Jake Murdaugh had never seen the giant buck that followed a group of does into an Oklahoma pasture, but he knew he had to slip in close enough for a shot
Rack Report Details
Time of Year:
November 28, 2021
Pittsburg County, Oklahoma
Remington 700 SPS .308
Jake Murdaugh is a rancher who spends much of his time living the agricultural lifestyle. His late grandfather started JJ Ranch in 1961, but passed in 2009, and it’s been worked by the family ever since.
“I have been hunting all my life,” Murdaugh said. “My dad started taking me when I was 3 years old. I am thankful for the knowledge he instilled in me in how to hunt big deer.”
This season, Murdaugh had the opportunity to cash in some of that knowledge on a huge whitetail. The hunt unfolded on November 28. It was a very sunny day with temps in the mid-50s. A slight southwest wind swept across the landscape.
He was hunting in some hill country in a 65-acre hay meadow, which was part of the larger 160-acre cattle operation. His spot put him facing eastward out into the meadow. To his right and rear were stands of thick timber that opened in several spots. And to the left was more meadow with intermittent timber.
Shortly after the hunt kicked off, a doe popped out of the timber several hundred yards away. She was followed by another 10 does, and behind them was a huge whitetail buck that Murdaugh had never seen.
“This buck came out of nowhere,” Murdaugh said. “I had no sightings of him or any camera pictures. Right away I knew he was a shooter.”
The buck followed the large doe group and chased one of them into a nearby cattle working pen. Knowing the buck was too far away for a shot, Murdaugh carefully stalked down the fence line toward where he’d last seen the deer. He used briars and small cedar trees as cover as he went. He stopped in a small group of persimmon trees to catch his breath.
“I knew I had to try to cut him off, as I still was not close enough,” Murdaugh said. “I crouched down and tried to move as fast as I could in low spots. I could tell he knew something wasn’t right, as he threw his head up a few times. I began to crawl and [went] approximately 100 yards before he finally saw me. I got on my right knee, shouldered my rifle, and pulled the trigger.”
The 200-yard shot hit its mark, and the buck took off. “He kicked hard and took off running,” Murdaugh said. “He jumped a fence and ran about 40 yards. As he was running, I watched him getting slower and slower.”
Despite seeing the deer slow down, it was still on its feet when he last saw it. He gave the buck a few minutes to be sure it expired. Just as the sun started to set, he walked over and looked for blood.
“I started searching where I thought I had seen him last, but could not find him,” Murdaugh said. “I called a friend to come help. My friend showed up, [and] we started looking for blood.”
His friend began at the point of impact. Murdaugh followed the route the deer had taken. He walked about 20 yards further, looked up, and spotted the deer lying there.
“This is a buck of a lifetime,” Murdaugh said. “I never dreamed at getting a chance at such a deer. I know this opportunity may never happen again, so I am embracing every moment. I do not hunt this place very often, as I have a deer camp where I spend most of deer season. But when I can, I like to go sit and watch the meadow.”
It certainly paid off on this hunt, and in a big way. The buck scored 194 inches, and mostly as a typical. They aged it at 6 ½ years old.
“The deer will be on a pedestal mount, where I will have the JJ Ranch brand implemented,” Murdaugh said. “I feel as if my grandfather was there with me that day. He always had patience. Without his teaching, I could not have harvested this great buck.”