Dalton Covell felt confident as he walked to his tree stand at 6 a.m. on Oct. 7. He’d hunted the stand before, and it was in the same area where his dad had killed a giant 30 years prior. The weather was hot the previous week when Ohio’s bow season opened. But that morning, with temps dropping into the 40s, Covell thought he just might take the biggest buck of his life.
“I got in my stand an hour before daylight because I didn’t want to … run the buck out that I’d been getting trail camera photos of since early September when he was still in velvet,” Covell tells Outdoor Life.
Legal shooting light was just after 7 a.m. The 24-year-old saw his first deer soon after.
“I was sitting quiet and still in my stand, and three big does stepped into an opening from a big woodlot at first light,” Covell says. “They met up with another big doe, which was great because I figured the buck might be with them.”
Covell watched the does make a wide circle all the way around his tree stand. But they were never alerted to his presence, which meant his scent wasn’t spooking them.
“Ten minutes later I looked up, and the giant of a buck I wanted moved into an open shooting lane at 30 yards near a creek crossing. That’s when I raised my crossbow for a shot.”
Covell touched the trigger on his scoped crossbow. The bolt, tipped with an expandable broadhead, passed through the buck so fast he never saw it.
“The buck ran back into the woods, but the does just stayed around my stand,” Covell says. “I don’t think they knew what happened.”
Covell stayed in the tree for an hour, then headed home to eat. He called his dad Max and told him what had happened, and the two returned to the tree stand around 9 a.m.
“We found my arrow, and we didn’t like the looks of it,” Dalton recalls. “There was a watery maroon color on the shaft, not much red blood. We thought it might have been a gut shot. I was sick about that, so we decided to back out and wait before trying to track the buck.”
The Covells went home and watched the first half of the Ohio State football game, then returned to where they’d located the arrow at 2 p.m. They didn’t see much until Dalton found hair from the buck along with a drop of blood nearby.
“The blood trail wasn’t heavy,” said Dalton. “There wasn’t much to track, but we found the buck dead just 30 yards away. He’d been dead for a long time, so the arrow hit was much better than we first believed.”
After using an ATV to get the buck out of the woods, they skinned and caped the buck and took its head to Toby Hughes, a certified Buckmasters scorer. He measured the non-typical rack with three main beams at 189 inches.
“Very unique, very interesting deer,” Hughes says in a video he shared to Facebook. “Kind of a difficult deer to score. I had to back up and scratch my head for about 30 seconds.”
The buck wasn’t weighed, but it was likely well over 200 pounds. It’s a giant by any measure, and the spot where it was killed makes it all the more meaningful.
“My dad took a giant with a similar rack in the same general area 30 years ago,” Covell says. “He kept telling me that spot was a good one, and he sure was right.”