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After archery season heartbreak, dedicated hunter refuses to give up on bagging #6 buck

Mike Marshall of Orlando, Fla. took last season’s #6 biggest buck on Nov. 9, 2008 while hunting in eastern Orange County – killing an incredible 13-point that gross scored a whopping 163-1/8 inches before deductions!

Mike’s big Orange County buck had 11 main points and a pair of abnormal points (one on each side) measuring 2-1/8 and 1-4/8 inches. The buck’s long main beams measured 24-2/8 inches and featured wicked 7-inch brow tines complimented by long G2’s (7-2/8 and 9-2/8), G3s (10-2/8 and 11-3/8) and G4’s (10-3/8 and 6-3/8).

The rack featured a sixth point on the right antler (2-4/8 inches) and abnormal points on both sides that added up to almost 15 inches in deductions for differences between the two sides – knocking the 163-1/8-inch gross score down to a net of 148-2/8 inches. The buck’s main beams (complete with crab claw tines) almost touch at the tips for a rare “0-inch” tip-to-tip spread, yet the rack scored a 14-5/8-inch inside spread and a greatest spread of 16-3/8 inches.

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by Mike Marshall

I first started hunting this buck five years ago when he was about three years old.

I watched him over the next two seasons from a long way off before I lost track of him for two years and figured he must have been killed. The first time I saw him this past season was the second weekend of archery season, when I shot him midway back while aiming for the spine. Of course, I missed the spine and the arrow ran up the backstrap and stopped in the base of his neck (I guess I need to talk to Muzzy!).

Needless to say I was sick! For four weeks I looked for this buck every day. The day I shot him with my bow I took a great trail dog (“Chase,” a black Labrador owned by my friend John) in that night and searched for hours until I heard him fighting off a bunch of coyotes.

I knew he was still alive, so I backed out of the area to avoid busting him out. I figured either he would survive or I would find him in the morning with the help of the dog.

I went back early the following morning, and the dog went straight to the same spot. I found the area all torn up from the fight the night before, but no sign of the buck. Every day I would return and look for signs or for buzzards. I was sick to my stomach each and every day for four weeks – except for one brief moment during muzzleloader weekend, when I saw him again! He was alive!

My heart jumped in my throat. But, I couldn’t get close enough for the shot. Once again, I was sick.

But, I finally recovered my broadhead on opening weekend of general gun season this past year.

I had a permit to hunt opening weekend at Three Lakes WMA, but I just couldn’t concentrate while there. All I wanted was to go back and hunt this big buck I had missed.

So, I left early Sunday and was in my stand (located on a small piece of private property in eastern Orange County) by early Sunday afternoon. He came out in the early afternoon with some does. I was shaking so bad that I had a hard time making the shot with my Remington Model 722 (chambered in .223) despite the fact he was only 80 yards away.

I must tell you that once he was on the ground this 56-year-old hunter had to call a good young friend of mine Jeff to come and carry him out for me. He put the deer on his back and packed him all the way out of the swamp in the dark. If not for Jeff, I would have had to cut him up.

Thankfully, Jeff wouldn’t allow it. We gutted and hung the deer at his house, and the next morning we weighed him at 150 lbs. (gutted weight).

The FWC biologist that scored him, Daniel McDonald, estimated that he could have weighed about 210 lbs. before I wounded him with my bow. A big “thank-you” also goes out to my friend Chad, who helped me track my buck, which ended up gross scoring 163-1/8 inches and netting 148-2/8 inches after deductions.

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