Cattaraugus archery kill likely state’s No. 2 buck

By Steve
Piatt
Editor

Ellicottville, N.Y. – Corey Wiktor readily admits he eats,
breathes and sleeps whitetails and whitetail hunting.

He uses quality deer management practices on his two leased
properties in Cattaraugus County and spends hours and hours there
in the off-season, looking for stand locations and hunting for shed
antlers.

Why, then, did this 29-year-old bowhunter shoot the first buck
that presented itself on the opening morning of New York’s Southern
Zone archery season?

Well, he has about 22 reasons. Maybe 24. That will be up to the
official scorers to decide when they measure his non-typical buck
that will likely end up as the No. 2 non-typical archery-killed
buck by New York State Big Buck Club standards.

“We green scored him very, very conservatively as a 22 point,
but it could be a 24,” says Wiktor. “It took guys over an hour to
score it.”

Ultimately, the buck will probably score in the low 200s (early
numbers are around 203), which would place it No. 2 in the New York
State Big Buck Club rankings among non-typical archery kills –
second only to Mark Surdi’s 205 1/8 Grand Island (Erie County) buck
taken in 1996.

Wiktor, who resides in Boston, N.Y., has taken several bucks in
New York, Pennsylvania, and in Illinois’ famed Pike County,
including four 8- and 10-pointers in the last five years that are
on the wall of his home.

“I’ve been fortunate, and I attribute a lot of it to luck, even
though it’s my passion and I put a lot of time into it,” he said.
“We try to manage our leases, as does a neighbor. We pass on
smaller bucks – a lot of guys have. Even some nice 14- and 15-inch
8-points, which is a nice buck and nothing to be ashamed of.”

How serious is Wiktor about his deer hunting? Well, a call to
his cell phone may or may not be related to his job as assistant
director of the Cattaraugus County Industrial Development Agency.
It could, in fact, be one of his trail cameras that takes a photo
that goes directly to his cell phone.

“I guess it’s an obsession,” he says. “And maybe it’s why I’m
single and don’t have a girlfriend.”

But until he connected with his 200-inch-plus buck, most of his
biggest antlers had been collected as sheds – he has five sets that
will score 140 to 170.

Including those from the buck he and his friend named “Jimmy
Buffett.”

Wiktor said that handle came “because my friend made the comment
that his rack looked like a piece of driftwood. In August 2004 I
got a picture of him with 16 or 17 scoreable points. I found his
sheds the following spring and he was a 9-point; it was all busted
up. We scored it at 144 as a 9-point.”

On opening morning, the snowstorm that had his much of western
New York knocked out power to his home, but there was no snow at
his Ellicottville hunting property.

At first light, another buck nicknamed Ribcage – “a perfect
six-by-six with a sticker,” Wiktor says – came in to his stand but
apparently got some scent and bolted away.

“I wear Scent Blocker boots but I couldn’t dry them out because
our power was out (because of the snowstorm) so I didn’t have them
on,” Wiktor says. “He cut my tracks and bolted.”

The big non-typical was eating some crabapples before strolling
to within 22 yards of Wiktor’s stand. He drew his Mathews
Switchback and made what he thought was a perfect shot.

“But the arrow deflected off a rib or something and exited
through his guts. I gave him an hour and there was no blood for 40
or 45 yards. I was just about crying,” he recalls.

To top it off, it started snowing silver dollar-sized
snowflakes, further whiting out any blood trail.

“I was so afraid I’d lost it. I was looking and looking and then
I saw his splayed-out tracks. He had gone about 75 yards,” Wiktor
said.

Wiktor knew his father was in another stand about 200 yards
away, and he was torn between sharing the moment with his dad and
leaving the whitetail of his dreams.

“I got it back to the Jeep and saw my father around noon,” he
said. “I told him, ‘I blew it, I shot a small one. I thought it was
bigger.’ Then I opened the back of the Jeep and showed him. It was
an awesome moment, just phenomenal, given the relationship I have
with my father. I’ll never forget it.”

To underscore Wiktor’s dedication to whitetail hunting, consider
that the buck was taken from a stand he hung back in March with his
father in the middle of one of western New York’s classic spring
lake-effect snowfalls.

“I still remember cutting away branches and dragging them 100
yards from the stand and scattering them,” he said. “I remember how
cold my hands were.”

Ashford, N.Y., taxidermist Lenny Nagel is handling the mount of
the buck, which aged at four-and-a-half years and weighed about 165
pounds.

Wiktor knows chances are astronomical he’ll ever harvest
anything close to it in his hunting career. And he doesn’t really
care.

“It really doesn’t matter,” he says. “The story of this buck was
just great, having a good friend like Dave Sabuda name it, just to
see a buck like that, let alone follow it and get pictures of it,
and then having my father be a part of it and friends and family,
it’s just been awesome.”

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