Houston County non-typical among those to be displayed
The biggest known Minnesota buck kill from this past season will be on display at the Outdoor News Deer & Turkey Show at the State Fairgrounds Feb. 26-28.
Ryan Weibel, of Holmen, Wis., encountered the unique buck, which scored 2330⁄8 non-typical and ranks No. 23 in the state all-time, while hunting private property in Houston County on the opening day of gun season.
He knew about the deer, as did many in the area. The buck, for its interesting antlers, had been nicknamed “The Freak.” The sheds had been recovered on neighboring properties the previous two years, though the sheds two years ago had been chewed on quite a bit by animals.
“The interesting thing is he was shot last year about a mile away with a bow, but survived that,” Weibel said. “He was basically folklore around the area. People talked about him for years, but pictures didn’t surface until last year.”
The buck had shown up on Weibel’s trail camera in the days leading up to the season opener, appearing to be peeing on a scrape.
On the afternoon of the opener, Weibel set up near that scrape, hoping the buck would return, but his hunt was interrupted by a wounded doe, shot by his neighbor. The doe died right by him.
“I helped him drag it back across the property,” Weibel said.
The neighbor suggested to Weibel that he hunt up by a nearby “point” on the property. Weibel took the advice, and within an hour of helping his neighbor, he was tracking the buck of his life.
“Sure enough, that buck was bedded down right on top of the tip of the point,” he said. “It was 40 yards above me, in thick saplings. I couldn’t get a shot at him at first. Finally, I got a little bit better of a shot and fired.”
With his shotgun, Weibel’s slug hit the buck through the front shoulder and exited its front knee. The buck, which had already survived being arrowed the year before, was not done yet.
“He fell down right away, but I couldn’t walk right straight to him, because it was too steep,” he said. “I start backtracking around to him, but I heard him ruffling leaves.”
On his way back around to the buck, Weibel crossed paths with the buck, but he didn’t get off a shot in the quick exchange, and the buck quickly made its way down the ridge, falling and crashing every so often.
“It was so close to dark that I couldn’t risk scaring him over the property line,” Weibel said. “We decided to leave him over night.”
The next morning, Weibel was ready to go, but those in his party wanted to wait before heading out to track the deer.
“I was getting impatient,” he said.
Finally, the party found the blood trail and found the deer about 100 yards from his initial shot still alive near the bottom of a ravine, where Weibel finished the job.
“Everybody keeps telling me that I should just quit hunting,” said the 28-year-old Weibel, who has paid the fee so it can be included in the next edition of ‘Big Game Records of Minnesota,’ which is put out by the Minnesota Official Measurers. “But I tell my wife every day that I can’t wait until fall to get back out bowhunting.”
Bob Dombeck, of Corcoran, is the main record keeper for the book, and said it is the top non-typical buck for southeastern Minnesota’s Houston County, a known big-buck producer.
“I hadn’t heard of anything else that big this year,” Dombeck said. “Of course, you are skeptical until you have heard who measured it. I had heard of nothing over 210 this year, so that was a good surprise.”
Dombeck was most impressed by the mass on the main beams.
“It’s got good circumference, and some decent point lengths,” Dombeck said. “I like seeing big, heavy stuff. It’s a good-looking rack. These deer don’t grow on every tree. Even when people know about them, they are not necessarily going to get killed. Some just die of old age.”
WIN MITCHELL TO SPEAK
Win Mitchell will deliver the seminar, “Training Your Dog to Hunt Shed Antlers,” at the show.
A replica of the Minnesota record typical shed antlers will also be on display, as Excelsior’s Jay Miller has agreed to bring his antlers to the show.
In 2011, Miller had seen the symmetrical-antlered buck in the swamp behind his home, and seen him on his trail camera, tracking him on a daily basis in hopes of recovering its sheds.
“You think so?” said Miller, asked if he had become obsessed with the deer at the time. “Ask my wife.”
After days of intently watching, he noticed the deer was missing an antler one morning. He went out looking for four hours and found the shed a quarter-mile away.
“I live in a neighborhood and hid it under my jacket so nobody knew I had it,” he recalled. “I was so panicky that somebody else was going to find it.”
He found the other shed a quarter-mile away from where he found the first one.
CANNON FALLS 8-POINTER
Minnesota Turn in Poachers will display its infamous Cannon Falls 8-pointer, a massive buck that had world record proportions and was killed in Goodhue County on Halloween in 2009.
The man who was found guilty of poaching the deer, among others, was sentenced to 245 days in jail for the crime, and lost his hunting privileges for five years, on top of $1,500 in restitution and $500 in court costs.
Another impressive buck that will be on display at the show is the one that was killed in 2014 by Stan Kreidermacher at the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area during a party hunt.
That buck measured 2485⁄8, becoming the state record non-typical muzzleloader kill, ranking sixth on the state’s list of all-time non-typical bucks, and fifth nationally among muzzleloader kills.
The story behind the buck was particularly interesting, as Kreidermacher’s nephews of the same last name, Layton and Landon, first became aware of the buck the previous hunting season. They stumbled on the buck’s sheds, launching an obsession with the buck that culminated with their uncle killing the buck.