Wisconsin’s New #1

The story of Barry Rose’s record buck is the story of a typical hunting family in Wisconsin. Both Rose’s mother, Kathy, and father, Jerry, hunt, as do Rose’s brothers and his sister, Brenda. Toss in Rose’s three sons, Cody, Brady and Payton, and you have your typical Wisconsin hunting family. In my home state, for most people, hunting season is as anticipated as any holiday. You go to your parents’ house for Christmas, all the immediate relatives gather at one location for Thanksgiving and you hit the woods come hunting season. As at holiday events, coming together for deer season is simply a given.

Glimpsing a Walking State Record
Rose’s first look at his buck was a family event. On a late September afternoon, he’d brought his youngest son, Payton, out with him. “Hunting has always been a family thing for us,” said Rose, a school superintendent and ex-pro football player (wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills). “It was that way growing up, and I keep it that way with my family today. “The thing that’s important to remember is, when bringing an 8-year-old, the hunt’s about them. I usually go to the back side when of this area when hunting. Well, I didn’t want to put Payton through all that work, so we took the easy way. “Thirty minutes before dark, Payton started getting antsy. Rather than make him miserable and ruin the hunt, we snuck out early. We’d just started driving out when we spotted the huge buck crossing an open lane. I won’t pretend I knew he was a new record, but I knew he was bigger than any of the four I have on my wall. He had good mass, long tines and was in a different category than anything I’d ever seen in the woods.

“That one glimpse changed how I approached the season. With three boys, we go through a lot of venison. I usually shoot a couple does a year. The year before was Brady’s first year to hunt. After he shot two does, I decided we had enough meat and didn’t shoot one myself. Well, when we became an Earn-A-Buck unit, that left me without a purple sticker (and the right to shoot a buck until a doe tag was filled first). “If Payton wasn’t with me, I would have gone in the way I usually do and would’ve stayed in stand until dark. Either way, I wouldn’t have seen that buck. I knew right there that I didn’t want to see him again until I had my buck sticker.”

Setting the Stage
Over the next few weeks, Rose left the area where he had seen the buck alone and focused on filling his doe tag. “It was starting to get to me,” Rose admitted. “I wanted to go after that buck, but couldn’t get my doe tag filled. As badly as I wanted to hunt that area, I didn’t want to mess it up or have him walk under my stand and not be able to shoot.”

That changed on Oct. 7. Brady already had his purple sticker. At 13 years old, he also qualified for the youth hunt. The 2006 youth season was the first to allow bucks to be fair game for children with stickers. The two went back to the property where Rose had seen the enormous buck. “I’d thought about that buck a lot since seeing him,” said Rose. “I was pretty sure he was living on that ground. It has everything–cover, food and water. There was no reason for him to leave.

“When the youth hunt came, I couldn’t think of a bigger thrill than having Brady be the one to shoot him. Hunting is all about building memories. What a memory that would make!”

Climbing up into the same tree, Brady armed with a gun and Rose with a bow, the goals were to kill a giant and get Rose his buck sticker. A spent shell and quiver-full of arrows later, the giant still lived, but purple stickers were no longer an issue. Brady took a doe, and Rose arrowed two. Neither saw the enormous buck, but he was also now fair game for Rose.

Twist of Fate
Life as a superintendent is a labor of love in small town Wisconsin. Although not a job requirement, residents expect and enjoy seeing the superintendent at school events. Between concerts, plays, conferences, meetings and sporting events, the superintendent’s duties don’t leave many afternoons open for hunting.

“We don’t have school activities on Wednesdays,” remarked Rose. “So, that’s when I’d typically get out to hunt.” Things were getting rather crazy in the Rose household. The weekend of October 21st, Barry was inducted into UW – Stevens Point’s Football Hall Of Fame. Add that to all of the school events, and Rose needed a break. “I go to all the school functions and felt guilty even thinking about skipping the high school concert,” admitted Rose. “With everything going on and a cold front moving in, I wanted to unwind in the woods. After checking with the principal to be sure he’d be there, I decided to go hunting. I still felt guilty the whole time I was driving to the spot.” Guilty or not, during the late afternoon hours of Oct. 23, 2006, Rose pulled into the property where he’d seen the huge buck earlier in the season.

The Hunt
Rose’s guilt faded quickly when he saw the 140-ish buck on his way to the stand. Rose wasn’t sure if he’d unleash an arrow at the buck, but he stalked the buck all the same. At 40 yards, he was nearly faced with a decision. However, the buck stepped the wrong way and the stalk failed. As exciting as it was, he was now well behind schedule on his appointment with his stand. “Before I went in, I’d filled a film canister with Wildlife Research Center’s #1 Select Estrus. Because I was in a rush to get up the tree, I didn’t think much about where I hung it. I knew I’d put it close to one of my shooting lanes, but was more focused on hunting than placement. It was already 4:45 p.m. and deer were moving!” That factor played heavily into the events that would follow.

Rose’s stand location was a huge-buck hot spot, with a large opening 75 yards to one side and mature wooded runs up to the edge of extremely thick cover. With the stand facing the cover, several openings and shooting lanes sliced into the nearly impenetrable cover. Even better, to one side was a bedding area and to the other was food. Deer wanting to get from bedding to food would naturally travel the edge of the cover, passing within easy bow range.

“After climbing into the stand, I sprayed a little cover scent on the tree,” said Rose. “Next, I have this habit of lightly rattling right after getting settled, and I finish off with three to five grunts. It’s my way of covering any sounds I made on my way in.

“At 6:00, I started my third rattling sequence. About five minutes after I finished, I spotted a body moving through the thick stuff. When he hit an opening, I saw his rack and knew it was him!

“The next time I saw him, he was leaving and wasn’t going to give me a shot. Luckily, he smelled the #1 Select Estrus, turned and came in on a string. Once he reached the canister, he really put on a show. There, standing 20 yards in front of me, this incredible buck was inhaling this scent and raking his antlers on the branch! It had him totally captivated.”

When the buck switched course, Rose had come to full draw. When the buck crossed the first shooting lane, he was slightly quartering to Rose. Confident the buck would hit his second shooting lane, offering a better shot, Rose waited. That was where his hurried placement of the film canister came into play.

Barry had forgotten that the canister was placed just before his second shooting lane. As he worked the scent, the buck was right in front of him, but Barry didn’t have a shot! This went on for minutes. With Barry’s arms now shaking from the strain, he had to let down. Luckily, a large tree blocked the buck’s view.

Finally, the bruiser sensed something wasn’t right. Turning to where he’d come from, he began to briskly walk away. As he did, Rose came to full draw again. When the buck hit his shooting lane, Rose let the arrow fly.

The Aftershock
“The arrow went all the way through,” Rose recalled. “As the buck kicked and took two big bounds, the one thing I’ll never forget is how he looked like an elk smashing through the thicket. In an instant, he was gone.

“With him out of sight, I sat down, nervous, shaking, blood pumping, and looked at my watch. It was 6:27. I struggled to regain my composure. The first thing that went through my mind was, ‘Oh my gosh!’ Next, all I could do was hope I didn’t shoot too far back. After five minutes, I couldn’t take it any more and climbed down. The arrow was covered in bright red blood! That was very exciting for me.”

Slipping out of woods, Rose couldn’t wait to share the news with his wife, Tammy, and the boys. They all knew about the buck and that Rose wanted him badly.

To make it even more of a family affair, Rose called his brother, Jerry Rose Jr. Two hours later, the two of them were following an incredible blood trail, only to have it disappear 30 yards from the shot location. To play it safe, they slipped out and waited for morning.

“That night, I called my other brother, Cary, and my dad,” explained Rose. “They’d help me and Jerry Junior the next morning. I was confident that the buck was dead, but worried that the coyotes might get him. I didn’t sleep at all that night!”

At 8:30 a.m., believing it would be a short, easy track, all four of them began the search. As noon approached, they had only managed to follow the blood for a few yards farther in the thicket. Rose decided it was time to pull out, get some lunch and then resume the search. “I was sitting on the tailgate of the truck,” remembered Rose. “Dad and Cary were still in the woods, looking. I was now thinking that there was a 10 percent chance I’d find him. I was depressed. That’s when Cary came running around the corner. It was such a shock to see that I grabbed my bow. I figured he must be getting chased by a bear. Finally, I understood what he was screaming. He’d found the buck!” Handshakes, hugs and a few tears followed as father and brothers stood over what is now officially the new Wisconsin record typical bow kill. Grossing 2146/8 and netting 1872/8, this 16 point, split-brow-tined buck beats the previous state record of 1865/8, shared by Ken Shane’s 2000 Buffalo County buck and Fred Hofman’s 1994 Langlade County buck. Rose had taken the largest typical ever shot with a bow in Wisconsin. Making it even sweeter, his harvest was a family affair from start to finish.

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