Dawson Snider has been consumed by this monster deer for three seasons — and it finally worked out on a morning hunt in late September
Rack Report Details
189 1/8” (nontypical)
Time of Year:
September 26, 2021
Washington County, Ohio
Excalibur Matrix Mega 405
Seventeen-year-old Ohio hunter Dawson Snider spent a few years dreaming about the giant buck that woke him as he lightly dozed in his blind on the morning of Sept. 26, 2021. He and his father first saw the deer in 2018, when it was 3 1/2 years old. It was a tremendous young buck then, and they passed on him. In 2019, they believed the buck’s antlers would push beyond 200 inches, but again, they passed the deer because they believed he’d grow even larger in 2020. Due to his frequent appearances on the Sniders’ trail cameras and those on neighboring properties, they aptly named the buck “Hollywood.”
“Last year during the summer, Hollywood broke his left hind leg,” Snider explains. “His rack actually went downhill. We let him go again, and when we picked up his sheds later on, his right side measured considerably smaller than his left.”
Despite passing up the buck three years in a row, Snider didn’t eat tag soup. In 2019, he arrowed a 146-inch 11-pointer, and in 2020, he shot a 150-inch 8-pointer. Both bucks were taken with a compound bow. The high-school senior isn’t currently employed, but he knew that his best chance to get a shot at his dream buck in 2021 would be through property improvements — and that he'd need money to make that happen. Snider earned his cash with good, old-fashioned labor. He split firewood all summer, and spent $4,000 of what he'd earned on food plots, trail cameras, batteries, and deer feed.
As Ohio’s 2021 opener drew near, the now 6 1/2-year-old buck’s antlers were somewhat larger than they had been 2020, and the Sniders were ready to hunt the buck. They knew exactly where to set up, and positioned a Banks Blind along a field edge surrounded by large white oaks well before season. They also put up a feeder about 20 yards away.
“We’d mix protein with the corn,” Snider says, “to help the buck reach his antler potential. Dad also helped me plant the field in clover, chicory, and alfalfa. It was time-consuming, but I knew that my best chance to kill the buck would be within the first two weeks of archery season. So, I worked hard to earn my chance.”
With the buck regularly hitting the feeder in the mornings and evenings, Snider hunted all day on the September 25 opener. But the buck didn’t show. At least 13 other hunters knew about the deer, so stakes were high.
Snider was back in the blind on the second morning. It was foggy out, and the hunter took some time to rest his eyes. But at 8:30, something woke him suddenly.
“It was like God was trying to tell me something,” he says. “The window was slightly fogged over, so I carefully wiped my finger on the window. I immediately saw that the buck was standing broadside at the feeder 18 yards away. Fortunately, Banks Blind windows open quietly. Still, the buck looked right at me. Slowly, I moved my crossbow into position and began aiming.
“But I struggled to find the safety,” he continues. “Internally, I was freaking out. I kept my eyes on the buck, though, as I felt around for the safety. Finally, I found it. My heart was racing. I squeezed the trigger and made a perfect hit. I was confident that he fell just out of view.”
Shaking wildly, coursing with adrenaline and eyes welling with tears, Snider phoned his father to explain the details.
“Dad kept me on the phone for about 15 minutes,” he remembers. “Then, he told me that the deer was dead if indeed I’d hit him perfectly. Carefully, I walked out toward the feeder.
“At first, I found nothing,” Snider explains. “So, I walked in the direction he’d run. The weeds were about 4 feet tall, but I could find no blood on them. I was becoming anxious when I spotted a bedded deer a distance away. I thought that it might be my buck, but I couldn’t tell given the fog. As I turned to retreat, I spotted blood on some broom sage. It looked promising, so I followed it.
“Soon, the blood trail was phenomenal.” Snider says. “It was sprayed everywhere. In another 15 feet, I spotted a deer leg. I felt like I was going to pass out. I’d been on the phone with my dad, but I dropped the phone into the weeds and ran toward my deer. I accomplished what I’d set out to do. Right down to spending my last dollar on feed, I put so much effort — and money — into hunting this buck.
“I have to thank my dad,” Snider concludes. “He taught me everything I know about whitetails. He told me early on that if I wanted to kill this buck, I’d have to put my time in, and he was right.”