Oakland County buck sets new archery state record

Milford, Mich. — When bowhunter Robert Sopsich finally saw the buck he’d been dreaming about, there was no way he was not going to take a shot, even at 45 yards.

On the afternoon of Nov. 2, the Milford resident was on his way out to hunt from his brother’s treestand, situated along a field and a stand of Christmas trees, when he saw the trophy buck walking along the edge of the field.

“It was about 6:15 when I saw him. He was cutting across the field, quartering away from me,” Sopsich told Michigan Outdoor News. “He was walking, then he stopped and I was already drawn back.

“I knew which deer it was because me and my brother (Donny) had trail camera pictures of him, but this was the first time I actually saw him. I only have one pin on my bow – it’s set at 20 yards – and he was out there about 45 yards. I didn’t know if I should shoot or not. Then I looked at him again and I knew I couldn’t let him go. I put my pin at the top of his back and took the shot.”

Sopsich said he didn’t know right away if he hit the buck or not.

“At first he just stood there. Then I heard a ‘thud’ and he took off running across the field,” Sopsich said.

Not wanting to ruin his brother’s hunt, Sopsich went back to his house and waited for Donny to come back.

“I really wanted to go track him, but I knew I should wait,” Sopsich said. “I texted my brother and told him that I got the big one.”

Time seemed to stand still. Minutes seemed like hours.

When Donny Sopsich finally returned to the house, he told his brother he’d received a text message that his neighbor Mark Schwartz had shot an 8-point and needed help tracking. Not wanting to attract a crowd looking his buck – for fear that someone might inadvertently ruin the blood trail – Sopsich kept quiet about his success while tracking Schwartz’s buck.

“It took us about two hours to find his deer,” Sopsich said. “As soon as we found it, I told my brother we had to go. Then it started sprinkling and I really started to get nervous.”

Sopsich said they had trouble picking up the blood trail of his trophy. He finally went to the spot where he last saw the deer and found a little blood.

“We started tracking him across the field. He went about 400 yards and lay down in a ditch and that’s where we found him. I was still about 20 yards away when I saw him lying there and I started yelling and jumping up and down,” Sopsich said.

The excitement was justified. After the mandatory 60-day drying period, Sopsich had the buck scored by Commemoratives Bucks of Michigan certified scorer Barry Van Dike, of Hartland.

“Initially I wasn’t going to get it scored,” Sopsich said. “Then my dad said it was probably a Boone and Crockett and that it would be neat to have someone in the family shoot a Booner.

“When (Van Dike) was done scoring it, he told me I might have a new state record for typical bucks killed with a bow,” Sopsich said. “Then he went into another room and scored it again and came back and said,

‘Congratulations, you have a new state record buck.’ ”

Because it was a potential state record, the buck was then scored by a three-person panel consisting of Richard Wilt, Mike Heeg, and John Ohmer. Once all three agreed on the measurements, it was official. The buck grossed 1857⁄8 and netted 1821⁄8, sneaking past the old record by a quarter-inch.

Mitch Rompola has held the old record since 1985, when he killed a buck with his bow in Grand Traverse County that scored 1817⁄8.

The Sopsich buck sports 12 points and has a 191⁄8-inch inside spread. The main beams measure 264⁄8 and 263⁄8, and the longest tine is 11 inches. The buck dressed out at 185 pounds.

“You really have to see it to appreciate it,” said Sopsich’s father, Robert Sopsich Sr. “It’s almost a perfect rack.

“He was on the move and in the rut. One of our neighbors saw him in an open field two miles away just two days earlier. I told the kids they better get out there. The bucks were running around,” Sopsich Sr. said.

The younger Sopsich said he has killed about a dozen bucks so far, but has never had one mounted. This one is at the taxidermist awaiting a half-body mount.

The day after he killed the monster, Sopsich left for a construction job in New Jersey. While he was gone, brother Donny arrowed a 10-point buck in the 120-inch class that should score enough for Pope and Young honors (125-inch minimum).

“We had both of them on trail cameras and my brother and me were hoping for a shot at one of them,” Sopsich said. “For us each to get one of them was great.”

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