Ohio Crossbow Hunter Stalks into Position on a Bedded 200-Class Buck

"With my finger ready to touch off the arrow, I watched the buck through my bow sight. He looked my way again and this time, he saw me."
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Jason Thomas with the giant, 12-point buck he killed in central Ohio. Courtesy Jason Thomas

I’d hunted from the same stand in the hardwoods at least a dozen times this season. But I hadn’t seen the buck in person since late September—before the season even started. I’d watched him through the late summer, and trail cam photos told me he was still around the farm in central Ohio where I hunt. I knew he was a special buck, and I’d grown obsessed with him as October wore on.

It was just past 9 a.m. on Oct. 28, and I’d seen exactly zero deer that morning when the giant buck finally showed himself. My hopes dissolved just as quickly, though, as I watched the deer of my dreams stroll out of the woods and into a standing cornfield where I didn’t have a shot. The buck bedded near an overgrown washout that ran through the corn. I contemplated sitting and waiting him out, but after about 45 minutes, I decided I couldn’t take it. I had to make a move while the buck was still bedded.

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A trail cam photo of the buck that was taken just five days before Thomas killed it. Courtesy Jason Thomas

After carefully climbing down from the tree, I headed home to grab a small folding stool. I called up a couple hunting buddies on the drive, and we debated whether I should stalk the buck and attempt a shot, or if I should just set up on the field edge and wait for him to make the first move. We decided the second option would be the smarter decision, as I didn’t want to get too close and risk bumping him.

I made it back to the cornfield and crawled more than 200 yards toward where I thought the deer was bedded. I carried my crossbow, my pack, and the small folding stool. By 12:30 p.m., I was in position and roughly 50 yards downwind of his bed. Now all I had to do was wait and hope my plan would pay off.

Two hours later, I watched the buck saunter down the middle of the washout. He was headed my way and closing fast. When the buck got to 30 yards, I eased into a half crouch and raised my crossbow to prepare for a shot, but then he turned and faced directly at me. It seemed he hadn’t busted me because he came even closer through the cornstalks.

Read Next: Ohio Buck Could Become Third Biggest Whitetail of All Time, But Major Scoring Questions Remain

Ready to touch off the arrow, I watched the buck through my scope. He looked my way again and this time, he saw me. I aimed for the center of his chest, but then his back legs shifted as he prepared to run. As soon as he spun away, I released my arrow. I heard the thud of the broadhead as he ran off to my left and tore through the corn.  

I texted the buddies I’d called earlier, and they could tell I was anxious. I was even more uncertain when I walked to where I’d seen the deer last and found no trace of a hit. No blood or hair was visible, and I couldn’t find my arrow. So, I slowly backed out and returned home to wait for reinforcements.

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The typical 12-point could be a new Ohio record. Courtesy Jason Thomas

Some friends and family and I returned to the spot that afternoon. We recovered the buck roughly 120 yards from where I’d hit him. The arrow had entered right behind the shoulder and passed through both lungs.

On top of being the biggest buck I’ve ever killed, the typical 12-point could be a new Ohio record. It has a 22 ½-inch inside spread, 26- and 29-inch mainbeams, and tines pushing 14 inches. Scorers with Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records gave it a green score of 208 5/8, which makes it the new No. 1 in Buckmasters’ Perfect category for all weapons. A panel of Boone and Crockett scorers plan on measuring the buck in late December after the 60 day drying period, and if that score holds, it would be a new state record, according to B&C. It would also go down as the No. 3 all-time typical whitetail in the B&C record book.