By Nick Johnson

Kevin Marso didn’t fully realize it at the time, but as he settled the pin and sent an arrow towards a buck on the morning of November 7th, 2012, no arrow he had ever let loose from the string, carried so much importance. This was an arrow headed towards a buck most bow hunters can only dream about!

Kevin had already put in roughly 60 hours in the stand on several properties but had never seen this particular buck before. He had hunted the same spot the night before and had deer moving around him but three coyotes had chased them off. Early on the morning of the 7th, he once again climbed into the stand and it wasn’t long before he heard the leaves crunching to the Southwest of him. Several deer came flying through the area within view and disappeared quickly into the cover. Kevin wondered what could have spooked the deer? A couple of minutes later, there was a coyote trotting through once again. He’d had enough of the coyotes and would put an arrow into one of them given the chance, but this coyote stayed well out of range.

For an hour or more Kevin hadn’t seen anything moving from his 18-foot stand, but he planned on staying until 10:30 or 11 o’clock. The farm he hunted included mostly pasture with some timber and a creek that ran through it. Near where the creek met a timberline, he sat in ambush. As that hour of boredom rolled by, he spied a deer about 100 yards away. “I couldn’t tell how big it was through the trees.” Kevin remembered. “The buck was freshening up a scrape and ignored a grunt call. I grunted at him a couple of more times and he still wasn’t paying any attention.”

When the buck finished his business however, he turned and began coming down the trail that led to Kevin’s stand. He crossed a dry creek and was getting closer. “It was thick enough in there, that I still couldn’t get a good look at him, but he kept coming up the hill right to a gap in the trees.” That was the first time Kevin got a look at what he was dealing with. “How I didn’t know that he was that big, I don’t know? I just knew that he was a shooter and when I make that decision, I usually quit looking at the antlers and concentrate on shooting.”

The stickers on the deer’s right side along with the width of the antlers jumped out at Kevin but other than that, he didn’t really concentrate on just how big this guy really was.

Kevin was already standing with bow in hand, ready for the buck in case it came within range. The buck was moving broadside to Kevin and for a bit he turned his head Kevin’s way, not really noticing Kevin but just looking at the area behind his tree stand. It turned its head back towards the trail as it kept moving and Kevin knew the time was now! The buck would pass right by a tree that was 25 yards away from the stand and he realized that if the buck kept walking, it was going to pass behind some pine trees that may not let him get a shot.

Kevin tried a mouth grunt in effort to stop the buck but he didn’t bite and kept on moving. “I aimed just a few inches in front of where I wanted the arrow to hit and led the buck as he walked. When I shot, I heard the smack of the arrow hitting but could instantly tell that I had shot the buck too far back. I’m not sure if it jumped or what, but my first thought was that I had gut shot him. I was thinking that this isn’t good.” Kevin lamented.

The buck turned and ran back the way it had came towards the West and then Kevin could see it turn more to the North. “I looked in the binoculars and could see his side was covered in blood.” 50 or 60 yards away, Kevin could hear a crash and the sound of crunching leaves stopped. This could be a good sign but with the unsure feeling about the shot, Kevin wasn’t going to move for a while. He had the game plan to stay in the stand most of the day if he had to, watching the area and listening for crunching leaves if the buck got up.

Not quite two hours after the shot, the suspense was starting to grow. “I was getting kind of antsy but I was afraid that if I climbed out of the stand he might hear me walking around, and get up and run, so I decided to just quietly climb down a few steps and just see what I could see from there,” recalled Kevin. Three rungs down on the ladder, he could see the deer. He was lying on his side with his head down but to be on the safe side, Kevin decided to climb back up and check again later.

He didn’t have to wait long before the elements of nature helped out. “I saw a flash of something moving over by where the deer was laying.” Initially worried that it was the buck moving, he soon discovered that it was one of those troublesome coyotes again. “A coyote went down the same trail the deer was laying on and I saw it kind of jump back, surprised at seeing the deer laying there. It finally just sat down on its haunches looking at the deer for a while like it was surprised about where this deer came from. Finally the coyote moved off and I figured if the deer let a coyote get that close to it without moving, that it must be dead, so I decided to go ahead and see for myself.” Kevin excitedly described.

As soon as Kevin made it around some pine trees, he finally got his first good look at the buck and began to realize just what he had.

Kevin said, “As soon as I saw him there, I about fell over! I noticed the split brow tines and how thick he was and I just stood there staring at him, still like twenty yards away!” The deer was down for good and Kevin’s arrow had indeed hit further back than he would have liked but it hit an artery, which resulted in a quick death. Once he got his hands on the buck Kevin was awestruck with what he had just put down!

Kevin and a few of his friends have shot some nice bucks in years past and they’ve measured a lot of deer for scoring purposes. “We taped him out at 198 2/8 inches for a gross non-typical green score.”

Kevin will be able to relive this hunt every time he looks at the mount thanks to the remarkable work of taxidermist Phil Carlson of Lost Trail Taxidermy. I’m sure Kevin Marso will have no problem finding a suitable place on the wall for this trophy!