The ridge has been good to the family: Daniel's wife, Donita, shot a 138-inch buck there five years ago. His 14-year-old son Justin took his first buck there last year, and the year before his 17-year-old daughter Renee tagged her first deer on the ridge. And this year 15-year-old Savanna (right) arrowed her first deer while hunting next to Daniel on the same day he scored his typical.
Daniel Elder shot this 180-class Ohio typical at three yards while hunting on public land, from the ground–on his wife’s birthday. The buck’s 7 x 7 mainframe taped 192 6/8 gross, 183 7/8 net Boone & Crockett. If the green score holds up after the 60-day drying period, Elder’s buck should make Ohio’s top-five for typicals taken with a crossbow.
Tom Moore of North American Taxidermy green-scored the buck, recording a 21-inch outside spread and 19 3/8-inch inside spread.
The buck’s G3s are both over 10 inches long, and the main beams stretch 26 5/8 inches on the right and 25 3/8 on the left.
Elder, who lives in Whitehall, Ohio, has hunted the same ridge at the 4,500-acre Perry State Forest for 17 years. He frequently takes his wife and three children along. “We have a little spot cleared out behind some fallen trees along a horse trail and we go there religiously,” he says.
The ridge has been good to the family: Daniel’s wife, Donita, shot a 138-inch buck there five years ago. His 14-year-old son Justin took his first buck there last year, and the year before his 17-year-old daughter Renee tagged her first deer on the ridge. And this year 15-year-old Savanna (right) arrowed her first deer while hunting next to Daniel on the same day he scored his typical.
On October 30 Elder set up in his usual spot with Savanna by his side, while Justin hunted 300 yards away. About 8:30 a.m., he found himself in the middle of a buck parade. “A hot doe came through, with 14 bucks chasing her–every one of them slobbering and drooling and dogging her every step.”
“The bucks were all in a row, like kids waiting to get on a school bus, and this one was the last guy in line.”
Elder raised his crossbow and the buck saw him. Instead of stopping, as Elder expected, the buck quickly refocused on the doe and kept moving. Shooting at a moving target, Elder hit the deer much further back than he wanted.
The buck dropped off the ridge into a bottom, and Elder waited 30 minutes before walking to the edge and peering over. He saw the buck hobbling away and watched him walk out of sight. He fetched Justin and the two followed the blood trail until they saw the big typical bedded down. They decided to back off to give the buck time to die.
Daniel Elder returned to his spot, where his daughter was still hoping to fill a tag. She had to pass on a 160-class buck because the shot wasn’t there, but a couple hours later another hot doe passed by with a half-dozen bucks in tow, and she dropped an eight-pointer at 25 yards. They heard the buck pile up nearby and knew that Savanna had her first deer.
After field dressing and loading Savanna’s deer, Daniel and Justin set off to trail the big typical. “At one point, we lost the trail and Justin was on his hands and knees parting the grass until he found a spot of blood,” Daniel recalls. “I had veered off in the wrong direction following tracks that weren’t his. He got me headed back in the right direction. He worked so hard.”
They found the buck about 300 yards from the ridge. The celebration that followed was especially sweet because it came at the end of some tough times for the family. Daniel’s work as an auto detailer was hit hard by the recession, and Donita only recently recovered from a workplace injury.
Through it all the family has tried to keep up their high-spirited approach to life, which includes time spent outdoors. “When I leave this earth I want my kids to remember, ‘Hey, my dad laughed. We played, we hunted, we fished. There’s going to be bad times; I just want the good times to be better than the bad.”
So perhaps it’s no surprise that given her choice on how to spend her special, Donita Elder chose a hunting trip with her husband and kids.
“My wife gets hurt on the job, she’s out of work and has to have surgery, she gets better and comes back and the first thing she wants to do is go hunting with her family–on her birthday,” Daniel says. “Then I shoot the largest deer of my life and my daughter gets her first buck. That’s what I call a good day.”

Daniel Elder of Whitehall, Ohio has hunted the same ridge in Perry State Forest for 17 years, frequently bringing his wife and three children along. The ridge has been good to the Elders, including 15-year-old Savanna who downed her first deer while hunting alongside her dad this year. That was the same day Daniel tagged this 180-class typical whitetail from the ground with a crossbow on his wife’s birthday. What a present for mom, a nice deer from daughter and a monster buck from dad. Steve Hill talked to the hunting family and got the story.