Big Buck Stories: The Long Chase Ends for Big City

Cody Miller with his Big City buck shot during an early November bowhunt.

Cody Miller with his Big City buck shot during an early November bowhunt.

Two years of tangling with mature bucks was enough to keep the blood pumping and give two bowhunters hunting experiences of a lifetime.

In autumn 2016, Illinois had been experiencing above-average high temperatures for the last few months. The most recent information I obtained from trail cameras, showed a lot of morning movement when the temperatures were cooler.

On Nov. 6, I knew it was that time; I just had that feeling as temperatures were projected to be much cooler that morning. I called my buddy, Aaron Cully, and said we have to go after Big City. The legacy of this deer began after Aaron and I were hunting on his farm in 2014. We were chasing two mature bucks that would score in the mid 150s, maybe 160s.

Cody Miller's scoresheet for Big City.

Cody Miller’s scoresheet for Big City.

Using the information from trail cameras located throughout the farm, we located and had been avoiding the area Big City was habituating. Since opening day of bow season I had been tirelessly hunting every chance I got at my other farms in Illinois to avoid pressuring Big City. I was exhausted when the alarm when off the morning of Nov. 6. We were running a little behind and got in the stand just in time before that chilly morning’s first light.

As the sun was breaking the horizon, I sent a text to Aaron saying, “It’s going to be a special morning. Do you know what day is?” Aaron responded “Yes, the day I filmed you killing Stickers in 2012.”

Stickers is what I thought would be the biggest deer of my life, which had scored 183 inches. Just a moment later I received a text from Aaron, “I have a doe that I think might bust me.” I asked if it was a mature doe, and Aaron responded with a “YES.” So I looked in Aaron’s direction, knowing that given this information there was a good chance a big boy will be close behind.

I then looked in that direction, a huge framed buck was looking towards the doe, I immediately knew it was Big City. I had not heard nor seen him before he got within range. I knew I may never see this ghostly buck again, so I decided to grab my bow and try to make the kill by not focusing on his antlers but rather the shot itself.

Cody Miller's buck, Big City, from behind.

Cody Miller’s buck, Big City, from behind.

I grabbed my bow and slowly stood up. I knew the wind was in my favor and he wasn’t looking in my direction. I only had one window to make the shot. I stood slowly, while turning all the way around, to square up on the deer. After I was square, I realized that I had not yet ranged him, but did not want to take my eyes off of him in fear of potentially spooking him. I accomplished this by using my one pin sight and my best judgment on the placement of the pin, which was around 30-35 yards.

I placed the green dot right behind the left shoulder and pulled the trigger on my release. I watched Big City and the arrow, feeling as if I were burning a hole right through them the moment my broadhead hit the sweet spot. The buck took off; gurgling, then I heard a loud crash.

After waiting two hours then tracking 60 yards, I found the buck of my life.