DeBoer, of Tea, South Dakota, discovered the buck in fall 2013. Noticing huge rubs along a creek-bottom trail, he hung a camera and got photographs of the buck and two trophy-sized bucks running with him. DeBoer saw the typical once in November when it was too far away for a shot, and hunted through December with no further sightings. Scouting after season’s end, he pinpointed a spot where the buck could be entering his pasture and resolved to hang a stand there next fall. By June, trail camera photos confirmed the buck was still around–and was already sporting a 150-class rack, with lots of time left to grow.
Two weeks before the late-September opener, DeBoer hung his stand. Any doubts that he’d picked a good spot disappeared as he trimmed shooting lanes: From his new perch he spied both of the big buck’s sheds, and once he had the prizes in hand he knew the buck was bigger than he’d thought. “Judging by trail cam pictures, I’d figured him for a 160,” DeBoer says. “But the deer’s body was way bigger than we’re used to seeing, so the horns didn’t look as big. I didn’t realize how huge he was until I found the sheds.”
Convinced he was “right in the buck’s bedroom,” DeBoer spent as much time in his stand as possible, logging 14 sits before Halloween. Only once, on October 7, did he sit elsewhere—hundreds of yards away in a tower blind that overlooked his creek-bottom perch. “As the sun came up, I could see the buck a mile away on an alfalfa field, and I watched him slowly come down the draw to the creek,” DeBoer says. A trail camera confirmed that the buck had passed right by his creek stand that morning and evening.
October 31 was bitterly cold, even by Dakota standards. “I sat in the truck quite a while looking at the thermometer, not sure if I was ready for single digits,” DeBoer says. “I thought about sitting in the tower blind, drinking coffee and scouting. But I decided I had to try, because it was the day before rifle season.” By 9 a.m. he’d hung his bow and was hunkered into his parka, hands deep in pockets, struggling to stop shivering. “I told myself I had to wait until 9:30,” he says. “At 9:15 I heard some deer jump the fence. Five minutes later, I saw the buck.”
Twenty yards away and quartering to, the buck was on DeBoer’s right—an awkward shot for a right-handed bowhunter. “I waited to see if he’d move left, where I’d have an easy shot,” he says. The buck did, but stopped at 13 yards and stared right at DeBoer. “I was breathing hard in the cold air,” he says, “and I’m sure it looked to him like the tree was steaming. He turned and started to walk away.” Keeping cool, DeBoer drew and waited for the buck to hit an opening in the brush. When he did, quartering away at 17 yards, DeBoer grunted. “As soon as he stopped, the arrow was on the way. A perfect double lung hit.”
The 5×5 ten-pointer dressed out at 268 pounds, providing a lot of venison along with a record rack.
DeBoer knew—”We all knew,” he says—that the largest South Dakota typical in the Pope & Young book was a 182 7/8-inch Lincoln County buck shot by Curtis Courtney in 2004. Never for a second did he think he’d be rewriting that book himself. “My whole goal for the season was to see that deer from a tree stand. Anything more would be icing on the cake.” With a typical net score of 183 1/8 now official, DeBoer’s buck is the new South Dakota archery record—fine icing, indeed, on a true Halloween treat. But DeBoer’s record may not stand for long…there’s word of an even bigger South Dakota buck taken last season. Stay tuned.
_(Official score courtesy of Boone and Crockett Club‘s __online Trophy Search database.)_
Hunting on October 31, 2014,—one of
Field & Stream’s Best Days of the Rut last deer season—a veteran bowhunter tags a South Dakota record whitetail.