Golden Triangle Whitetail outfitter Mike Pavlick shared with me some of his success this past season, which led me to talk with Florida hunter David Castleberry. Castleberry and his hunting partners were looking for an Illinois hunt, Googled the topic and landed on Golden Triangle Whitetail and booked some of the last openings. How was the hunt? One of his partners had an encounter with a buck-fever inducing 200-class buck. Castleberry missed a 160-inch whitetail on the first day of the three-day season and on the second day he connected with the buck of a lifetime, a 210 5/8-inch gross-scoring monster.
Castleberry saw the giant buck from his stand at dawn on the second morning and was astounded by its long tines and chocolate-colored antlers. Unfortunately the buck was working away from the hunter across a green field.
“About an hour and half later I heard a deer grunting in a thicket in front of my stand. It was a deep, almost growl-like grunt,” explained Castleberry. “The sound was coming from the perfect location where the buck could monitor the thermals and watch a CRP field below for doe activity. About every 45 minutes to an hour I’d hear the buck growl and finally I decided to growl back. I took out my True Talker call and made a deep growl back to him twice and within five minutes I caught sight of him coming my way. When I saw the long tines and the chocolate horns I thought it was the buck I saw in the morning. When he stopped, his front half was hidden behind a cedar so I blew my True Talker again and he spun around and I shot him square in the shoulder.”
Castleberry felt good about the 60-yard, slug-gun shot and he heard the crash of the deer soon after. Even so, he was instructed to wait for his guide Kyle Pavlick to show up to track the deer. The rest is history. Castleberry’s buck has nearly eight-inch bases, tines that stretch to 13 inches and an 11×12 frame that is nearly identical on both sides. Even with deductions the buck should net around 200 inches making it a Boone and Crockett contender and Castleberry’s biggest buck ever. Before the hunt his largest to date was a 137-inch buck. Congratulations David! —Mark Kayser