Frank Ellis scouted to the extreme to get within bow range of this Show Me State buck of a lifetime
Rack Report Details
187 2/8 Inches
Time of Year:
September 15, 2019
Warren County, Missouri
Frank Ellis had heard about a huge, tall-racked buck near his home. He decided to investigate the gossip he heard early this summer. After a few weeks of dedicated scouting, he finally spotted the deer everyone was talking about. The buck was easy to distinguish, too: he had three main beams. The problem was, Frank didn’t have permission to hunt the farm where the deer was hanging out.
Undeterred, he started driving backroads nearby. He knocked on numerous doors and made countless phone calls asking for permission to hunt adjacent properties. Eventually, he gained access to hunt a farm about a half-mile from where he saw the huge buck. The property was about 100 acres, half of it timber and the other half soybeans. Frank set up nearly a dozen trail cameras on the property in June. And after just two weeks, the triple-main-beam buck appeared.
“Cell cameras allowed me to keep close tabs on deer inventory and movement patterns without pressuring my hunting properties,” he says. “I also did plenty of long-distance glassing with a spotting scope in order to learn this deer’s movement pattern without pressuring the herd.”
As the 2019 bow season drew near, Frank’s anticipation rose exponentially. But he was conflicted. He loves hunting with his 18-year-old son, Lucas, but he had only secured permission for himself on the property.
September 15 arrived, and with it, the opening day of Missouri’s bow season. Frank and Lucas sat at the dining room table discussing where they’d hunt that afternoon. Lucas encouraged his father to hunt the big deer, but Frank was torn. He hated to miss hunting the opener with his son, but he ultimately decided to try for the triple-beam buck.
Luckily, the wind was favorable on the opener, which allowed Frank to slip into his treestand unnoticed. The stage was set in a finger of timber: A bedding area sprawled to the north, a shallow lake cove glistened to the east, and a beanfield bottlenecked down to the south. It was a perfect setup, and even with the 92-degree temperature, Frank says he was confident about the hunt.
It wasn’t long before the action began, as the triple-beam buck stepped out at 5:42 p.m., crossed the shallow end of the lake, and cautiously inched toward Frank’s stand. “He was the very first deer I saw,” Frank says, “and it all happened so quickly.”
Seconds later, the buck presented a perfect broadside shot. Frank drew as the deer fed at the edge of the beans just 22 yards away. “The buck was looking away,” he says. “I focused on a specific hair and touched off the most perfect-feeling shot. The buck took off into the beans, and I watched his rack disappear.”
The buck fell over dead just out of sight. “This is the buck of a lifetime,” Frank says, who has been hunting for 35 years. “The planning and preparation ended up being perfect. This whole hunt just means the world to me.”
The big deer ended up scoring a whopping 187 2/8 inches, and Frank estimates he was 5½-years-old. He used a combination of new-school cellular trail cameras and old-school, low-impact scouting to conduct the search for this Missouri bruiser, and it paid off. Frank and Lucas celebrated the successful pursuit back at hunt camp. Splitting up on opening day wasn’t all that bad, after all.