Hokah, Minn. – When the new Pope and Young record book is
available in a few months, it will feature a new record for the top
nontypical Minnesota whitetail, a buck known in southeastern
Minnesota as “The Hokah Legend.”
Ben Spanjers, who took the brute that scored 2263/8 in Houston
County near the small town of Hokah, said he’ll likely have the
impressive rack on display at some upcoming outdoors shows this
The 37-year-old manager of a Kohl’s store in nearby Onalaska,
Wis., said the buck already was quite well known in Hokah when his
father-in-law, George Walther, spotted the deer in one of his farm
fields in September. Spanjers drove to the area not far from his
home the next day. That’s when the seasoned bowhunter thought he
made his first mistake.
Spanjers parked his truck about 80 yards from a 10-row cornfield
near the nearby Root River, where he was detected by the buck,
which headed in the opposite direction down the corn rows.
“It sounded like a train going through the field,” he said.
After that, Spanjers hoped he hadn’t scared the buck from the
area, and set up a trail camera in the area in hopes of patterning
the animal. Turns out the buck had a pretty predictable pattern,
according to Spanjers, who said he accumulated more than 500 photos
during the fall.
“I got him on camera every night after that until I killed him,”
The buck would pass by late at night on most occasions, but
about every fifth night he’d come by before dusk.
Spanjers’ job keeps him from bowhunting as much as he’d like,
but he’s had the chance to kill several big bucks, he said. It was
after work on Oct. 3 that he took stand and a short time later saw
the buck approach. In fact, the big whitetail passed almost
directly beneath the stand.
“He came within five yards; I took him at seven,” Spanjers said.
He said the deer spotted him and turned to run just as he released
The shot was a good one, deep into the chest, he said, but it
wasn’t a pass-through shot.
“I knew he was dead,” he said.
After about a three-hour wait, Spanjers and two others began to
search for the deer, but were unsuccessful at finding it, so they
decided to resume the search in the morning.
He did so with a larger group than before; it was his
father-in-law, Walther, who found the deer not far from where
they’d searched the previous night. Spanjers said there wasn’t much
of a blood trail to follow: “Ten little specks is all we ever
found,” he said.
The celebration was short, however – Spanjers had to work that
Spanjers said the buck was a “very typical nontypical.” It was a
23-pointer with a 231/2-inch inside spread. It weighed more than
300 pounds, about 265 dressed. Based on the observations of those
in the community, the buck was 71/2 years old, he said.
Spanjers said it was the first time he’d hunted his
father-in-law’s farmland, specifically a small patch of woods.
Otherwise, he said, he tends to get permission to hunt farmland
owned by other landowners in the area.
The Spanjers Buck was officially scored in early December by
Chris Fechner, of La Crescent. Pope and Young officials verified
that the deer was indeed the new record.
It was submitted to the club a couple months ago, and was
officially accepted, according to P&Y’s Kevin Hisey. “It is the
new No. 1 nontypical (archery) in Minnesota,” he said.
The Minnesota Deer Classic Recordbook currently lists the
largest recorded nontypical as taken in 1989 by Glen Bullick in
Yellow Medicine County. Bullick’s buck was known as the “Crown of
Thorns Buck” and scored 2234/8.
Spanjers said he’s having a full-body mount done of his deer.
The rack will be on display in some locations around the state this
spring, including the Deer and Turkey Expo in Owatonna, March