ONE OF A KIND
BUCK: A 160-CLASS 8-POINT HUNTER: RONNIE STRONG, RAILROAD OPERATOR LOCATION: CENTRAL ILLINOIS DATE OF KILL: DEC. 16, 2016
I usually don’t let a buck get under my skin, but in 2015 a big 8-point bent the rules for me. He was an absolute bully. He fought or chased off every buck he encountered. If a doe wasn’t ready to breed, he’d gore her in the butt. He was such a train wreck, I decided I’d go after him.
On my first sit, he came to within 15 yards. I was at full draw when he turned his head—and his main beam was broken at the G2. I gave him a pass for the year.
The next fall, starting in the middle of November, the buck was on every camera on the farm, unafraid to move in daylight, but never doing the same thing twice. He’d be on one end of the farm one day, the other the next. I don’t name bucks, and I’m usually happy to kill the first 51⁄2-year-old buck I see. But this deer was different. I hunted him like a man possessed. In a normal season I gain weight; that year I lost 25 pounds. I was sick from sitting in the cold and wind, and my buddies were laughing at my obsession.
In my experience, when temperatures are really cold, deer prefer corn over green food. But this crazy buck was just the opposite. On a December afternoon in a cold, freezing drizzle, I forced myself to sit a green food source—and sure enough that’s where he showed up, on his feet an hour before dusk. When I shot him, he looked right up at me, stood there for several minutes, then tipped over dead. —S.B.
King of the Hill A tall 9-pointer surveys his domain. Above: Strong, with his bully buck.