For most of the last 30 years that Pat Clouse has been bowhunting, he’s passed on big bucks just to see how big they’d get. He’s shot plenty of does for the freezer while honing his skills on small plots of rolling farmland in west-central Ohio where he has permission to hunt.
In 2017, Clouse got access to a new 50-acre tract in Clark County near some cornfields and a small pond. After setting up trail cameras at various spots on the property, he saw plenty of deer, including a pair of big bucks.
“Buddies were teasing me because they knew from my trail camera photos that I passed large bucks all the time. So, I figured I ought to shoot some,” the 59-year old bowhunter from Springfield, Ohio tells Outdoor Life. “That first year on the 50 acres I got some trail camera photos of a pair of bucks I believed were brothers because their racks looked so much alike.”
Clouse shot one of the “brother bucks” in 2018. It was a ten pointer that he estimated around 165 inches.
Over the next few years, Clouse kept getting photos of the other “brother buck” and he watched it grow. He started to think the older buck was declining with age, and at the beginning of this season, he wondered if it was even still alive. He got his answer on Nov. 16, when he went to the 50-acre property to check his trail cams.
“I got off work early, checked a camera, and [I saw] the big brother buck had passed by it that morning,” Clouse says. “That changed things immediately, because I knew he was nearby, and I was going to hunt him.”
He put some estrus scent on his boots the next morning and made a trail to a tree stand he had set up near where the buck was photographed. Around 2:30 p.m., he climbed 16 feet into his lock-on stand and settled in for the afternoon.
Conditions were perfect, but bucks weren’t actively chasing does on the 50 acres until an hour later, when he saw a smaller buck run some does into the nearby woods.
“That’s when I heard all hell brake loose. There were chattering grunts, and small trees wer being raked and shaken by a deer,” Clouse says. “This was uphill about 50 yards from me, and then I heard a buck snort-wheeze, and a deep roar from a deer. I thought that was the big brother buck, but I didn’t know.”
By this time, it was around 5 p.m. and slowly getting dark. He saw a doe run into a thicket just behind his stand. He heard a buck grunting and nearby but couldn’t see it.
“Then a big 8-point buck showed, and the big brother buck came out of the thicket to confront the smaller deer,” he explains. “But I couldn’t shoot because he was quartering toward me.”
Clouse waited before coming to full draw with his compound bow. The buck stepped out of the thicket and offered him a broadside shot at 12 yards. Clouse released and made a solid hit behind the shoulder.
He found the buck laying just 10 yards inside the timber. Soon after, his friends Rick and Chris White showed up. They got the buck out and to a nearby pond to field dress it, where they estimated its live weight around 270 pounds.
It’s clearly an old buck with well-worn teeth, Clouse says. With 19 points in total, the rack has a Buckmaster’s score of 197 5/8 inches.
“I feel like I’m dreaming after taking this buck,” he adds.