At about age 10, Al Krzykowski got his first bow from a local bait shop and began wreaking havoc on the local small game population. As he grew older and the whitetail deer population became more established in the Badger State, he quickly turned that 50-pound wooden recurve and his attention towards North America’s favorite big game animal.
At age 69, this retired construction superintendent has killed 138 whitetails with stick and string; and when you throw in the number of rifle kills, it easily tops 200. Obviously, Al has spent his time in the whitetail woods and has probably had more deer within range than most of us whitetail junkies will ever have. But, according to Al, he has never killed a really big buck.
“Oh I’ve seen a few big deer and have gotten close a couple times,” says Al, “but I haven't killed anything bigger than a 150-inch 10-point.”
Shortly after retiring and feeling the onset of arthritis taking hold, which has caused him to trade his compound in for a crossbow, his desire to kill a gagger buck grew stronger. So, being a Wisconsin native, and hearing all the stories and seeing countless grip-and-grin pictures, Al decided to hunt where those dreams seem to happen regularly every season: Buffalo County. Touted by many as being one of the top trophy producing destination in the Lower 48, Al was on a quest to fulfill his big buck dreams.
After doing some research, Al decided to team up with Cory Mielke of High Tines Outfitters and it didn’t take him long to realize he had made the right decision shortly into his 2011 fall bowhunt.
“Not only is Cory an accommodating and knowledgeable outfitter,” expressed Al, “but I saw 43 bucks while there, two of which were easily in the 160- to 170-inch range.”
Although Al didn’t kill a buck that year, he was determined to come back the following season and finish the job. So when he received a call from Cory in mid-September, and was told that they had several quality bucks patterned, he loaded up his truck the next day and pointed it towards Buffalo County.
Like any first deer hunt of the season, Al was excited to be in deer camp and couldn’t wait to hit the stand. Al’s ground blind was positioned on the edge of a bean field, with corn and alfalfa on either side a short distance away. Shortly after arriving a few does and small bucks filtered through, but with the evening still young, Al knew the hunt had promise. As Al was watching the activity in the field, his heart jumped when he heard the tickling of antlers and rustling in the bean field to his left. Unable to see what was making all the commotion, he tightened his grip on his crossbow, knowing bucks were close.
Hearing foot steps coming closer, his heart raced. A heavy-beamed 6-point came into view first, followed by a 145 inch 10-point. Although he was tempted to pull the trigger, he held off, knowing Cory had done his homework. Continuing to hear footsteps easing his direction, Al’s anticipation ran high; and when the 170-inch buck came into view at a mere 20 yards, he made the shot count.
Even after bowhunting for nearly 60 years and punching a hole through 200-plus deer, Al was still frazzled as he watched the mortally wounded buck bound into the corn. Needless to say, the realization of an old man’s quest was finally achieved when he recovered his Wisconsin prize the following morning.