shot and dropped the deer in its tracks.
"This is one of the most memorable hunts I will ever have," Mahowich said. In addition to his father, his cousin was also there to enjoy the moment with them.
"No one could believe the size of this deer," Mahowich said. "My cousin could not contain his excitement getting the first picture with the deer. My dad was grinning ear to ear. And my uncle, who set up the blind and trail camera, could not believe I got him. You could tell that everyone was excited and happy. I will look at this mount for a lifetime and will always remember the little things that happened that day."
Justin Kimmel’s Heavy Oklahoma Buck
- Date: Oct. 15, 2021
- Location: Payne County, Oklahoma
- Method: Compound bow
- Score: 185 inches (gross)
Two years ago, Justin Kimmel had a huge deer on trail camera regularly—almost daily. Last season, that deer put on a bunch of antler mass, and this season it really turned into something special.
October 15 brought 60-degree temps, clear skies and winds out of the north. Kimmel was camped out in a little valley full of persimmon trees in a treestand with a creek and thick timber behind it and a small opening in front of him.
While he got to the stand a little later than anticipated, it turned out to be just in time. Ten minutes after settling in, two spike bucks walked into bow range and proceeded to spar for about 30 minutes. Then, a couple of does passed through, but were pushed out by a smaller 10-pointer. They were followed by more does that seemed to be looking over their shoulder. That’s when Kimmel knew something was coming. A minute later, he saw the buck walking directly toward his stand location.
"I grabbed my bow," Kimmel said. "I was sitting in the stand and waiting [for a chance to] stand and draw. As soon as he got in front of the cedar, he circled hard back toward me and was headed out. I had enough time to draw sitting down and release an arrow as he was passing back by."
The 8-yard shot connected and the buck dashed out of sight. Everything happened so fast that Kimmel didn’t even have time to get excited. It was his third encounter with the buck, but certainly the best one. With great shot placement, he knew the deer wouldn’t go far, and he recovered it quickly.
"It was a quick hunt," Kimmel said. "I couldn’t have been in the stand more than an hour. I had a lot of deer moving that evening."
Including the buck of a lifetime.