A last-minute scouting mission leads to a close encounter with a Badger State buck of a lifetime.
For the past few years, Greg Widiker has been watching a giant non-typical buck near his hunting land in Burnett County of northwestern Wisconsin. After finding two of the buck’s sheds, summer observations and trail camera photos, Greg knew the buck’s home range very well.
The buck was Greg’s only goal — it was him or nothing, and he and his hunting partner focused on low-impact strategies, with the main draw on his land being abundant white oak trees.
The forecast for Sept. 17, 2017, called for cool temperatures, and Greg was excited to take advantage of it. Around noon he went on a quick scouting mission to look for fresh sign, and found the first fresh scrape and rub of the season. His plan was set.
Cool and Calm
It turned out to be a perfect evening sit in his climbing treestand, cool and almost no wind. At one point, a doe feeding nearby caught sight of Greg and became fairly nervous.
“Then out of nowhere I heard a buck roar — no question, it was very aggressive — and some crashing in the popples behind me,” Greg said. “I gave a soft contact grunt, and I could hear the buck start walking toward me, and I started to pick up the bow off my lap. The doe caught me and blew every deer out of there.”
Greg gave a snort-wheeze to try to draw the buck back out, but it never did return. The other deer in the area, however, relaxed and came back out to feed.
Soon Greg heard another deer walking toward him, but was sure it wasn’t the buck he had heard before. “It was different, you know, a slow, deliberate, methodical walk,” Greg said. “I could see the deer’s body at about 80 yards, so I put the binocular on it and could just see a wall of tines!”
Greg watched the buck munch on acorns for 15 minutes as it got closer and closer.
“Then I realized, oh, I should probably grab my bow.” The buck was slowly feeding closer to Greg’s tree, which he thinks was due in part to the calls he gave earlier.
This is It!
The whole scenario started to sink in. “Then I started shaking — worse and worse — THIS IS IT! All of the time and preparation was coming down to this moment,” Greg took a few deep breaths and calmed down, repeating to himself, Don’t look at the antlers, don’t look at the antlers.
The giant non-typical was now only 10 yards away, munching on acorns.
“It was dead silent,” Greg said. “How could I draw my bow with it so quiet and [the buck] so close? I could hear him sniffing the ground, and the crunching sounds of him chewing on acorns. So I planned to draw the next time he crunched an acorn.
“It worked. Smooth draw, focus, pick the angle, slightly quartering away. It was a perfect shot. The buck ran back to where he came from. I could hear him run, then slow down, then stop, then nothing. It was totally still and quiet, and for 30 minutes there was no sound.
“I was supposed to be back home for the Packer game that night, but I didn’t want to even move.”
Eventually, Greg snuck out of the tree and over to where the buck had been standing. Right when he got to the spot, he heard the buck crash a few times not very far away. Greg backed out and he and two hunting buddies, Seth and Mike, returned at 10 p.m. with lights to follow the blood trail.
“There he is,” Seth stated matter-of-factly when he spotted the buck.
“It was completely overwhelming when it happened. It was like a dream come true. I just laid a hand on the buck and at first apologized. And then thanked him for the experience and for the venison that will feed my family. I have so much respect for the animal. I’m very thankful. Just couldn’t be happier,” Greg recalled.
The double-droptine buck weighed 225 pounds field-dressed. Widiker won’t know the official score until after the 60-day drying period, but by the measurements that he and his buddies came up with, the 16-point monster scores 204 6/8 gross non-typical inches. A truly giant whitetail by any standards, and a memory and trophy of a lifetime.
Greg Widiker’s vigilant scouting and low-impact hunting strategies finally paid off after a three-year quest for this massive double-droptine, non-typical buck.