Teen shoots 190-class buck in Ottawa County
Conklin, Mich. — Sixteen-year-old William “Will” Finkler enjoyed a week of hunting success last month that he likely will never come close to matching.
On Nov. 11, the Coopersville High School junior shot an 8-point buck with his bow and arrow that scored around 100 inches under the nationally recognized Boone and Crockett scoring system. Four days later, he topped that feat by shooting a monster 12-point buck with a typical rack that green-scored 1923⁄8.
“It’s been amazing,” Finkler told Michigan Outdoor News.
Will’s father, Bill Finkler, shot a 3-point buck with his bow earlier in the bow season, then Will arrowed the big 8-point.
“We had a lot of venison, so we agreed that we wouldn’t shoot anything smaller than an 8-point after that,” Bill Finkler said.
Neither hunter had an inkling of what awaited Will on opening day.
Will, his dad, his uncle Dale, and family friend Marty Lozon decided to put on a drive the afternoon of Nov. 15. Lozon and Will Finkler were posted at the end of the drive, while Bill Finkler and Dale Finkler walked through a swamp headed in their direction.
“I was sitting in my stand and my grandma called me and said there was a huge buck by the house,” Will Finkler said. “I ran to my truck and went down to the house, but I didn’t see him, so I went flying back to my stand.”
Grandma kept an eye out, though, and when the buck returned a few minutes later, so did Will, and this time he saw the buck in a pasture with a doe.
“William was hunting with his dad and his uncle on a drive and my other son was putting corn in the dryer and he saw it with two does,” said Lucille Finkler, Will’s grandmother. “He called me and told me, but I couldn’t see it. About 10 minutes later I got the binoculars out and lo and behold, there he was with his big, white rack.
“I knew the others wouldn’t answer their phones, so I called William. He came down, but couldn’t find it. About 10 minutes later (the buck) came back so I called William again and he came back down and this time he saw the buck.”
Will Finkler said the buck was in a pasture with a doe about 125 yards away and that he was able to crawl closer, to a distance of about 75 yards before the doe jumped a fence.
“He started to jump the fence after the doe jumped and I shot when he was in the air,” Will Finkler said. “I didn’t know if I hit him so I ran over there and started looking around, but I didn’t see any blood. I kept looking around and looking around and then I saw him standing on the edge of a swamp about 50 yards away.
“I shot four more times, jumped the fence and fell on my face, then got up and put my last shell in my shotgun,” he said. “I went down to the edge of the swamp looking for him but I couldn’t find any blood or anything. I kept looking around and there he was, laying about 30 yards from the last place I saw him. I couldn’t believe it.”
In the meantime, Bill and Dale Finkler finished their drive and were surprised to find that Will had left his post.
“Our friend was sitting at the end of the drive, too, and he said, ‘I don’t know what your son is doing,” Bill Finkler said. “I watched him run to the truck and take off. Then he came back for a few minutes and ran back to his truck and took of again.’ He said he thought he heard (Will) shoot and I said, ‘If he did, it must be a big one.’”
A big one indeed. The buck weighed 200 pounds on the hoof. The massive rack has an 18-inch spread, 23- and 24-inch main beams, 11-inch G3s, 10-inch G2s, and 9-inch G4s.
Bill Finkler said they let Will off the hook for leaving his post on the drive when they saw the buck he had shot.
The state record typical buck was shot in 1996 in Jackson County by Troy Stephens. It measured 198 inches. Only three other typical racks (1973⁄8, 1906⁄8, and 1905⁄8) that score 190 or more have been registered with CBM.