FREAK OUT

Field and Stream - - GIANT - —Steve Snow, as told to Scott Bestul

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.

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