Correction: Earlier, we reported that this buck was killed with a .44 magnum handgun. This was incorrect. The deer fell to a lever-action rifle chambered for the .44 mag handgun round. _ Eric Hinderliter and his wife, Brita, are both avid hunters who spend much of the year afield in southern Indiana chasing trophy animals together. "I love sharing this time with her," Hinderliter says, "but ever since we met she has managed to show me up with higher-scoring bucks and longer-bearded turkeys. I always catch grief from my buddies." Not any more. During a morning hunt in mid-November, Hinderliter, a 24-year-old petroleum service technician from New Harmony, Ind., dropped this 29-point nontypical while hunting beside his wife. The unofficial green score grossed 221 6/8. Click through the slides to read his story, as told to Steven Hill.
“We met my father and my best friend, Dustin Paul, for a morning hunt on Nov. 15. We all spread out across the property, a 200-acre farm divided between cornfields and hardwoods.
“After not seeing anything all morning, I decided to get out of my stand and walk to Brita’s stand. She hadn’t seen anything either. We called my dad, and he said he’d be walking out soon, so we decided to wait around in case he spooked something out. As soon as I hung up the phone, Brita whispered, ‘Eric, there’s a doe.’ “
“The doe was about 100 yards away on the edge of a field, and I told Brita to take the shot. But the doe was acting funny–looking back into the woods nervously–so Brita decided to wait and see if a buck was behind her. Sure enough, he stepped out a minute later.”
“The deer walked down the field edge until they were 75 yards away, then disappeared back into the woods. I grunted three or four times and the buck angled toward us. The woods were so thick it was nearly impossible to see him, but I told Brita to stand up and be ready.”
“He stepped into a small opening with his left side facing us. Brita took a shot at 50 yards with her 20-gauge slug gun and he ran off with his white tail in the air, angling away from us. He stopped at 100 yards and looked back over his right shoulder, and I shot at him with my .44 magnum.”
“The buck took off again with his tail up and ran into thick brush. I quickly went to where I had shot at the buck, and found blood. We turned back, so as not to spook the deer, and waited for my dad and Paul.”
“At this point we were wondering if the deer was dead, and who had shot it. Is it yours? Mine? Ours? Either way, we would both be extremely happy.”
“After 45 minutes we went back to the blood trail. I followed it 10 steps into the brush, looked up, and there he was: a deer unlike any I had ever seen.”
“When I shot, I had no clue what an incredible rack this buck had. Brita was crying in amazement, even though we still didn’t know whose shot had brought it down. At this point, we really didn’t care. We flipped the deer over and saw the entrance hole on the right side and no exit wound. Brita said, ‘Congratulations, honey!’ She knows she’s got some major catching up to do.”
“Although I missed, I was thrilled for him,” Brita says. “He deserved a big kill like this.”
And she knows that Eric’s buddies, including Dustin Paul (left), won’t be kidding him now. “They wish they’d gotten something this big,” she says.
Sharing the hunt with his best friend and with his father, Mark Hinderliter, made it even more special, Eric says.
“When we were in the field, we only counted 25 points,” Brita says. “He had so many stickers off the brow tines going into his fur that some were hard to see. When we got back to the barn, we realized there were actually 35 points, 29 of them over an inch long!”
“You can see more points from every angle,” she says. “So many kickers off the brow tines.”
“We took the rack to Blackhawk Taxidermy in Cynthiana, Ind., and the taxidermist gave us the rack back after removing the skull plate,” Brita says. “He said he didn’t want to be responsible for keeping something this special in his possession.”
“Now Eric pretty much takes the rack wherever he goes,” she adds. And that’s only a slight exaggeration, according to Eric. “So many people wanted to see it the first week that I carried it in the passenger of my service truck wherever I went,” he says with pride. “It got to ride shotgun.”