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Back on November 21st, Massachusetts bowhunter Chris Alberini climbed into his tree stand, trying to hold in his excitement as he hoped to waylay one of the biggest whitetail deer he’d has his eye on for years. But after drinking too much coffee, he was forced to scoot back down to the ground to do his business. He moved off a ways, dropped trou…and all of a sudden, there was a movement that led to Alberini taking a new No. 2 that measured 196 1/8 inches. We’ll explain.

Working Up to It

The story actually starts way back in 2016, when a friend of Alberini’s got a picture of the buck on trail camera. In fact, he got a shot at the buck that fall, but it wasn’t a lethal hit. The next year, in 2017, Alberini started getting pics of the buck and continued to for several years. All the while, the buck became notorious for covering a lot of ground in the suburban area they hunted. Alberini knew that other hunters were chasing the buck too. “From one point to the other, we probably had him up to 5 miles apart on the edge of his range. He was all over the place during the rut.”

No. 2 Massachusetts buck
A trail-cam shot of the buck shows the deer’s big drop-tine. Chris Alberini

All the hunters pursuing the deer were getting trail-cam photos, but nothing consistent. So, Alberini studied apps and maps to try to determine where the big whitetail’s core area was. He never pinned it down, exactly, but he felt pretty sure it was on a nearby property that didn’t allow hunting.

There was a pine thicket close to that location, however, to which he did have access. Two seasons ago, he posted some cameras there, and learned that the buck hung out in the spot for several days during the rut in both 2020 and 2021. This year, he hung a cell camera there and planned to move in as soon as he got a photo of the deer.

False Alarm

No 2 buck Massachusetts
A trail-cam pic of the big buck four days before Alberini tagged the deer. Chris Alberini

He hunted the spot twice in mid-October and saw the buck multiple times on the second day. Three times, a doe tried to run out of the thicket, and he cut her off and corralled her back into the cover. The final time, right at dark, the buck chased a 6-pointer out of the area. “He shot past me me at 40 yards,” Alberini told Field & Stream. “And when he came back, I got a shot—but missed. A deer that I’ve been chasing this long, one that I never see and finally do…I was devastated.”

His wife and friends encouraged him to keep hunting, and he was back in the spot for an all-day sit on November 21. He settled in before daylight and saw several deer that morning. A huge 8-pointer walked by, but with only one buck tag left in his pocket, he passed it in hopes of seeing the giant buck. “It was the hardest pass of my life,” Alberini told Field & Stream. “This was a big, mature 8-pointer, and I let him walk. He went into the bedding cover where I figured the big buck was.”

Around 10:30 a.m., after watching a spike buck chase a doe around—and after drinking a bunch of coffee on stand—nature began calling. “I was like, what am I going to do?” Alberini said. “I couldn’t get around it. I lowered my bow, grabbed some t.p. from my pack, and got to the bottom of the stand. Mind you, it was in the 20s that morning. It was cold.”

Once on the ground, he undid his saddle gear, left his heavy outer layers at the bottom of the tree, grabbed his bow, and went about 60 yards away from his hunting spot and the main trail to pop a squat. “As soon as I get started, this huge commotion breaks loose.”

And it wasn’t happening on the ground beneath him, either. It was two does barreling full speed out of the swamp. A small 8-pointer was following them, and a big buck was bringing up, well, the rear. The whitetails got within 40 yards of him, saw his pile of clothes under the tree, and locked up right there. Meanwhile, Alberini still had his pants around his ankles.

“The deer were running so fast that even if I was in the stand, I wouldn’t have gotten a shot,” Alberini said. “They were going full speed. Maybe I would have gotten an opportunity later, but not on that initial run.”

At this point, he sees the massive buck. It turns its head, and the drop-tine makes it obvious—Alberini has the monster deer he’s been chasing for years in bow range—and his pants are still around his ankles. Nonetheless, Alberini leaned back against the tree to grab his bow. As he does, the buck turns and starts walking directly toward him. At 30 yards, some brush obscures the buck’s line of sight, and Alberini drew his bow.

The Sitting Position

No. 2 Massachusetts buck
Chris Alberini

The deer kept getting closer, but Alberini was afraid it would see his bare skin shining, so he decided to take the shot at 25 yards. He put his top pin on the buck’s chest and sent an arrow straight through its vitals. The buck leaped, stopped, and looked right at him. Then he took three more steps and fell dead dead right there.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Alberini told Field & Stream. “I knew it was him at that point. The pictures just don’t do the mass of his rack justice.”

Of course, he couldn’t just waddle over the buck. So, he squatted down, collected his thoughts, wiped his butt, pulled his pants up, and walked over to that big old buck. After admiring the deer, he called his wife, then his hunting buddy and mentor. “It’s kind of bittersweet,” he said. “There’s no way I’m going to beat this deer around here. But I don’t care what he scores. He’s a great deer. It was great to share it with all the other guys who hunted him, too.”

Alberini believes the buck to be 9½ or 10½ years old. It scored 196 1/8 inches. If not for some broken tines, it would have topped the current Massachusetts state record archery buck, which grossed 198 inches. But really, isn’t it far more fitting that it’s the No. 2 buck?