5-Year Pursuit for a Public Land Giant

By Brodie SwisherNovember 11, 2021

What does it take to kill a public land giant? 

For Patrick Burns, it took 5 years, countless trail cam images, over 10,000 batteries, and close to 1,000 miles of scouting to make it happen on the buck of a lifetime in Massachusetts.   

“I found his first set of sheds in September of 2016 and have been obsessed with him ever since,” says Burns. “I immediately put cameras all over the area, looking for every bit of deer sign and waiting patiently for my first photos of this brute, but it never happened that year.”

The one and only photo Burns received of the buck in 2017 showed a blurry image of a buck walking by with a crazy looking rack that looked like electricity on his head. That’s when the buck received the name, The Electric Buck.

5 Year Pursuit For A Public Land Giant
Burns knew he was on to something special, even from the first trail cam photo he captured in 2017.

Burns expanded his search in 2018 and consistently began to gather trail camera images of the buck. However, the buck was running the night shift and never presented a shot. Burns looked for the sheds when the season closed and later learned that the sheds had been recovered by a guy who found them in a ditch on the side of a dirt road. It was another piece of the puzzle coming together for Burns. 

Burns broadened his search yet again in 2019 and really started to hone in on the buck’s home range, including big woods, swamps, and high ridges. “I was getting closer,” says Burns. “I had a few pictures right at the edge of daylight, but he was still about an hour off, and I never caught up with him in 2019. 

Burns found 1 side of the buck’s rack after season, helping him tighten up on the buck’s core area.  

“The 2020 year was the first year I started having daylight pictures and video while he was in velvet,” says Burns. “I scouted just as hard in the spring and summer to try and hone in on the buck’s hideout. Unfortunately, I only had one encounter with him while he was with a doe that November.”

Burns later found the buck’s full set of shed antlers in February, despite there being over a foot of snow on the ground.  

5 Year Pursuit For A Public Land Giant
Finding a full set of sheds helped put Burns closer to the core area.

Burns went in to the 2021 season with high hopes of making things happen and finally notching his tag on the buck. He was getting regular daytime photos of the buck before, and during the season, including an image of the buck hitting a scrape at 4:45am on opening day, just 100 yards from where Burns sat perched in his stand. 

5 Year Pursuit For A Public Land Giant
The 5-year quest comes to a close.

The chess match continued up until the evening of November 4th, when Burns would finally get his chance. 

That was the day Burns spotted the buck 100 yards away walking up a ridge through the thicket. “All I could see was bushes moving and the occasional glimpse of his rack,” says Burns. “As he got further away, I decided to grunt to see if he might turn. Sure enough, he stopped in his tracks and paused for 10 minutes. I finally started hearing movement again and realized he was heading straight to me.” 

Burns eventually had the buck in range and prepared for the shot he’d been waiting on for years. After the shot, the buck spun around and ran just 20 yards before hitting the ground.   

5 Year Pursuit For A Public Land Giant
Good friends celebrating a great buck.

Burns admits he had become obsessed with punching his tag on this buck. “I’m still in disbelief,” says Burns. “Hard work, dedication, and some amazing hunting friends and mentors made this possible.” 

A big congrats to Patrick on the buck of a lifetime! 

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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