Jaeger, a 42-year-old employee of the Missouri Department of Highways, is an ardent bowhunter who gets out every weekend and at least two weekdays during Missouri’s archery season. “I’ve been bowhunting since about age 25 with bow, rifle and muzzleloader,” says Jaegers. “It’s something I’ve always loved to do and I get out every chance I get.”
For the six years prior to the 2011 season, Jaegers had hunted a lease near his hometown of California, Missouri where he took a number of nice bucks, including a 150-class 12-pointer. But after Jaegers recently got married, he decided to give up the lease and instead concentrate his hunting on a 300-acre parcel of land near the Missouri River owned by his father-in-law. And that’s when he first started hearing rumors of a massive, double-drop buck haunting the woods he planned to hunt.
“During the 2010 season I was still hunting my lease until it was up, but I had heard rumors from the locals of a big drop-tine buck in the area of my father-in-law’s place,” says Jaegers. “So I knew there was a nice buck there.”
Jaegers put up a couple trail cams, and even went so far as to hang a stand and hunt in the area a couple times, but he didn’t understand what was roaming his new hunting spot until he got his first trail-cam pic after the close of the 2010 season.
“I had heard so much about him from the locals, so I hunted some in late December, but it wasn’t until the season was over that I started getting a lot of trail cam pics of him,” says Jaegers. “I knew then he was a really big deer.”
One of the massive buck’s sheds was found by Jaeger’s brother-in-law and the other was found by a neighbor. Jaegers spent the rest of the summer scouting his father-in-law’s place and figuring out stand placements.
“I knew he hadn’t been shot, and he had been seen coming into a nearby beanfield late in the evening,” says Jaegers. “One evening I sat and watched him come into the field to feed, and when I put up my trail cams I started getting a lot of pictures.”
The more pictures Jaegers accumulated the more excited he got for the September 15, 2011 Missouri bow season opener. Normally Jaegers waits until it cools down in October and November to even start hunting. “But I knew he was in the area, I knew he was in a summer feeding pattern and I figured this would be the best chance I had to get him.” So Jaegers placed a stand on a trail in the woods between a beanfield and a bedding area he suspected the buck of using.
But on the afternoon of the opener, there was a problem: the wind had shifted and was all wrong for the stand placement. “I almost didn’t go that evening,” admits Jaegers. “The wind was wrong for my stand, but I just had a feeling I needed to be out there, so I took the chance.”
Jaegers snuck into his stand that afternoon and began the wait. “The wind, as I suspected, was wrong. I sat there for a few hours without seeing anything, but then a couple hours in I heard something coming up the trail on my right side. The leaves were still on the trees pretty heavy so I couldn’t really see very far into the woods.”
What finally emerged was a smallish eight-pointer. Jaegers momentarily let his guard down, but then the droptine buck suddenly appeared from the woods right behind the small buck.
“I saw the droptines and I knew it was him,” says Jaegers. “He was coming, and at twenty yards I pulled back my bow. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be. I settled the twenty-yard pin on his chest and released.”
The only problem was, Jaegers had been spotted by the eight-pointer, who wheeled and ran back down the trail at the same time Jaegers released. The big buck turned – right into Jaeger’s arrow. “It hit him in the neck and he took off with it back down the trail,” says Jaegers.
Jaegers sat there, stunned. “I told myself before, ‘don’t make a bad shot, don’t make a bad shot,'” he said. “I sat there and replayed the shot in my mind. I was worried.”
Jaegers sat there for a while and thought he heard the deer down the trail, but couldn’t be sure. “I climbed down and backed out of there to go get help. I wanted to give it time and I didn’t want to bump him.”
Jaegers waited two hours before coming back with friends. “And there he was, lying right there. He hadn’t gone far.”
“When I saw him in person for the first time coming up the trial, he honestly didn’t seem as big as I thought he would,” says Jaegers. “Maybe that’s why I didn’t feel as nervous as I thought I would. But when I saw him lying there, there was no doubt, he was big.”
Word spread quickly that the local legend had finally been tagged. “Once we took him into town I was hearing about it from everyone,” says Jaegers. The buck, which was estimated to be a 4.5 year-old, had 18 scorable points, grossed 201 and five/eighths and had a net score of 194 and five/eights after deductions.
“This is definitely the buck of a lifetime for me,” says Jaegers. Or maybe not. “I’ve got some pics of some other pretty nice deer,” he admits. But he’s got to wait until the second part of the Missouri bow season opens up before he can get back out in the woods. “That’s the bad thing about killing a nice deer on opening day, I guess,” says Jaegers. That’s a problem many of us would like to have… Keep clicking through for more photos and the P&Y scoresheet!
When Missouri bowhunter Keven Jaegers arrowed this massive, double drop-tine 18-point non-typical bruiser on the very first day of the 2011 season, it capped a two-year odyssey that started with a trail cam pic and ended with Jaegers tagging a buck that had become a local legend. Here’s how he did it.