True Genetic Potential

Whitetail deer come in many shapes and sizes. The more I hunt and observe them, the more I believe they are as varied in body size, shape, weight, antler configuration, and other attributes as are humans. Which leads us to story of one of the heaviest, chunkiest, most filled out whitetails I’ve ever hunted. I learned of this buck two years ago on Wildlife Eye footage and had Reconyx pictures of him last year. Both years he appeared to be fully mature so I estimate his current age to be at least seven.

I nick named this deer Fat Boy because of his unbelievable body size. His hams, chest, and especially his neck and head were abnormally extra large. Another interesting feature of Fat Boy was his antlers. For two years in a row, at age 5 and 6, he wore a mid 160s ten-point rack. Going into Fall 2009, I couldn’t wait to see if he was still around and what he turned in to. I assumed he would be the same. Boy was I ever wrong!

I had cameras out all summer at two different locations where I thought I could catch him on a bean field. I had no such luck. Long about mid October, I went into the fringe of where I thought he was bedding. I found a hot scrape on top of a ridge and put a camera on it.

If you follow the journal, you know I was tagged out with my bow in Iowa by Halloween morning with Chiquita. So I invited Jared Lurk to hunt the ridge where I placed that camera. I will never forget the call I received from him telling me about a monster 180 to 190 inch giant he encountered. I couldn’t figure out who he was and figured he was passing through due to rut activity. So with no bow tags left in Iowa, I decided to film Jared. The next North West wind found us back on that ridge. We didn’t see the giant, but I did pull the camera, which contained the pictures you see at right. I immediately recognized this deer by his body to be Fat Boy, but wow had he blown! He jumped from a mid 160s ten-point to an estimated 190 with seventeen or eighteen points!

We didn’t get a wind to return back to that ridge and Jared eventually killed, so I didn’t turn my attention back to Fat Boy, though he was constantly in the back of my mind. As Iowa gun season drew near, I started scouting religiously every morning and evening from a distance of 500 to 800 yards trying to put my Nikon spotting scope on Fat Boy.

On two different occasions I got fantastic footage through my spotting scope of Fat Boy on a bean field I planted in May. I was delighted by his daylight movement and amazed that none of his tines were broken in mid December. Come second gun season I hunted him on three different nights on a standing bean field.

On the third night he entered the field at 160 yards and faced us for forty five minutes, slowly working his way in to 115 yards. It was eight degrees and we were freezing cold. As we sat in the blind shaking like leaves we knew we had to stay focused. The moment Fat Boy would give me a broadside shot, I was going to take it. With about thirty deer in the field, it was only a matter of time before a doe got a little too close and ran off the field. As Fat Boy turned to run, he finally gave me an angle to take my shot. So I settled in with my NIKON BDC Reticle and made the fatal shot. The buck left the field apparently unscathed.

We went home to watch the footage. I was not enthused with my shot placement. I hit him low and forward, so I decided to wait until the next day to recover him. The next morning I found an awesome blood trail in the snow – a fantastic sight after a long night. Luckily the 250-grain Shockwave bullet had taken out the front part of both the heart and a lung. The buck expired just 150 yards from where I shot him.

Fat Boy field dressed at 225 pounds. This is the heaviest I’ve ever seen for a mid December harvest. Based on the Reconyx pictures from this year, especially the bottom one at right, I assume Fat Boy no doubt weighed in at 300 pounds in late October.

The story of Fat Boy is interesting, as it shows you never know when a buck is going to show his true genetic potential. Here’s a buck that looked to me to remain a mid-160s ten point all his life, but at seven and a half blew into a 194. Go figure!