Niles woman arrows potential state-record whitetail [Photo]

Lansing — Anyone who attended the recent Deer & Turkey Expo at the Lansing Center had the chance to see the head mount of a potential state-record crossbow buck in the women’s nontypical category. Brandi Zoll, of Niles, shot the 13-pointer netting 1712⁄8, according to Commemorative Bucks of Michigan, in Berrien County on Nov. 14, 2015. It was her first buck.

Zoll was not only lucky to be able to shoot such a whitetail, she was lucky to be able to claim it. Another hunter attempted to steal the deer from her, but, fortunately for her, that did not happen thanks to the detective work of several DNR conservation officers.

Zoll’s buck is labeled a potential state record – even though it is the highest-scoring buck in that category that CBM has measured so far – because the 2015 scoring period goes until the end of March. It’s possible that a larger nontypical taken with a crossbow by a woman could surface before then. 

The previous state record among nontypical crossbow kills for women was a buck killed by Susan Quiter in Branch County during 2014. The antlers from that whitetail scored 1624⁄8, according to CBM spokesman Martin Hollern.

Zoll was hunting from a ladder stand on the morning of Nov. 14 when she got her trophy buck. The stand she was in was on the edge of a field. 

“At one point, five does were grazing in the field, and that’s when I first spotted ‘the buck,’ ” Zoll wrote in an account of her hunt. “He chased the does into the woods and I could hear rustling of leaves and breaking of branches.”

About 30 minutes later, a doe approached her stand along the woodline. She grabbed her iPhone to take video of the doe. About that time, the doe took off and the buck that was chasing her came into view with his nose to the ground.

“I realized he was about to come out of the woods maybe 20 yards from me and (I) quickly put my phone away,” Zoll wrote. “When he cleared the woods (and entered) the field he looked up right at me and I froze. It felt like minutes that we had a staring competition, but I’m sure it was only seconds. He turned toward his right, making him broadside to me and looking away. I grabbed my Parker crossbow, got him in my scope, and took the shot.”

The buck immediately ran back in the woods after being struck by the bolt. Zoll’s husband was hunting a different property, so they made arrangements to meet and then returned to track the buck. A friend joined them. 

They had barely started following the blood trail of Zoll’s buck when they encountered another hunter, who also claimed to have arrowed a buck in the area that morning. The other hunter ended up finding Zoll’s buck first, put his tag on it, and took it home. Zoll took a photo of the other hunter’s license plate number and reported what happened to the DNR.

Three conservation officers were involved in the investigation of the incident. It didn’t take the officers long to confirm the buck in question had been killed by Zoll. She shot the buck with a 2-blade broadhead. The other hunter was using a 3-blade broadhead, which would have made a much different hole.

After confirming the deer belonged to Zoll, the officers confiscated the buck from the other hunter and returned it to her.

“The DNR officers congratulated me on a great buck,” Zoll wrote. “I thanked them for taking the time to help sort out the conflicting stories and look at the evidence.”

Zoll said she initially thought the buck’s antlers had 10 points when she shot it.

The whitetail’s antlers actually have a typical 10-point frame and three nontypical points. One of the nontypical points that is an inch long is on the back side of the right brow tine. The other two nontypical tines are on the second point on the left beam.

The rack has a gross score of 1745⁄8 and 33⁄8 inches of deductions for symmetry from one side to the other.

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