Trail camera images foretell 180-class bruiser in Morrow

Marengo, Ohio — During the summer of 2012, Greg Deckling and his father, Bill, had been watching a group of bucks through a series of images on their trail camera.

The pictures kept coming day after day from the Morrow County farm. Some bucks were still in velvet while others had shed. They could tell by the photographs that there were some shooters in the mix.

“As soon as we put that trail camera out, we started getting pictures like crazy,” Greg said.

When hunting season rolled around, the Decklings vowed to be ready.

So, when opening morning of archery season came, Bill woke his son early in the morning. As they prepared in their garage for the year’s first hunt, the Decklings went through their checklist.

Boots? Check. Camouflage? Check. Bow? Check.

The checklist went on until Bill asked his son about his deer tag. He didn’t have one so the elder Deckling told his son to go back to bed and they would give it a shot later.

“He was bumming,” Bill said.

“I had bought my (hunting license) earlier in the summer so I could go out coyote hunting,” Greg said. “I just forgot to buy my deer tag.”

Disappointed, Greg returned to his room for some more slumber, thoughts of the summer whitetail images dancing in his head.

Bill went out that opening morning and saw a nice 8-point and some does. He held out, however, knowing he and his son would return to their neighboring property later in the day.

“We’d been watching these deer since the end of July,” Bill said. “I figured there was no rush, so I waited until we could hunt together.”

Greg has been hunting for a few years, but it wasn’t until 2011 that he officially scored.

“He took his first buck last year, which was just a little 8-point during gun season,” Bill said of his son. “He said then that he’d really like to take one with his bow. I told him ‘you’ve got to get out early’ because he doesn’t like to sit out in the cold weather.”

Greg, 20, a junior at Mount Vernon Nazarene College, hasn’t much time to hunt. He’s a resident adviser in a dormitory and a full-time student. Still, he and his father had been planning their opening day since the summer.

“I took the first week off of the season,” said Bill, a police officer in central Ohio. “I figured this might be our only chance at patterning (a buck) and getting him down.”

The Decklings eventually made it into their treestands at about 4 p.m. on the opener. Settling in about 100 yards apart, the Deckling’s hunt was on.

“At about 6:30, I hear this mad dash from behind me,” Greg said. “I looked down through an opening to my left and the big boy was just standing there. He had just run out of that cornfield behind me and stopped. He picked me up because there was a west wind. He was looking right at me.”

Greg said he was nervous, especially when he thought the big buck had busted him.

“I said to myself ‘He’s got me pinpointed and he’s gone,’” Greg remembers.

The buck had a corn stalk stuck between his antlers. As he tried to shake it off, that gave Greg just enough time to get a shot at him at close range.

“My phone rings at about 6:45 and (Greg) is all excited,” Bill remembers. “He said ‘Dad, dad, I got him.’ I said ‘you got what?’ He says ‘I got the big one.’”

As it turned out, the younger Deckling got a five-yard crossbow shot at the buck as it walked in from behind his treestand.

“He said he shot him right behind the shoulder where he was supposed to,” Bill said. “When I got over to him, the (bolt) was still stuck in the ground. It was a pass through. There was some blood on it and it didn’t smell good. I wasn’t sure if he hadn’t gut shot him.”

The Decklings started tracking the deer, finding drops of blood here and there. Eventually, they found a larger pool of blood and then more blood in a thicket.

As it turned out, the buck had traveled about 75 yards after it was hit.

The taxidermist estimates that the Deckling buck, a 10-point mainframe, will score somewhere in the 180s.

“We’re still on Cloud Nine, I can tell you that,” Bill said. “We’re just thrilled that he got him.”

What makes the story even sweeter is that Greg shot the buck with a bow given to him by a friend who died last year. Tom Drake was 69 and a frequent hunting partner of the Decklings.

“Last year right before gun season, he passed away on my birthday,” Greg said. “That really put a damper on our season. I didn’t even think about hunting again until those trail camera pictures lit a fire under us.”

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