Father and Son Hunt Yields a 190-Class Buck and a Bonus Super 6

By author of Timber 2 Table Wild Game Recipes

Levi and Larry Watkins have been deer hunting the same Indiana wood lot for years, but this opening day was one they'll never forget

Rack Report Details
Buck: Mid-190s non-typical (estimate)
Time of Year: November 14, 2020
Place: Hendricks County, Indiana
Weapon: Remington .30-06

Sometimes it seems the good old days of just going hunting and lucking up on a giant whitetail buck are a thing of past. Most big deer tales these days talk about things like "history" and "multiple encounters." 

But just going hunting is exactly how Levi Watkins and his dad, Larry, scored on a pair of awesome bucks on opening day of Indiana's gun season. “I went hunting to be with my dad," Levi says. "We’ve always hunted this same little patch of woods together on opening day. It’s kind of tradition." 

Levi Watkins couldn't believe his eyes and kept counting the points on his buck.

As part of that tradition, Levi has come to expect his dad to always shoot a big buck. “I’m not sure how he does it, but he always kills a bigger buck than I do,” he says. So when he heard Larry shoot, Levi expected the news to come that he had a big one down, and he did. Larry had taken the definition of a "Super 6," with a giant 3x3 on the ground with a wide and heavy frame. 

“It was still early, so I decided to sit tight and see if Dad and I could double up," Levi says. "A few minutes after I heard Dad shoot, I looked up to see a nice 10-point standing there. I thought, Hey, this is going to be cool, we’ll double up and I will finally kill the bigger buck,” Levi says. He raised his rifle, found the deer through the thick cover, and squeezed the trigger. He missed. 

“I don’t know exactly what happened,” Levi says. "The buck didn’t react at all; just walked away. I got down and searched all around for any sign of a hit, but there was nothing. It was a clean miss.” Bummed over missing both the buck and a chance for an opening day double, Levi texted Larry.

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“He told me to get back in the stand. He had seen a big buck after killing his deer, and there was still a chance it would come my way. So that’s what I did.” The plan worked. Levi soon spotted a massive buck coming toward him on a nearby trail. The buck stopped at 50 yards and turned, offering Levi the perfect shot. This time, his aim was true. The big buck kicked and bolted out of sight.

“I’m 32 years old and I’d just shot the biggest buck of my life and I was dying to go look, but when your dad says to sit tight, you do.” — Levi Watkins 

Levi texted Larry again to tell him what had just transpired. Larry texted back and said to sit tight, he’d come over, and they would go look together. “I’m 32 years old and I’d just shot the biggest buck of my life and I was dying to go look, but when your dad says to sit tight, you do,” Levi says.

Soon he saw his dad’s orange hat appear on the same trail the buck had been on. Levi started toward him to meet up where the buck had been standing at the shot. Just as Larry reached the spot where the buck had been, Levi saw him jump up and start fist-pumping the air. He knew then that the buck was down.

Levi and Larry Watkins show off their opening day Indiana bucks.

Neither hunter could believe what they saw. The buck was huge, carrying mass all the way out. They counted, then recounted the points, coming up with 18 that would be scorable. “Dad was just as happy as I was about the deer,” Levi says. “We’d finally pulled off an opening-day double, with my buck being the largest.”

Even though Levi had never seen the buck before, neighbors had been watching him and shared trail camera photos.

Levi is waiting the 60 days to have the deer officially scored, but his taxidermist estimates it to be in the mid-190s. After getting both deer out and loaded into the truck, Levi knew exactly what he wanted to do. “My Grandpa doesn’t get to hunt much anymore. I wanted more than anything to take the buck by his house so that he could see the deer,” he says.

His grandfather was dressed and waiting when they pulled into the drive. “He just kept looking at the deer and running his hand over the rack. He couldn’t believe it, either. It felt good to be able to share the moment with both my dad and my grandfather,” Levi says.

Just because Levi and Larry didn’t have any trail camera photos of the buck didn’t mean that other hunters nearby weren’t aware that he was there. Word about the buck spread quickly, and neighbors from both sides of the property shared trail camera photos of Levi’s buck. “They’d all been after him, but they all congratulated me on the buck and shared their trail camera photos with me,” Levi says. 

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