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November 14: Steve Frantz

 

Steve Frantz picked up a new lease in Illinois by word of mouth this year, and he had no idea the giant buck he would harvest lived on it.

After setting up cameras and stands in August, Frantz left the farm and wanted to let it be his “Rut Farm.”

After arriving on Halloween, Frantz pulled camera cards. The first pull revealed an absolute giant. Frantz was ecstatic, and infatuated with the idea of simply seeing the mature whitetail. Upon reviewing all the pictures, Frantz realized he had a small home range and knew where he needed to hunt him. 

Frantz began the pursuit, although the access was less-than-ideal on the farm, by hunting on field edges with a decoy, as well as just inside the timber. Five days passed without a sighting of the buck he now named Dynamite. There was one camera Frantz hadn’t checked yet, and it was in the creek bottom of a finger on the farm. On October 22nd and 27th, Dynamite was on camera during the day. He knew he had to adjust his strategy. It was Dynamite or no buck. And he passed multiple great deer.

On November 8th Frantz had his first sighting. At 8:00 am he looked up the top of a thick ridge and saw a split second of Dynamite tending a doe. He had a picture of the buck without a doe that morning on the bean field when Frantz was walking to the stand. So, Dynamite had a new girlfriend. And Frantz knew he had to get up on the ridge with him. Mid-day November 9th, Frantz and his cameraman grabbed two climbing stands and went up the ridge—immediately seeing a giant rub. Frantz knew he was getting closer.

The next day Frantz packed a lunch and headed to the stand with his crossbow. Around 3pm he heard a deer walking from out of the creek bottom, heading right up the ridge towards him. He told his cameraman “get up here comes a deer.” It was Dynamite. The buck came over the ridge, his head and back lip curling.

The giant buck stopped at 35-yards behind a tree, smelling the air. Frantz was nervous the buck was going to wind them, as he was directly downwind. He did not. Dynamite walked about 10 more yards into a small lane and Frantz took his shot. The bolt hit right behind the shoulder a little quartering to Frantz. Dynamite ran 50-yards and stopped—then walked off. They decided to back out, with a giant buck like this.

Frantz and his cameraman came back at 7:30 pm. Fifty-yards from where they last saw him, the 212 3/8ths-inch whitetail lay on the forest floor. The scene was difficult to accept, but became more real as soon as he wrapped his hands around those antlers.

Gear List:

PSE RDX

Leupold rangefinder

Tru-Fire release

Nomad

Rage

-Ryan Miloshewski, DeerCast Senior Writer