When JT Kreager pulled the card from the trail camera on a piece of ground in Delaware County, Ohio that he had just secured permission to hunt, he saw an image that looked pretty familiar.
“It seemed like for years I’d been getting pictures of and seeing these bucks that were really wide but didn’t have much else,” he said. “They’d have short tines, almost like they got wide and then just stopped growing. So when I saw a picture of a buck like that in June, I thought ‘Oh great, here we go again.’”
Fortunately, the buck Kreager’s camera had captured an image of grew. And grew. And grew.
“Yeah, he pretty much added inches on a daily basis,” Kreager said. “I looked all summer for a Booner. And when I found it, I decided to focus entirely on that deer.”
Kreager, who runs a trio of outdoors websites – America-Hunter.com, NextHunt.com and HuntInfo.com – ran cameras on properties across four Ohio counties. Those cameras had captured plenty of good deer, but nothing of the caliber he was after. Until “he” showed up.
“I was using a Trophy Rock to draw deer to the camera sites. And when I saw the buck was one I wanted to hunt, I hung a stand near a low spot in the fence the farmer had told me the deer had been using. That’s one thing I always do – I ask the farmer where they see deer to try and give myself a jump on figuring out a new place.”
As is often the case, the big buck was much more active in daylight hours during the summer months but gradually started gravitating toward nocturnal behavior as the hunting season drew near.
“The cameras were telling me when he was moving. I knew that hunting him in the morning probably wasn’t a good option because I’d either bump him or other deer going in. So I focused on the evenings and I need an east wind.”
It didn’t take too many evenings for Kreager’s plan to come together.
On Sept. 26, the second evening of Ohio’s archery season, Kreager was perched in the stand overlooking the fence crossing with a northeast wind in his favor. The evening started mundanely enough when a group of does made their way past his stand.
“I guess it was probably about 7 when he showed up. He walked right up to the does and was about 25 yards away. I actually drew on him but just didn’t have a shot and had to let down,” Kreager said. “That really made me nervous. But he ended up milling around a little bit and then turned and came right to where the does had been. He was about 15 yards away and broadside.”
When the deer passed behind a tree, Kreager drew his Hoyt AlphaMax, settled the pin and shot the buck right in the goodies. “I was sort of in that zone and don’t remember exactly what happened,” Kreager said. “But I watch him fall and that was pretty amazing.”
Kreager’s buck grosses over 195 inches as a clean 10-pointer. The buck boasts an inside spread of 25 inches, 12-inch tines and super-long beams that push 30 inches.
“There was no doubt it was him when I first saw him,” Kreager said. “It was just an awesome experience and this wasn’t a buck I just lucked into. There was a lot of scouting and preparation and that makes it even more special.”