No doubt about it, the family farm is a dying trend. However, some are still holding on, and Rodger Crisp certainly benefitted from it during the 2019 deer season. His father-in-law has 124 acres of prime Wisconsin hunting ground, and last year, a giant called it home.
In 2018, the area was loaded with apples, and deer activity reflected it. It just wasn’t enough to tag the buck, though. “I have many pictures of this deer from 2018,” Crisp says. “I just wasn’t able to cross paths with him in shooting hours.”
“There were three different times when he was in front of my stand: two times before I got in the stand and once after I left. Then, he disappeared for the rest of the year.”
Fast forward to 2019, and there were very few apples in the orchards. Overall deer traffic declined. At first, the big deer, finally nicknamed “King,” didn’t show back up.
Eventually, King made himself known and began frequenting the edge of the farm where there was little to no pressure. It’s a hilly area with hills and bluffs throughout.
In early October, Crisp’s son killed a deer during youth season. While on that side of the farm, the elder of the two Crisps pulled SD cards from trail cameras he’d posted awhile back. Photos revealed King was passing through quite a bit.
“My heart started beating really fast in excitement, because he wasn’t on camera at other parts of the property at all,” Crisp says. “I was thinking he might be dead. I wanted to go hunt him right then but knew better. I waited until I saw signs of big bucks moving on social media.”
By late October, big bucks were hitting truck beds and Facebook pages like nobody’s business. So, on October 26, Crisp received the northerly wind he needed to move in and hunt the deer.
He got up early that morning and started walking his entry route up the huge bluff. He jumped deer twice on his way in. He was worried that had messed up the entire day.
Even so, he had good conditions — rising pressure, cool temps and good wind — and continued the trek. He made it the rest of the way without encountering any other deer.
“My 18-foot ladder stand is positioned where two bluffs make a drainage ditch (valley),” Crisp says. “It is an awesome pinch-point for deer traffic.”
He sat motionless for an hour as it began to get light. Not seeing or hearing anything, he pulled out his phone to verify legal light had started.
“I looked up and there was a deer 50 yards out,” he says. “I couldn’t really see his antlers until he was in my shooting lane.”
The buck kept walking and cut Crisp’s tracks where he’d walked in. It immediately stopped and smelled his cover scent (Deer Dander). That’s when he finally knew it was a mature buck.
“I picked up my bow to shoot him and held my phone so tight the volume button beeped,” Crisp says. “He looked right at me. I saw how big he was, but still didn’t know it was King. Then, he put his head back down.”
The buck turned to leave, and that’s when Crisp drew. He aimed, touched the trigger, and made the 30-yard, quartering-away shot. The buck ran 30 yards and expired. He still didn’t know it was King. “I didn’t want to be done hunting,” he says. “I love sitting in the woods. So, I sat there 5 minutes and a coyote walked by.” Crisp shot the coyote as well.
Ten minutes after that, a doe and a 2 ½-year-old 8-pointer came in. He watched them mill around. “About 10:30 a.m., I got down to go look at my buck, anxious to tell everybody about it,” Crisp says. “I walked up to him and started shaking twice as bad as when I shot him.”
That’s the moment he realized it was King. “I couldn’t get to cell service fast enough to tell everyone,” he says. “It was an amazing hunt.”
Several factors played into helping Rodger Crisp kill this 4 ½-year-old, 196 5/8-inch buck, but it likely began eight years ago when his father-in-law logged the timber. “Here’s a hint to other landowners — eight years ago, my father-in-law logged the property,” Crisp says. “I was bummed but understood. Walnut trees were getting good prices and there were a lot of them.
“A year went by, and boy did the property grow thick,” Crisp continues. “It got so thick you couldn’t walk where you were able to before and the deer loved it. We noticed a big increase in deer and bigger ones at that.
I’ve hunted this land for 15 years and hunting for 150-inch-or-bigger deer for only seven years. I have three over 155 inches: a 156-inch 9-pointer, a 176-inch 10-pointer, and this one.”
Another factor was pressure. He only accessed the buck’s core area three times. Once to post trail cameras, once to pull SD cards, and one stand sit to kill it.
“We all wish it was always that easy,” he concludes.