Is This the Largest Buck of the 2019 Deer Season?

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Jacob Darbyshire tagged a huge Iowa whitetail in October

Rack Report Details
Buck: 259 7/8 inches (green gross score)
Time of Year: October 29, 2019
Place: Southeastern Iowa
Weapon: Mathews bow

That's 260 inches of whitetail bone. And it might just be the biggest free-range deer of the season. (Jacob Darbyshire photo)

Every deer hunter has different goals and standards in terms of the bucks they choose to shoot. But I think we can all agree that, when a 260-inch deer steps within range, it gets shot at. Every time.

Apparently, Jacob Darbyshire agrees. He recently tagged one of the largest non-typical whitetails of the 2019 season — perhaps the biggest. It’s a deer he called Major League. And it fell in none other than the great whitetail mecca that is Iowa.

Darbyshire is very passionate about the outdoors, especially deer hunting. He’s done it since he was a kid. “I started hunting [with my dad] at a very young age,” Darbyshire said. “As I got older, I became very interested in bowhunting. My love for hunting whitetails continued to grow. As an 8th grader, my parents bought me my first compound bow and treestand."

Fast forward to adulthood. “Today, it’s an obsession,” Darbyshire said. “There is nothing else I look forward to more than October 1st every year.”

The hunt for this 5½-year-old deer only compounded his obsession. “I’ve been hunting this deer for two years,” Darbyshire said. “I never had any encounters with him. But I had trail-camera photos.”

Darbyshire has plenty of history with the ground Major League called home. “I’ve been hunting the property since I was a little boy,” Darbyshire said. “My dad and grandpa have hunted it their entire lives as well. The childhood memories I have with this property are ones I will have forever.”

He also spends a lot of time hunting with other people to. And several people played key roles in the pursuit for this giant midwestern whitetail. “I have so many people that I need to thank that played a huge part in allowing me to harvest Major League,” Darbyshire said. “My mom and dad — Tom and Sheila — allowed me to run off and take time away from work and our family farm. My brother, Josh, helped me with everything all year long and is almost as obsessed with hunting big Iowa whitetails as I am. My cousin, Jordan Steffener, and brother-in-law, Travis Bennefield, helped me hang new stands, clear shooting lanes and check cameras.”

Most of all, he has a good hunting buddy to thank, who dropped what he was doing on October 29 to come help him the day he finally tagged the big joker. “Bryan Bockes took off work to come help me hang a brand-new set and clear shooting lanes,” Darbyshire said.

Winds coming out of the North, it was a cold, overcast day. So, he decided to go right back in that afternoon and hunt the thick, brushy spot where he and Bockes had just hung the new treestand. He quietly slipped all the way to it, climbed up, and settled in for the evening hunt.

It doesn't matter how you look at this buck, it's impressive. (Jacob Darbyshire photo)

He was set up on a West-facing ridge that overlooked a very steep ravine. Deer commonly traveled through it because it's much clearer and easier for them to navigate. He had little visibility to the left, right and rear. It was thick, nasty, early successional habitat. But that’s where he expected the big brute to emerge from.

The hunt started off non-eventful, though. No deer sightings. Darbyshire decided to get aggressive and pulled out the grunt tube. It paid off 15 minutes later. “He showed up,” Darbyshire said. “I was facing North, watching the two ridges where I assumed he’d come from. I heard a stick crack directly behind me — southward and downwind of me. He was standing in the bottom of the ravine making a scrape.”

His heart started pumping and the adrenaline kicked in. About two minutes later, the buck finished making the scrape. Darbyshire drew his bow, waited for the buck to hit an opening, and took the 18-yard shot. It hit hard — right in the brute's shoulder — but with enough penetration to get the job done.

“I didn’t have time to range him before the shot,” Darbyshire said. “Things were happening very quickly. I just knew he was close enough for my top pin. The shot angle was 100% broadside.”

He immediately called his dad and told him the good news. Then, he dialed Bockes — who’d just helped him hang the stand — and told him, too. He headed back to help with the recovery.

They followed blood — and covered quite a bit of ground — for about 30 minutes. Finally, they peeked over the next fence line and glimpsed the biggest main beam they’d ever seen. It was sticking up out of the CRP.

“It was a moment we will never forget,” Darbyshire said. Later that evening, we brought Major League back to the family farm. Everyone was there waiting to see what I’d been obsessing over for the past two years. Everyone was speechless.”

Speechless is right. It’s rare to see a 260-inch deer in the wild. It doesn’t happen often. When one falls, people talk. But only after their slack jaws draw back up and their tongues begin functioning again.

“This deer consumed my life,” Darbyshire said. “Ask my family. To be able to harvest this animal — after two years of work, dedication and help from friends and family — is rewarding and humbling. The hunt is obviously one that I will never forget.”

This hunt goes to show, with the right conditions, you can sneak into a buck’s core area, hang a new set and clear shooting lanes the day of the hunt. It obviously worked on this heavy-antlered, 259 7/8-inch brute.

Don’t Miss: Guner Womack’s Huge 16-point Oklahoma Typical

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