By Brad Gaddis, Oklahoma

I received my Whitetail Institute seed around Sept. 1 and planted it around Sept. 15. The food plot was about five acres, and I planted a variety of seed types that included Whitetail Oats Plus, Pure Attraction and Chic Magnet. I was fortunate enough to get some timely rains, and by Oct. 1, the seeds had started to sprout and the deer started to move in. Before long I had two dozen deer using the food plot on a regular basis, including a half dozen bucks.

On Oct. 5 at midday, I went to check my camera on the northwestern corner of the food plot, and I had a picture of a large buck from the night before. The buck was a long way from the camera, and it was hard to make out, so at the time I didn’t realize exactly how big he was. I returned two days later to check my camera, and this time I had some really good photos of a monster buck. My initial thought was that he was at least 200 inches — by far the largest buck that I have ever hunted.

For the next week, the wind did not cooperate for my stand location, so I stayed patient and stayed out of the area so I did not pressure the buck. I continued to monitor the trail cam photos, and he was showing up on the food plot every night. Finally, on Oct. 12, the wind switched in my favor. I hunted every day from Oct. 12 through 25 with no sightings of him. I passed on several nice bucks in the 140- to 150-class range during that time.

Muzzleloader season started Oct. 26, so I hung up the bow and knocked some dust off the black powder, got it dialed in at the range and was ready for black powder season. Oct. 26 and 27 came and went with no sightings of the monster buck, but he was still showing up on trail camera photos every night. At that time, I decided to move back into the timber 50 to 100 yards to try and cut him off before he headed to the Whitetail Institute food plot. I hung a new stand on a creek bank where I knew he had to be traveling and continued hunting with black powder. I was still getting pictures of him every night on the food plot. He was just being extremely nocturnal.

Finally on Friday, Nov. 1, I had my first encounter with him, but because I had moved back into the thick brush, it happened too fast to get a shot at him. By the time I realized it was him, he had vanished back into the timber. I knew I was getting close at that point, because bucks were starting to rut, and he was finally up on his feet during shooting hours.

I continued hunting through Nov. 3, the last day of black-powder season, with no other encounters with him. I had been hunting the same deer for 22 straight days. I was exhausted and decided to take a day off on Nov. 4, the day after black-powder hunting ended. I snuck into my hunting ground midday on Nov. 4 to check my camera, and what did I find at 9:30 a.m.? He was hanging out right under my stand for 45 minutes with a doe. I was sick.

I knew he was with a hot doe, so I figured he would follow her wherever she went. The does were really piling into the food plot at this point, so I figured this was my chance to put him on the ground. I switched back to stick and string.

On the morning of Nov. 5, I quietly snuck into the stand one hour before sunrise hoping that would be the day. It was a still, cold November day. As the sun just started to break the horizon, I heard footsteps in the leaves. I pulled up my binoculars and could see legs through the brush headed my way. As it came closer, I realized it was a doe. I was hoping this was the doe the monster had been locked down with the past few days. I caught movement behind her, and when I pulled my binoculars back up, there he was—following right behind her, coming down the same trail.

I stood up, had my bow in my hand and was ready for him to present a shot. I let him get as close as possible, and when he walked into one of my shooting lanes, I let out a quiet grunt that stopped him in his tracks. My heart was pounding out of my chest, so I had to calm my nerves to make the shot. I lined up my sights right behind his left shoulder and let the arrow fly. It was a 25-yard shot, and he was slightly quartered away. I knew immediately that I had a good hit on him. I watched him running and thrashing through the timber until he got out of my sight.

It was 7:30 a.m., so I waited about an hour before I started my track. Once I started tracking him, I didn’t have to go far. I found him less than a 100 yards from my stand. At that point, I’m pretty sure I let out a loud yell, because I had just killed not only the biggest buck of my life but also probably the biggest buck I will ever see. The official Boone & Crockett score was 212-5/8 nontypical.