220-incher falls to suburban Franklin County bowhunter
Circleville, Ohio – Rob McCarley is no stranger to seeing – and
ultimately shooting – big deer in Ohio’s woods.
But the buck the Circleville farmer scored on Dec. 8 was not
just another big deer.
This one, a big 17-point nontypical taken on private land in
southern Franklin County, green scored at 220.
It was McCarley’s seventh buck that will qualify for the Buckeye
Big Buck Club, which for inclusion requires a minimum of 160 inches
for nontypical deer. Three of those bucks scored at 185 or better,
and all of them were killed with a bow. Maybe even more remarkable
is that all seven of these deer were killed within a 20-mile radius
of metropolitan Columbus.
McCarley, 47, shot the 220-class buck, his biggest to date, on
Dec. 8, the Monday following gun season. The story of the hunt is
not a long, drawn out affair, to be sure.
“From when I saw this deer to the time I shot it was about two
minutes,” he said. “It was one of those things where from the time
I saw him come into the woods, saw he was a shooter and let the
arrow go it was about two minutes total. That’s probably a good
thing, I guess, because it didn’t give me time to get nervous.”
McCarley hadn’t been in his tree stand long before the big buck
approached from the backside, walking within 20 yards of McCarley’s
“He was looking, and he could tell there was something wrong,”
McCarley said. “So, that’s when I shot him.”
McCarley, using a compound bow, shot the bruiser in the neck,
not the most ideal of locations but the buck was looking straight
at him when McCarley took the chance.
The tougher part, however, was in the track. It took McCarley
three hours to trail and eventually find the deer.
It was a perfect day for hunting, McCarley reasoned, given that
a fresh blanket of snow had fallen during the weekend. Warmer
temperatures on Dec. 8, though, meant there was still some snow on
the ground, but also places where melting snow had left bare spots
on the landscape. It made for a tough track with little blood for
McCarley to follow.
“He was bleeding, but he was just dripping blood, not pouring it
out,” McCarley said. “In the snow, I could follow his trail, but in
the spots where the snow was melting I would lose him again.
Eventually, I lost (the trail) altogether, so I just started making
The buck, it turned out, had traveled about 500 yards after the
“The entry wound was up high and there wasn’t no exit wound
because I shot straight onto him,” McCarley said. “There wasn’t any
real hole for the blood to come out. But, as soon as he laid down
he just poured it out in buckets. I think he had bled on the inside
the whole time he was running around.”
When McCarley finally did locate the deer, the find was
impressive. The main beams are 8 inches in circumference where they
come out of the buck’s head, and he said it’s impossible to
completely wrap a hand around the area where the brow tines meet
the main beams.
“And it holds a lot of that on some of those other circumference
measures, so that’s what will help him score so good,” McCarley
McCarley, who said all of his bigger deer have been killed in
either Franklin or Pickaway counties, continues to be impressed by
the quality of the state’s bucks.
“Every year, you hear about more and more big deer being
killed,” he said. “Ten years ago, you hardly ever heard about a
200-inch deer being killed, but now there’s a half dozen a
The first person McCarley called was a buddy from his days at
Grove City High School, Mark Hemming, who now happens to be the
district manager for the Division of Wildlife in southeast
“That evening, (McCarley) called me at home; it was about 9:30
or 10,”_Hemming said. “I said ‘did you kill a big one, did you?’
And he said ‘Oh, yeah.’ He wouldn’t have called me that late
So, why is it that more often than not McCarley seems to find
himself in the company of large bucks?
“He spends a lot of time scouting,” Hemming guessed. “He’s a
full-time farmer and he sees a lot of acreage … In combine time, he
gets to observe a lot of wildlife.”
In their younger years, Hemming and McCarley spent a lot of time
trapping together. When Hemming was manager of Cooper Hollow
Wildlife Area several years ago he was there when McCarley shot his
“There’s just a lot of firsts with us,” Hemming said. “I was the
best man in his wedding and he actually waited until trapping
season (closed) that year and he got married the day after.”