Bowhunter Reunited with 200-Inch Buck After Shed Hunter Recovers It

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Kyle Culbreth didn’t think he’d ever find his big Ohio buck, but his fortune turned with a local shed hunter’s generosity

Rack Report Details
Buck: 202 1⁄8 inches (gross) 196 3⁄8 inches (net)
Time of Year: November 16, 2020
Place: Highland County, Ohio
Weapon: Mathews VXR

As usual, this buck looks even bigger in velvet. Image courtesy of Kyle Culbreth

Kentucky resident Kyle Culbreth is a dedicated deer hunter. He loves spending time in the outdoors with his family and friends. “Deer hunting is a way of life for my family,” Culbreth said. “Checking trail cameras is my 4-year-old daughter's favorite thing to do on weekends. She usually ends up with a cookie and drink from the nearby country store.”

Culbreth spends a lot of time hunting whitetails at home, and he travels to other states too. Last season he went to Ohio, where he had an opportunity at a giant non-typical scoring over 200 inches. It didn’t pan out exactly as he imagined it would, though.

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Starting from the beginning, Culbreth booked a hunting trip with Trophy Room Adventures. The outfitter had four years of history with a giant deer, including thousands of trail camera photos. In 2020, the 8½-year-old deer grew into its biggest rack yet. Culbreth has hunted since he was 12, and has shot some monster bucks, but nothing quite like this deer.

It was his first time hunting the area, too, so he wasn’t completely sure of what to expect. The morning of November 16, 2020, his first sit of the hunt, brought high winds and temperatures in the mid-30s. Upon settling in, Culbreth started scanning his surroundings, which consisted of crop fields and big timber. His treestand was hung on a ridge about 150 yards off a cover crop wheat field. A couple big draws stretched out, too. And with winds so high, he couldn’t hear anything. “I relied 100% on sight alone,” Culbreth said. But even his view was limited with the moving vegetation.

This buck has all the mass, tine length, and number of points a hunter could hope for. Image by Kyle Culbreth

Things started off slow. During the downtime, he ranged trees as distance makers in case he didn’t have time to range a deer prior to a shot. That would soon prove to be a good decision.

As the morning sun burned higher and hotter, the action picked up. Around 8 a.m., a small buck chased a doe past his location. Forty-five minutes later, the giant whitetail followed the same trail. “I looked up to my 11 o’clock and saw him with his head down working toward me,” he said. The wind was blowing so hard Culbreth saw him but didn’t hear him moving along.

The buck quickly closed to within bow range, and that’s when things got dicey. Culbreth couldn’t get the deer stopped for a shot. “The wind was blowing so hard I had to yell in order to get him to hear me,” he said.

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Once the deer halted, Culbreth took the broadside, 33-yard shot. But the high winds drifted the arrow slightly off the aiming point. Culbreth thought it was a lethal hit, but after giving the deer some time and then following the trail for 700 yards, he came up empty.

“Most of my story comes into play after the release of the arrow,” he said. “After not recovering the deer in the beginning, I knocked on every door in the neighborhood in hopes someone would one day recover it. I kept in touch with locals, and even made a trip up in the early spring to continue searching for the deer.”

Kyle Culbreth shot this deer on November 16, 2020, but didn't recover it. A shed hunter returned it to him nearly a year later. Image by Kyle Culbreth

Still, the buck’s whereabouts remained a mystery, and no one contacted him saying they’d recovered the deer. Months passed.

But then a few weeks ago, Culbreth got a call. A local shed hunter who’d found his buck learned that Culbreth shot the deer and couldn’t recover it. Upon hearing that, the shed hunter contacted Culbreth and gave him the deer.

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“I later found out that I even knocked on the shed hunter’s door, but he wasn't at home at the time,” Culbreth said. He’s grateful the shed hunter gave it to him, because it wasn’t legally required. While some of the local hunters were sad the deer was no longer on the landscape, people were genuinely happy for Culbreth.

“I was in shock and overwhelmed with emotions,” Culbreth said. “I’ve hunted for many years and have dreamt of a deer of this caliber. I am truly grateful, and it will be the most emotional hunting experience I likely ever have. Most hunters probably will never even see a 200-inch deer, let alone get a shot at one.

Every now and then, a sad story ends on a bittersweet note.