Long Island nontypical new bow record
Smithtown, N.Y. — Mike Giarraputo is the first to tell anyone that his encounter and subsequent harvest of a buck that set a new state record might just be “one of the more uneventful big buck stories out there.”
The 23-point Suffolk County buck notched the top spot in New York State Big Buck Club’s record book for the archery nontypical category with an official net score of 2104⁄8 inches. The total gross score tallied an impressive 2184⁄8 inches.
Giarraputo’s buck topped the previous state record, a 2051⁄8 nontypical taken by Mark Surdi in Erie County in 1996.
Giarraputo thinks his story is a bit uneventful because he simply doesn’t have a history with the buck prior to the one and only encounter. Trail cams Giarraputo had set out for several weeks prior to the season opener didn’t reveal a trace of the buck, nor had Giarraputo seen the buck in prior seasons.
The actual encounter, however, was full of the adrenaline-pumping action that comes along with shooting a state record buck.
Giarraputo headed out to hunt on the morning of Nov. 3, 2011, with a specific Suffolk County spot in mind. It was a traditional funnel site that had produced for him in previous seasons. The forecasted wind direction had been wrong for the site for several days leading up to Nov. 3 when Giarraputo finally got the wind direction he needed.
After climbing into his stand, the morning activity turned out to be unusually slow, with only a small 6-point buck making a high-noon appearance to check nearby scrapes. As the day wore on, Giarraputo noticed the wind changing to the point he became worried about his scent stream.
“The wind wasn’t going to be good for the afternoon with the way it was heading,” he said. “So I made a plan to move 60 yards to another tree at about two o’clock. I figured I’d give myself 15 minutes or so before making the move.”
It turned out to be a great decision. Right as Giarraputo was ready to concede the location, he casually looked back to see a massive buck standing exactly where the hunter had walked in earlier in the day. “He smelled the area and I could tell he probably picked up a whiff of my scent from walking in, but it must have diluted enough that he wasn’t going to bust out of there,” Giarraputo said. “I immediately knew he was big, but I really had no idea just how big.”
With the buck behind him, Giarraputo made a calculated decision to remove his jacket that was hanging on a hook so he could be ready to shoot on either side of the tree. “As soon as I was able to get the jacket on top of my seat, another buck in the mid-130 class showed up and walked right to the other buck. It snort wheezed at the large buck several times,” he said.
The smaller buck was still above Pope & Young standards and gave Giarraputo a wide-open broadside shot at 20 yards.He made the gamble to pass on the shot in exchange for the potential opportunity at the larger buck. After a few more moments of verbal sparring between the two bucks, the larger buck committed toward Giarraputo’s left side, where he had not previously ranged distances.
“I was trying to base my estimate on a log that I had ranged off to the side and I finally decided it was right at 20 yards,” he said. “The problem was there was only one opening and it was tight to a tree, so I had to be careful.”
Giarraputo bleated twice to get the buck to stop and then let the shot go as close as he could to the tree. “I watched the shot go clean through the buck right at the last rib and I was confident that I at least had a solid liver hit,” he said. “Since the buck didn’t move too far away, I made attempts to get another arrow into him but between the adrenaline and brush in the way, I could only make another superficial hit. I really didn’t want him to suffer more than he had to.”
The buck eventually moved out of sight, and Giarraputo’s years of hunting experience convinced him to err on the side of caution and wait the buck out several hours before taking up the trail. Once Giarraputo got down, he was greeted by a solid blood trail and a short 80-yard recovery of the buck.
“I couldn’t believe it. I kept trying to count points but I kept getting different numbers each time. I kind of chuckled because my hunting partner was in Illinois hunting at the time and I shot this giant buck here at home,” Giarraputo said.
Giarraputo and his son got the buck back to the truck and took it home, where they were greeted by a handful of hunting friends who were informed of the buck. “I think everyone knew it was really big,” Giarraputo said. “We certainly celebrated that night and caped the buck out to prepare it for processing since the temps were high. It was only a few days after that we started to realize that the buck may challenge the record book.”
Acquaintances got Giarraputo in touch with official scorers for the New York State Big Buck Club, who agreed the buck was likely going to grab the top spot in the archery nontypical category. After the mandatory 60-day drying period, the buck was officially scored. The buck likely would have had a slightly higher score if not for a mishap that Giarraputo learned about from his daughter.
“I washed out my truck bed the day after killing the buck,” he said. “Later that day, my young daughter picked up a small piece of antler in the driveway and asked me what it was. It turned out to be a broken sticker point from the buck and I didn’t even know it broke off until she shared it with me. It must have broken off during loading or unloading.”
Perhaps the most astonishing fact is that the buck, while sporting a massive rack, was aged by the DEC at a mere 3.5 years old. “It wasn’t one of those bucks that eluded hunters for five or more years and got bigger and bigger. The buck had a field dressed weight of 165 pounds, which is average for a buck of that age in our area,” Giarraputo said. “More than likely, it was just the right combination of available food and cover, a little bit of age, and some good genetics. No complaints from me on that.”