In 2013 I started getting pics of a great buck, but he’d always vanish in mid October. I’d had mature bucks shift core areas on me before, so I hung cameras on other parts of the farm, thinking I’d get him again. Nothing. I looked hard for his sheds and never found them.
In 2016 we got summer pictures, and the buck had absolutely exploded—to over 200 inches. I decided it was that buck or bust. When the season came, I hunted where I thought he was living and never saw him. Now I was going nuts. I plastered the area with trail cams and spent the rest of the season hunting just that deer, and never once saw him or got his picture.
In late December, someone sent me a pic of a woman posing behind a huge buck, and I recognized the deer immediately. I called a warden friend and he knew exactly who had killed it— Lyla and Dave Nennig, on a farm 12 miles away.
“You’re crazy,” I told him. He said he was 110 percent sure, and said the buck never showed up on the Nennigs’ farm until October and would stay until spring and disappear. They had always wondered where he went.
I actually got in touch with Dave and Lyla, and we compared stories. I won’t lie; it was a little tough to find out that for the last three months I’d been hunting a buck that basically didn’t exist—at least not within 12 miles. But it was awesome that she got him, and good to have some closure.