Taxidermist Scott Odenbrett called in this 28-point leviathan with a doe can after only five minutes on stand, and then arrowed the heavily palmated buck at four yards. A green score tallied 256 7/8 inches--not bad for a 150-pound "Missouri hill deer" with a 16-inch spread.
As owner of Scott’s Taxidermy in Exeter, Mo., Odenbrett has seen plenty of bucks that are big by local standards. “Last year I took three or four bucks in the 160- to 170-class range at the shop, which is pretty good for Barry County,” he says.
Habitat in this Ozark region, which borders Arkansas in the southwestern corner of Missouri, is mainly “hills and hollers,” according to Odenbrett, with farming heavily tilted to cattle instead of crops. “Until the last three or four years we haven’t had the corn and beans to grow big deer, but that’s starting to change.”
It was actually the second time Odenbrett called this deer in. He rattled the buck up last December while hunting on the ground during the muzzleloader season. “I guess I had his number,” he says.
Well, almost. The shot from his .50-cal muzzleloader ricocheted off a branch. The buck dropped in his tracks, only to jump up and wander off as Odenbrett watched. “I assumed he was going off to die, but when I came back later to get him he wasn’t there. All I found was his horn.” The shot had knocked off the buck’s right antler, merely stunning him for a moment.
On Oct. 19, Odenbrett finally got a chance to try for the first time this season a stand about a quarter-mile from that site. A taxidermy customer kept him at the shop longer than he’d planned, and he didn’t arrive at the stand until 5 p.m.
After settling in he used a rangefinder to measure his shot lanes. Tossing the optics back in his pack, he noticed a Primos doe-in-estrus can he’d carried last season. “Sometimes the seals fail on those cans after a few seasons, so I tried it out just to make sure it still worked,” Odenbrett recalls. “I hit it three or four times and it worked fine.”
Did it ever. Odenbrett’s stand was located on a hill overlooking a deep, heavily wooded holler, and he immediately heard a commotion from the opposite hill across the way. “The buck just went to tearing stuff up, pawing the ground and thrashing trees and making all kinds of noise,” he says. “He heard what he thought was a doe, and he was saying, ‘Here I am, baby, and I’m on the way.'”
The buck dropped down into the holler and started up the hill toward Odenbrett, raising a ruckus all the way. He caught a quick glimpse of horns, but the buck was moving so fast he didn’t even have a chance to grab his bow. Before he knew it, the giant had stepped clear of the woods at 25 yards–and was staring straight at him.
“I seen him at the same time he seen me–I mean he looked right at me,” Odenbrett recalls. “He may have heard me breathing, too, because I was hyperventilating pretty good.”
“He stared at me 10 to 15 seconds, and then something caught his attention down the holler. He turned and looked down that way and I was able to reach up and grab my bow and pull back on him.”
Odenbrett had a true trophy standing stock still at 25 yards, but he had no shot: The buck was facing his stand with only his chest and neck exposed. “That’s not a shot I’ve ever wanted to take,” he says.
Then the buck put his nose to the ground and walked straight to Odenbrett’s tree. “I kept thinking he’d turn broadside, but he just kept coming. I saw he was going to pass to the left of the tree. I’m left-handed and I was still sitting down–he came in so fast I didn’t have time to stand up–and I knew if he got around the left side there’s no way I could spin around and get a shot.”
“When he was four yards from the tree, I finally decided I’d have to take a spine shot. I let the arrow go.”
The pass-through shot produced a heavy blood trail at first, but that soon faded and Odenbrett elected to back out. He still didn’t know exactly how massive was the buck he’d just shot.
“When he came up out of the draw, I could see his rack was really tall and he had kickers out the side,” he recalls. “After that I was trying not to look at the rack. I judged him to be about a 150-inch deer, and that’s what I went to bed thinking that night.”
“It wasn’t until the next morning, when we recovered him, that I realized exactly what he was. I was stunned.”
“I’ve got five or six deer mounted on my wall, and every one of them had ground shrinkage,” Odenbrett chuckles. “I would have swore each was the biggest thing I’d ever seen when I went to shot them, and when I walked up I thought someone had stolen my deer. But this one looked like he doubled in size overnight.”
Odenbrett and two buddies, Brian Robbins and Shannon Antle, found the deer that morning about 180 yards from his stand. “They’re big hunters, and they said it was the biggest deer they’d ever seen. They whipped out the cell phones and started taking pictures and calling people, and that’s when it really started to settle in.”
“When we found him his neck was swollen to 21 inches, his tarsal glands were black and sticky, and his brisket was rubbed bare where he’d been riding does,” Odenbrett says. “I firmly believe he was rutting.”
Rusty Johnson, an official scorer for Buckmasters and Pope & Young, scored the buck.
Working with his dad, also an official scorer, he took 2 ½ hours to come up with an official Buckmasters score of 240 7/8 and a gross green Pope & Young score of 256 7/8. Odenbrett says he’s been told those scores would rank the buck 8th in the world for Buckmasters, and it looks to be a shoo-in Missouri’s No. 2 P&Y buck.
The rack’s incredible webbing contributed to around 60 inches in mass measurements.
The 7 x 7 mainframe rack also features a 4-inch drop tine…
…split G2s, and 7- to 8-inch brow tines.
A passionate outdoorsman who loves to hunt, trap, fish and gather mushrooms, Odenbrett had been out only sporadically this season due to the demands of his taxidermy business. He says the wait turned out to be worth it.
“This buck is any hunter’s dream, because whatever it is you want he’s got: palmation, kickers, drop tines, you name it. And in the sideways view almost everything matches up; he’s pretty symmetrical even though he’s got 14 junk points on him.”
The 4 ½-year old buck field dressed at 152 pounds.
The buck is the talk of the town in tiny Exeter, making the front page of the local paper and spreading far and wide via blogs and e-mail. The buck’s far-flung fame now is a stark contrast to his life before, Odenbrett believes.
“This is big hunting country,” he says. “Men, women, children–everybody hunts around here. They’re using trail cams and just about everybody has a food plot. But nobody had seen this buck. That just blows me away. We’ve got enough woods and wilderness here that you don’t really know what’s out there unless you get out and try.”
Scott Odenbrett owns his own taxidermy shop in Exeter, Missouri and has seen his share of big bucks. During muzzleloader season last December, he thought he had a 28-pointer to call his own, but his shot glanced off a branch and only took off a piece of his antler. Steve Hill got the story of how Odenbrett got a second chance, and succeeded, in taking the same buck this year with a bow.