Quick Decision Makes the Difference For Hunter Against Monster 10-Point Buck

In this Big Buck Flashback, we take a look at the outstanding Nolan Johnson buck from 2010 and how this young hunter scored on a fantastic 10-point whitetail.

The Nolan Johnson Buck
Yorkton, Saskatchewan
October 2010
10 scorable points
Gross score: 181
Net score: 176

By Nolan Johnson

My 2010 deer season really began in midsummer, when I set up several trail cameras in my hunting areas near Yorkton, Saskatchewan. All summer, I spent countless hours glassing fields for the buck I wanted to pursue.

Nolan Johnson killed this great buck in 2010 in Saskatchewan.

Nolan Johnson killed this great buck in 2010 in Saskatchewan.

Countless hours of scouting yielded many sightings of velvet-clad, 140- to 150-class bucks. Yet my focus was on one buck: A gorgeous 10-pointer I finally spied during the first week of October. The buck was huge, with tines spread well beyond his ears. The larger ones looked to be 12 inches long.

Trail camera photos indicated he was most active from 7:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. Because of this, I dubbed him The Nocturnal Giant.

Living up to his name, the buck and I first crossed paths as I walked to my truck well after shooting time. It made me want to pursue him that much more. But how?

I needed The Nocturnal Giant to be more like The Shooting Time Giant.

On the next hunt, I relocated away from my blind and into his home turf. I hunted him hard every chance I got, but he just wouldn’t show up during shooting light.

On Oct. 28, 2010 — after almost three weeks of hunting the giant — I decided it was time to turn up the heat. I would try to get him to come out into the open a little earlier with some aggressive calling. We had received 6 inches of snow, which made seeing and tracking deer a lot easier. It also made them come out to feed a little earlier in the day.

I got to the field at about 4:30 p.m. and found some does already feeding in the alfalfa. I had toted a big set of rattling antlers with me, so I made note of the wind and started a sequence of rattling and grunting.

After several attempts at calling, I got a little impatient. I thought, “He’s not coming. What if tonight is the night he decides to walk by my blind and I am not there?”

I quickly convinced myself to pack up and make my way to the blind. I crunched my way through the snow and got settled in. I made sure my muzzleloader, range-finder and binoculars were ready. Just 10 minutes later, I looked south along the brush line and spotted two bucks and a doe 300 yards away in an alfalfa field.

I quickly glassed the headgear on both bucks: There was no doubt about it. The larger one was The Nocturnal Giant.

I hesitated to raise my muzzleloader, a .50-caliber Thompson/Center Omega. The buck appeared to be heading my way. It was a test of willpower to wait for a closer shot.

After what felt like hours, I ranged the buck again. He was now quartering toward me 150 yards away.

I cocked the hammer and set my cross-hairs on his shoulder. I took one deep breath and squeezed back the trigger. Smoke filled the air, and I heard a loud “thwap.”

I looked up from the scope. The Nocturnal Giant was down.

Even from 150 yards away, I could see antlers sticking up from the alfalfa. There would be no ground shrinkage with this buck.

All the hours put into scouting and hunting the buck had paid off.

The Nocturnal Giant, a typical, unofficially scored 181 gross and 176 net. And I scored memories I’ll cherish the rest of my life.

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