When Ross Weber got into his stand on Oct. 13, 2015, he was hoping that he might get a chance at a big buck working the area — at the time, though, he didn’t know just how big that buck would end up being.
And why would he even think a monster would show up? After all, the 30-some acres he was hunting was shared with several other hunters who worked it over pretty hard. The West Bend, Wis., firefighter knew the area always had high-quality bucks hanging around, but most times they traveled at night when only a poacher would have a chance at them.
“The land gets hunted pretty hard,” he said. “There are about five guys on it, but most of them don’t show up until the rut is kicking in. I try to hunt harder during the early season because things haven’t gotten burned out.”
Weber chose to hunt a stand that was adjacent to a bedding area, where deer came out in the evenings to feed in surrounding fields.
“I did not have him on my cameras at the time,” Weber said. “But I did have a couple of good ones. In fact, my only intel on him was that I had seen him four days before but from a very long way off. I knew he was big, but didn’t know he was THAT big.”
At 6:15 p.m., Weber heard movement despite a strong west wind and spotted the deer.
“He was taking his time eating acorns,” he said. “He gradually was making his way to my shooting lane about 40 yards away. I always try to make judging distance easier by marking a few trees in that 30-yard range so I have a perimeter of sorts set up. I then just compare it to where the deer is standing.
“While I was waiting for the shot, I was doing everything I could to calm myself down and not focus on the rack,” Weber said. “I remember focusing on the tail and body and telling myself to just shoot him like a doe or my target back home.”
At 6:20 p.m., five minutes after spotting the buck, and arrow was on its way.
“The shot ended up being 35 yards,” Weber said. “When the arrow hit him he ran in my direction and I could see one of his front legs dragging but no sign of the arrow. He disappeared about 100 yards from my stand.”
Weber found fairly good bright red blood where the buck had been shot, but was a bit worried that he had made a shoulder hit — which often isn’t fatal on big mature whitetails.
“I found my arrow and compared my broken arrow to a full length one,” he said. “It looked as though I had about 5 inches of penetration. I decided to back out and wait a good three hours before continuing the track.”
Weber solicited the help of his friend Ryan Justman to help him pick up the trail at about 9:30 p.m. They found steady blood, but not an abundance of it. About 150 yards into the search, they found where the deer had bedded down. The problem was, he had gotten back up and was nowhere in sight.
“At this point the tracking was not looking good,” he said. “But we just kept at it, finding a little blood here and there, every 20 to 30 yards.”
Then, all of a sudden, the blood become more frequent, and higher in volume.
“We found him,” he said. “He was already a bit stiff and from what I could tell he must have died within an hour after I’d shot him. All I could do was hug Ryan.”
As a typical, the buck scored 183-7/8 inches gross and 167-5/8 inches net — the second highest score in Washington County.
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