So what do you want for Christmas? How about a 197-inch whitetail? That's what 16-year-old Austin Brimeyer got--a little early, of course. On November 18th, he arrowed a behemoth of a buck at 14 paces, followed a heavy blood trail to the deer, and found the sort of headgear that's on every archer's wish-list--all wrapped up, no less, in Christmas lights. Click through the slides to read the full story, as told to Dave Hurteau:.
Brimeyer was driving home from school at around 2:30 p.m. when he spotted a 160-class 10-pointer pushing a yearling buck across a CRP field on his family’s land in Dubuque County, Iowa. “I slammed on the breaks to get a better look, and they disappeared into the timber across from my stand.”
Brimeyer headed home, grabbed his stuff, and literally ran through the timber to his treestand. After sitting for about an hour, he grunted and then snort-wheezed. “I figured the 160 had to be the dominant buck in the area, and I wanted to push his buttons. But in minutes an even bigger buck stepped into an overgrown opening (shown) at about 70 yards out, looking for the ‘deer’ that snort-wheezed.”
With the buck trotting in, and without a lot of cover in his stand, Brimeyer drew when the deer was about 60 yards away. “I thought I saw a little flash of red on his left antler, but I didn’t pay it much attention. I was concentrating on getting a shot. In no time, the buck was standing broadside at 14 steps. I settled my 15-yard pin on him, let the arrow go, and could see I’d made a good shot. He ran toward where he came from, and I thought I heard him crash.”
While waiting a half hour or so, Brimeyer called his Dad and his friend Jacob. When they showed up, he got on the heavy blood trail. “The buck only made it a few steps into the timber and piled up. He had even more points than I thought . . . and he had something else, too. Suddenly I knew what that red flash I’d seen earlier was.”
“When I found the deer, my Dad and Jacob had circled out to watch the other side of the timber. I yelled out to them, ‘He’s got Christmas lights on him!’ They didn’t believe me. But sure enough, the buck had a string of lights wrapped up in his antlers. We figured he either rubbed a tree with lights or he attacked a plastic Rudolph or Blitzen in somebody’s yard.”
“When Jacob (shown here) saw the buck, he just couldn’t believe it.”
“And my Dad was in awe. In 40 years of hunting in this area, he said he’s never seen anything like it. The buck wound up gross scoring 197 inches.”
“I was really excited, for all the obvious reasons, but partly because my Dad and I like to have fun with each other. Until I shot this buck, he had the biggest nontypical (shown here), a 170-class buck with a 7-inch drop tine. . .
. . . and I had the biggest typical, a 175-inch 12-pointer I took last fall.”
Here’s another look at that same buck. “But now, there’s no argument,” Brimeyer laughs. “Or at least there shouldn’t be. But my Dad does claim that he still has the coolest nontypical, because of the big drop tine. I’ll give him that. After all, I wouldn’t have any deer without him.”
Brimeyer, by the way, does realize how fortunate he is. “Oh yeah,” he says. “We have some tremendous hunting in Iowa, and I’m lucky enough that we own a big piece of prime ground in the northeastern part of the state.” At 16, Brimeyer has already taken some 20 deer, 12 with a bow, including four P&Y bucks (shown here) in the last four years.
He’s taken all of his best deer with the same 45-pound Mathews Mustang compound bow, which he likes so well that when he grew out of it last year, he sent away for new limbs.
“But this buck is special,” he says. “Not just because he’s the biggest I’ve taken, but because with the lights in his antlers, he’s almost like an early Christmas present, and I couldn’t ask for a better one. A lot of people are already calling him Rudolph. It’s just as well he came in mid-November and not Christmas morning; it’d be a heck of a job getting him under the tree.”