Woman sets new state crossbow record for nontypical bucks [Photo]
By Richard P. Smith
North Branch, Mich. — Men weren’t the only hunters who bagged bucks with crossbows that had state record qualifying racks in Michigan during 2016. Two bucks that had nontypical antlers of state record proportions and one with a typical rack of that caliber were tagged by men in the state last year. Jennie Jolly from North Branch also shot a nontypical whitetail with a crossbow that set a new high mark among women.
The 23-pointer she arrowed in Lapeer County on Oct. 28 had an official score of 178 7⁄8. The previous top ranking buck among nontypical crossbow kills for women was 171 2⁄8. That was a 13-pointer that Brandi Zoll from Niles shot in Berrien County on Nov. 14, 2015. It was her first buck.
Jolly’s buck was her first kill with a crossbow. The previous deer she had taken were shot with firearms.
“My husband Bud shot an 8-point two weeks before and he was done hunting, so I used his crossbow when I decided to hunt on Oct. 28,” Jolly said. “We went to the same ground blind where Bud shot his buck. It was kind of a foggy day, but the fog was starting to lift. It was 10:30 a.m. before we got out to the blind.”
They were only in the blind for about a half hour when Jennie saw a buck coming from her right.
“All I could see was antlers,” she explained. “Then I heard a ‘blatt’ and it sounded like he was getting closer. He was in the woods where I couldn’t see him at that point. We have three shooting lanes mowed through the ferns. All of a sudden, the buck appeared at the end of one of those shooting lanes.
“He cleaned out a scrape underneath a pine branch. Then he put his antlers up in the branches and rubbed them around. He turned and came directly at me. When he stopped, we were eye-to-eye. I already had the crossbow up and ready. I had the crosshairs on his chest and neck as he faced me.
“When the buck started toward us, my husband told me, ‘This blind isn’t as big as your blind. You have to lean way back. If you get a shot and your limbs from the crossbow hit the blind, they will explode everywhere.’ My heart’s already in my throat, thank you very much.
“So I leaned way back so my shoulders were touching the back wall. The buck was 22 yards away. He put his head up and was sniffing. I thought I had better take him. He was starting to turn when I shot him. My arrow went in the right side of his neck and came out by his shoulder. He did a 180 and took off.
“He was the biggest deer I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m thinking he had an 8 or 10-point rack when I shot him. I asked my husband, ‘How many points did he have?’ after the buck was gone. He had been looking at the buck with a monocular and he said, ‘A lot!’”
Although well hit and leaving a good blood trail, the buck went much farther than they thought it would. Consequently, persistence was required to recover the whitetail. Jolly said she almost gave up on the blood trail, but her husband kept following. Jennie eventually found the buck on the far side of a river that it crossed. Bud estimated that they blood-trailed the buck about a mile.
The Jollys hadn’t seen the buck before the day Jennie shot it nor did they recall seeing it on any of their many trail camera photos. When looking back through those photos, however, they did find one image of the deer in the background when another buck had been photographed at night on Oct. 12. The nontypical was barely visible.
The buck had a dressed weight of 180 pounds and was estimated to be 4 ½ years old. The antlers have a typical 11-point frame and 12 nontypical points, totaling 37 inches in length. The longest nontypical point comes off the base of the left antler and is 13 4⁄8 inches in length.
The right beam was 25 1⁄8 inches long and the left was two inches shorter. The inside spread was 16 7⁄8 inches. The base of the right antler measured 5 2⁄8 inches in circumference and the left was 5 inches.