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Mike Montgomery’s Ohio Giant

A Giant Whitetail From Sandusky County Ohio

Thank you for reading The Whitetail Shooters Big Buck Blog!

Mike Montgomery had never bow hunted in his life, but he decided that was going to change. While in Afghanistan serving a tour of duty in 2010, he purchased a fully equipped 2009 Bowtech Captain from a Military Overseas Discount Program. After his discharge from service, he hunted archery for the first time in his life and was able to harvest a doe.

During late September of 2013 Mike was asked by a neighbor to fill a vacancy and go on an Ohio archery hunt. This would be a guided hunt with a price tag of $3000.00, but with little notice there was no way he could save the money in time to make the trip. With Ohio long being one of his “Bucket List” dream hunts, it was a heartbreaking decision, but he had to decline the offer.

Enter Tom Burke. Tom and Mike had become friends while serving together in Afghanistan. Tom is very passionate about Coon hunting, and shortly after returning from Afghanistan in 2011, one of Tom’s coon dogs had died. He was now on the search for a new raccoon dog. Tom knows his bloodlines very well and his passion is the English Coonhound. It just so happened to be that he found his next English friend in Ohio. Tom must have been serious about his dogs, because he drove 11 hours one way to pick up his new coon hunting hopeful. As is often the case with likeminded people, he not only got a new dog, but new lifelong friends as well, in the Meyer family. The Meyers were the breeders of Tom’s new pup and every year since 2011 the Meyer family has invited Tom out for an Ohio coon hunt.

Mike works as a Veterans Outreach Specialist and Tom is one of his many clients. Tom would often come into Mike’s office to drink coffee and shoot the bull. One day Mike had mentioned to Tom about his offer to go to Ohio and how bummed he was that he couldn’t go. Tom then told him about the Meyer family and said he would speak to them and maybe they would invite Mike out as a guest. Tom soon spoke to his friend Chris Meyer, and sure enough, Chris had invited Mike out for an Ohio deer hunt! Making it even better was the fact this was not going to be an outfitted hunt, so money wise, Mike was able to make it work.

The 2013 hunting plans were finalized and Mike would be staying with Chris’s dad, Art. True to the Myer family hospitality, Art had gone far and above anyone’s expectations by staking his own name and reputation on Mike’s behalf in order to find properties for him to hunt. This impressed Mike a great deal, because the only things Art knew about Mike was that he was Tom’s friend and he was a veteran.

That 2013 hunt went off without a hitch but Mike left Ohio unsuccessful. Art wouldn’t have anything to do with that so he didn’t hesitate to invite Mike back for the 2014 season.

The Hunt is Set, The Makings for a Big Buck Blog

One year later Mike and Tom were back in Ohio and the scenario was pretty much the same as the previous year. Once again they would be staying at Arts, and Mike would be hunting properties that Art had earlier gained permission to access.

Mike wasn’t after a particular deer, or necessarily a large buck for that matter. He was just hoping to take a bigger buck than he was used to seeing in upstate New York where he lived. He did however, wish to at least see one of the true giants that Ohio has recently become famous for. Maybe something big enough to be featured in The Whitetail Shooters Big Buck Blog?

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One of only two known trail camera pictures of the big buck

The alarm clock rang at 5:30 am on November 15 and with all the excitement and anticipation of a bucket list hunt about to begin, Mike gracefully rolled over and hit the snooze button! At 5:45 he hit it again! He did the same when it rang at 6:00 am. Finally, at 6:30, Art came in the bedroom and rousted him from the bed. A late night of hunting stories and watching football had taken their toll. Mike walked drearily from the bed straight to the couch where he once again laid down. He decided to check his phone and sure enough, tom had left him a message. Tom had left earlier for a trip to Indiana to pick up a couple dogs for a friend, and on his way he had recorded a message at 5:45 am. Tom’s message said this, “Monty, you better rise and shine Mister. I just saw the biggest deer I’ve ever seen, cross the road in front of me. Not far from where you hunt either.”

That was all the motivation Mike needed! Art offered to give him a ride to his stand, but those plans changed when they arrived at the area. Upon arriving at the drop off point, there were 4 deer standing adjacent to the field Mike needed to cross. One of them was a definite shooter. Art had made a quick plan to drive down to the next intersection where Mike would get out of the truck and put the rest of his gear on, and then ride on the tailgate of the pickup back towards the drop off area. Art would slow as he neared the drop off point. As he slowly drove along, Mike would slide off of the tailgate by the adjacent field and head toward the stand. The plan almost worked to perfection, but the shooter buck busted Mike about 25 yards into his journey to the stand.

The area Mike was hunting is very flat with a lot of tillable land broken up by fence lines, tiled ditches, and small woodlots. The stand location was on a fence line by a ditch. Other than being spotted by the big buck everything was still in Mikes favor. He was walking westerly into a northeast wind, and the deer were north of his position. When he got busted, all four deer headed farther north to the next road. Art, who was still watching this whole scenario unfold, acted quickly again. He sped up and turned onto the road the deer were headed for. He cut them off so they would not cross the road, this allowed Mike to get to his stand. It was now about 7:30 am.

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The big buck running straight at Mike

The Show Begins

The next one hour and fifteen minutes were the craziest Mike had ever experienced while deer hunting. Once the deer held up and calmed down, Art went about his day. Observing the deer, Mike could tell there were three bucks and one doe. The shooter buck was running off the other two bucks the best he could. It was obvious the doe was HOT! Mike had been watching the chase for about 40 minutes when a truck pulled up to his east on the same road he had walked in from. The man in the truck saw the shooter buck too and seemed very interested. Suddenly Art came driving down the road on his return from town and he seen his friend Jim parked on the side of the road. Art told Jim the deer was fair game and gave him an idea of where Mike was sitting. After their talk, Jim started his stalk for the big buck.

Jim entered the field with his crossbow in hand. The wind was in his favor but he was also fully exposed. It didn’t take long and the four deer seen him, but to Mike’s surprise, when the deer ran they ran back towards his stand! All four deer were headed directly towards Mike’s stand, with the shooter buck bringing up the rear. The other two bucks weren’t hanging around any longer; one of them was a half rack 8 point that ran right in front of Mike’s but still 50 yards out. The other, a 1.5 year old 4 point went about 70 yards to Mike’s right and disappeared. The doe however, jumped into a ditch line about 80 yards to the right of the stand and held up. Would you like to guess who held up with her? Mister Shooter buck! But Jim was stalking him from the other side!

Imagine the thoughts racing through Mike’s mind; he had stayed up way too late; he was really late getting up and heading to the stand; and he had just been busted by the biggest deer he had ever seen. After watched that buck for a while, he’s now the closest to him he has been all day, and there’s a crossbow hunter stalking him from the opposite direction!

The buck is hung up on a hot Doe. It’s probably going to be the death of him. However, which hunter will have the chance to release that fatal arrow or bolt? Mike was literally getting sick to his stomach!

Jim was closing in fast and was only about 50 yards from the buck. However, the buck had been watching him ever since he stopped by the doe that was still bedded in the ditch. Finally sensing danger, the buck turns and runs away from Jim but stops broadside and stands 100 yards in front of Mike. Then the buck suddenly whipped around and ran back to the doe. Mike was swearing under his breath! Jim is closing in on the deer he’s now only 35-40 yards from the buck! Finally, the buck has had enough and retreats again. Following the same route he used for retreat the first time, but this time he didn’t stop 100 yards in front of Mikes stand, he kept going until he reached a small block of woods to Mikes left.

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Mike Montgomery with his 15 point Sandusky County trophy

The Calm before the Storm

Suddenly, everything seems calm.

Jim continues walking the edge of the ditch line, getting closer to Mike’s stand. Art had told him he was there somewhere, but he wasn’t exactly sure. He was about 40 yards from the stand when he noticed which tree Mike was in. Jim gave a respectful nod, then turned and headed back towards his truck. This was a very honorable move by Jim and this big buck blog gives him the honor he deserves for being a true sportsman!

Jim had only traveled about 10 yards back in the opposite direction when the buck decided to come back out and get the doe. Jim suddenly and unexpectedly found himself in a tough spot. He can’t move; he is literally stuck between a hot Doe in the ditch line and an eager buck trying to get back to her! Jim is again about 40 yards from the buck but is in no position to maneuver. Slowly, he tries to turn towards the buck but instead spooks him at the same time. The buck turns and runs directly towards Mike!

Not so calm, and not so collected, Mike stands and draws his bow. At about 50 yards, the buck angles towards the small block of woods. Mike gives a couple mouth bleats. The buck doesn’t react. Mike gives a third bleat but this time much louder. It was enough to get the buck to slow down as he approached a shooting lane. He was 30 yards away and still moving at a trot through the opening when Mike released his arrow. Between the deer moving and Mike shaking like crazy, the arrow hit the buck in the spine, dropping him instantly. The buck still had use of his front end and he was trying to get into the woods. Mike hurried out of his tree and put the huge buck down for good. He had just killed his first buck with a bow, the same bow he had bought while deployed in 2010.

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The big deer had a dressed weight of 212 lbs, and was aged at 5 years old

The great Sandusky County Ohio buck has 15 measurable points with a ton of character and a very unique look, a great deer for the big buck blog. His gross score is 200 1/8 inches and he net scores 185 6/8 inches for Pope & Young. His dressed weight was 212 lbs. and he was aged at 5 1/2 years old. A true trophy whitetail in anyone’s book!

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Beauty and character define the Montgomery buck. Photo by April Myers

Some photo Credits courtesy April Myers Photography.

I encourage all comments be posted below the blog. I’d like to hear what you think of Mike’s hunt and what you think about this great buck?

Minnesota Monarch

Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch

Thank you for reading The Whitetail Shooters Big Buck Blog, and the article about the Minnesota Monarch. The intent of this article to shed light on the sheds antlers and answer the following questions; are there three sets of sheds from the Minnesota Monarch? And did a hunter shoot the Minnesota Monarch?

Whatever became of the Minnesota Monarch? Are the three sets of sheds attributed to him truly all from this great buck? Was the deer finally killed by a fortunate hunter?  Today there are still just as many unanswered questions surrounding the disappearance and demise of this great buck as there were at the turn of the decade of the 1990’s. In fact, none of those questions have ever been answered.

The intent of this article is to shed some light onto little known facts surrounding this great buck, and to hopefully help solve the question of whether the Minnesota Monarch fell to a lucky hunter’s bullet, or simply walked into the wilderness to never be seen again. We’ll examine evidence by comparing antler configuration and characteristics from the supposed three sets of sheds, and a final comparison of antlers from what some feel may be the actual hunter killed buck.

How Big are the Minnesota Monarch Shed Antlers

The reigning world record non typical whitetail shed antlers have long been considered one of the most awe inspiring whitetails to ever grace the pages of history. As the highest net scoring whitetail ever recorded from the wild, the beautifully curved antlers have long been a publisher’s favorite, appearing on over 50 magazine covers and featured within countless articles, a true testament to its beauty and grace.

solving the mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch
Solving the mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch; this side view shows the beauty and grace of the largest set of antlers ever recorded from a wild whitetail.

As the antlers are mounted in the above photo, which is an exact replica of the bucks 1990 set, finished and mounted by Klaus Lebrecht of Antlers by Klaus, the sheds have a 23 3/8 inch inside spread. By all practical reasoning this appears to be a very conservative width. On the typical portion for each side the right antler scores 87 7/8 inches while the left side goes 84 4/8. Adding the spread credit gives the buck a 195 6/8 gross typical frame. Deductions for side to side symmetry differences total 8 7/8 inches, which gives the deer a respectable 186 7/8 net typical score. Another impressive feature of these antlers is the 50 inches of combined mass measurements. That places the Minnesota Monarch within exclusive company as very few wild deer have recorded 50 or more inches of mass.

minnesota monarch live photos
Solving the mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch; a rare live photo of the legend himself, the Minnesota Monarch

The numbers get even more interesting when we look at the 147 1/8 inches of total non-typical antler the buck grew. The right antler alone carries 92 1/8 inches of extra antler, which is a record in its own. The right antler has a total non-typical score of 180 inches! It is also the existing single antler non-typical world record shed. The left antler, with its 55 total inches of extra antler, has a final score of 139 4/8 inches. As for the shed antler record book, the great deer is listed as the world record non-typical matching set at 310 5/8 net inches. Remember, the shed antler record book does not allow a spread credit in its scores, so 310 5/8 is pure bone! As the sheds are mounted in the above photo the deer grosses and unreal 342 7/8 inches and net scores 334 even! Those types of numbers are rivaled only by the Boone & Crockett world record Missouri Monarch, and Ohio’s famous Hole in the Horn buck.

The Minnesota Monarch Mystery #1, Are There Really Three Sets of Shed Antlers?

Yes, there are three sets of sheds entered in the shed antler record book that are credited as being from the Minnesota Monarch. The 1990 set pictured above, a 1989 set that would score in the 230’s on the B&C system. These were followed up with a 1991 set that had 30 points and would score a little over 200 inches with a modest spread credit. All three sets are entered in the shed antler record book and are claimed to be from one deer. There are however, several people, including myself, that believe differently. Let’s examine the antlers themselves, and in particular the areas between the burrs and brow points.

The Minnesota Monarch shed antlers
Solving the mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch; are all these sheds from this great buck?

Whitetails have proven that when it comes to antler growth we need to expect anything and everything. What a buck grows one year may be quite different in the following years. There are however, a few “genetic locks” when it comes to antlers. For instance, the beading and veining within antlers from individual bucks will often remain relatively the same from year to year even with configuration changes. Also, the brow points usually stay very close to the same from year to year and their placement on the beams, at least within the several thousands of antlers I’ve looked at over the years, will remain the same. Color is also another characteristic that seldom changes from year to year.  These are important attributes that need to be examined  if we are to solve the mysteries around the Minnesota Monarch.

Look at the photo below, from left to right are the same side antler burrs from the three consecutive years of sheds attributed to the Minnesota Monarch, 1989, 1990 and 1991. A couple things really jump out at me. The first is the spacing between the burr and brow points. With two of the sets, 1990 & 1991, the base of the brow points sit very close to the burr. This fact is very rare in whitetails and it should be one of the genetic locks that we can count on from year to year. When comparing this distance on the 1989 set, it is obvious these antlers have a more “normal” space between the burr and base of the brow points. Another point is the burring and veining of the antlers. The sets from years 1990 and 1991 are nearly identical, but the 1989 set doesn’t match the later year sets.

Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch
Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch; are all three sets of sheds really from the Minnesota Monarch?

One more point: Biologists have told us that the pedicels on a buck are similar to a human fingerprint. Meaning, they will remain similar from year to year unless distorted from injury. Again, the pedicels on the 1990 and 1991 sets appear to be very similar while the 1989 set looks to be different in size, shape, and texture. It is this writer’s belief that the 1989 set of sheds belonged to a different buck than the 1990 and 1991 sets.

Was The Minnesota Monarch Ever Killed? Mystery #2, the Eye Witness Accounts

Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch.

This is one of the greatest mysteries surrounding the Minnesota Monarch. Some will say that yes, the buck was killed in 1991 by a female hunter. Others are of the impression that the hunter killed a different deer altogether. Let’s examine the facts and find a reasonable conclusion.

The person that picked up all three sets of shed antlers has from the beginning said there were two bucks using his winter feed pile that looked nearly identical. These bucks were so close in resemblance that he most always referred to them as being twins. They were each on his property for a couple years, and they both disappeared the same year. Now, let’s consider some things surrounding this great mystery.

Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch
Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch; one question always asked is whether the Minnesota Monarch was ever killed by a hunter? Some feel this rack is from the Minnesota Monarch

There is no question that during the deer hunting season of 1991 there was a huge buck killed by a female hunter, and that it was killed very close too, if not right on, the shed finders property. This deer came to light during the 1992 Minnesota Deer Classic. It was brought in by Lisa Baxter and it has long been believed to be the final set of antlers from the Minnesota Monarch. The Baxter buck scored an impressive 228 4/8 net inches. However, there are a couple details with Lisa’s deer that bring a conflict to what was previously known about the Minnesota Monarch.

One such conflict comes directly from the landowner and shed finder himself. He mentioned within a couple early interviews that the “Big One”, as he often referred to the Minnesota Monarch, didn’t show up on his property until “mid-February”. In fact, the deer was so consistent with this pattern that he actually knew when to expect the buck to show up. With the landowner being so certain of when this buck would arrive each year, how is it the buck would be there in November of 1991? As we know, whitetails are creatures of habits and patterns and are quite consistent with daily and seasonal structuring. Because of this I have strong doubts the Minnesota Monarch was killed by a hunter.

But there’s one more very compelling piece of evidence, and this is within the antlers themselves. As was brought out earlier in this article, the spacing between the burrs and the base of the brow points were nearly identical with the 1990 and 1991 sets, and the 1989 set was completely different. If we examine the burrs and compare them to the burrs of the killed buck, what conclusion would you draw? Minnesota Monarch; Solving the Mysteries, take a close look at the picture I posted below, in my opinion; the kill buck matches the burr to brow spacing, the beading, and the veining, of the 1989 set of sheds. I am of the belief the deer killed by Lisa Baxter was not the Minnesota Monarch, but was a second buck, the same buck the landowner referred to as being a twin of the Minnesota Monarch.

Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch
Solving the Mysteries of the Minnesota Monarch; comparing the bases of the three sets of sheds and the hunter killed buck
Minnesota Monarch; Solving the Mysteries

I am curious to hear your thoughts on the mysteries surrounding the Minnesota Monarch. Do you believe he was killed by Lisa Baxter? Do you believe all three sets of sheds are from the Minnesota Monarch, or only two? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear what you think.

Obviously, a big reason this deer is so popular is because of the celebrity status achieved from the countless magazine appearances, but another reason hunters have an interest in this deer is because of the unanswered questions surrounding him. Many are still asking, and speculating about the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and eventual demise. It is my opinion, based on what I have presented within this article that the Minnesota Monarch simply walked away like a ghost into the wilderness, to never be seen again. A fitting end to the largest net scoring whitetail to ever grace the earth!

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