Buck Score: 216 3/8 inches
Date of Harvest: Nov. 11, 2019
Location: Summit County, Ohio
Weapon Used: Compound bow
Rick Kisamore is a dedicated deer hunter, and spends a lot of time afield in Ohio. He learned to hunt as a child, and grew up chasing game in the hills of West Virginia.
“I started to bow hunt when I was 16,” Kisamore says. “I took my first deer with a bow when I was 18. From then on, there were many trips to West Virginia, southern Ohio, as well as hunting locally. My brother, Jeff, and I have spent countless hours hunting together. Now, he has grandkids that he is passing it all on to. I have two boys of my own that love to hunt as well. So, hopefully we will keep the tradition going.”
Today, he hunts a long, narrow property. In total, it’s about 120 acres. “It is bordered by a fairly large river on one side and railroad tracks on the other,” Kisamore says. “It has swampy bedding area, hardwoods, and some hayfields. It is surrounded by some large farm tracts as well as quite a bit of urban area.”
During the 2019 deer season, his life as a deer hunter finally led him face to face with a giant whitetail he’d been pursuing. And it all started in 2017.
The problem? The buck wasn’t a regular where he hunted. The giant occasionally used their property during the rut, but not often outside of that.
“I first saw him during the rut,” Kisamore says. “The property we hunt borders a river, and he was on the other side cruising for does. I just watched him walk away through my binoculars. I could see that he was palmated, so I named him Palmer. Other than during the rut, Palmer rarely came to our side of the river. Only in November and December did I get any pictures of him. I did watch him several evenings during the late season, but always across the river.”
His plan? Wait for the rut to bring the deer to his side of the river.
On Nov. 11, 2019, things were destined to change. Kisamore always takes off of work the first 10 to 12 days of November, and this was his last day to hunt.
The sun rose, but Kisamore couldn’t see it due to heavy cloud cover. It was cold, and a winter storm was approaching. He hoped the front might get deer on their feet.
“It was one of those mornings that is almost too quiet, you’re afraid to move because a little noise sounds so loud,” Kisamore says. “The temperature was in the low 30s. What little air was moving seemed to be out of the northeast.”
His stand was located on the edge of a hayfield. Facing east, a well-traveled trail showed plenty of deer tracks and promise. To the left was a narrow strip of woods. These were the areas of greatest interest, but deer commonly bedded in a swampy area to the front and a thicket behind the treestand. The terrain bottlenecks down at his location, though, and the deer travel it a lot during the rut.
The morning started out slow. His only entertainment were birds and squirrels. Around 8 o’clock, a lone doe eased through. It wasn’t long after her departure that a stick cracked behind Kisamore’s stand. He turned to look, and there stood the giant he’d thought about for two years.
While the buck was distracted, Kisamore came to full draw, grunt-stopped the deer, and settled the pin. The deer turned and looked back over his shoulder, and that’s when he took the broadside, 26-yard shot.
He spined the buck, and it dropped in its tracks. He quickly dispatched him with another arrow.
“It all happened so fast, but I’m glad,” Kisamore says. “I don’t know if I could have kept it together watching him come from a long way out.”
His brother and sons helped him retrieve the deer, and then the celebration began. “When I started making phone calls, every one of them were there in a short time,” Kisamore says. “Everyone was pretty much in awe.”
The success in this hunt was all about the rut. And as Kisamore puts it, the hardest decision is oftentimes choosing the right stand location. There are other difficult decisions, too.
“Which stand should I hunt this morning? Should I use a decoy or not this morning?” Kisamore questioned. “You just have to play the wind. Your instincts will tell you where to go and what to try. It was a perfect morning to try rattling, but I opted to go with good old patience and it definitely paid off.”
Deer activity can feel pretty random at this time of year, and oftentimes it is, but there’s some predictability to it, especially in that deer generally travel the path of least resistance. That’s what this big deer did, too.
Kisamore tagged a 7 ½-year-old buck because of it. It scored 216 3/8 inches.