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Wednesday, May 31st, 2023

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First time bow kill turns out to be 214-incher for Ohio hunter

Truman Sink, of Eaton, arrowed this 214-inch buck last October in Preble County. Remarkably, it was Sink’s first buck. (Photo courtesy Rick Busse’s Wildlife Studio)

Eaton, Ohio — Most deer hunters can remember vivid details about their first bow kill.

For Truman Sink, his first bow kill, which happened last fall, will likewise be hard to forget.

Or top.

The 19-year-old hunter from Eaton killed a 23-point non-typical buck on Oct. 29, 2022, that scored an almost unbelievable 214 2⁄8 inches.

“I got pretty lucky to be able to shoot that thing,” Sink told Ohio Outdoor News during an interview in early May.

Sink shot the massive buck with a compound bow at a mere 7 yards from his tree stand. The Preble County buck was shot just a half mile outside of Eaton, Ohio, in the southwest corner of the state.

Sink set up his stand for the first time on a small, 5-acre plot of woods that belongs to a family friend landowner.

“I had just gotten permission on it,” Sink said. “I had a trail camera on it and I was watching some other bucks (on the property). They all left, though, right when (bow) season opened.

“I saw this buck three times and shot him on the third (sighting),” he continued. “He was always hanging out along a small creek, a ditch really. It’s in a deep ravine, and all down in that ravine it is super thick. Thorns, bushes, honeysuckle, you couldn’t even really walk through there.”

The first two sightings of the big buck allowed Sink to pattern him a bit. The deer would always come in from the right, out of the ravine and either go out into an adjacent field or come toward Sink’s stand location.

“About a week before I shot him, he came running into the woods with two other smaller bucks,” Sink said. “I never got a shot at him, but I got a picture of him on my phone. He was behind a tree, though, so I couldn’t get a shot at him.”

A few days later, Sink actually did get a shot at a smaller, 8-point buck from the same tree stand, but he missed. Lucky, as it turns out.

“(The big buck) was with the 8-point when all of this happened and he watched all of that,” Sink said. “I actually got two shots at the 8-point and did the same thing both times. My bow had gotten twisted when I turned in the tree stand.”

The big buck never spooked, though, despite the commotion, and eventually meandered away, Sink said.

“I knew he was big,” he said. “I guessed him to be about a 160- or 170-class 10-point. I couldn’t see all of the different stickers on the bottom of his rack.”

The next week brought on the rut and all kinds of deer movement in the small, 5-acre parcel.

The same 8-pointer showed up again and after playing him for an hour or so, Sink heard a loud crash in the woodlot and again laid eyes on the big buck.

“I just thought, ‘There he is,’” he said.

Using his binoculars, Sink said the buck was about 150 yards away “and all I could see was white, so I thought he was running away from me.”

But, the buck was actually running toward Sink’s location in the tree. The buck worked in to about 35 yards while Sink watched him.

That was still too far for a good shot, Sink thought, remembering the previous fall when he missed another buck with his bow at about that distance. That deer, he said, “just completely ducked my arrow.”

The big buck eventually moved in to about 18 yards and turned broadside. The 8-point buck was still there, though, and he spooked at something, delaying the moment of truth for Sink.

“The big buck never paid any attention (to the 8-point, though),” he said. “He acted like he had no idea what was going on. He was completely vulnerable. It would’ve been a perfect shot if it wasn’t for the 8-point spooking.”

By this time, the 8-point had worked his way behind Sink’s stand. The big buck was still standing in the same spot.

“I just thought, ‘Here’s my chance,’” Sink said. “I don’t really know where the 8-point is but I could still hear him. I was afraid the (8-point) was looking at me, so I just said it’s now or never.”

At that point, the big buck had worked to a mere 7 yards from Sink’s stand at an angle that was almost vertical for the shot.

“I sent my arrow through him and I saw blood squirt out of him,” Sink said. “I really couldn’t tell how good of a shot it was at that angle, though. And, I never had any experience at this.”

The big buck ran about 50 yards, straight back into that thick ravine from which he came.

“He kind of stumbled, got back up and moved about another 15 yards and piled up,” Sink said.

“I could see his rack behind a honeysuckle bush because the rack is super wide. It just flashed through the woods.

“But, because I wasn’t sure of my shot, I wanted to give him some time,” he said. “I didn’t want to jump him too quickly.”

And, this is where the story gets truly interesting.

Several minutes later, a couple of does walked up to the downed buck followed by a coyote coming from a different trail.

A phone call to one of Sink’s buddies arranged a small search party that tracked the deer about an hour later.

By that time, it was dark and the search proved to be difficult, tracking the blood and all. Sink and his buddies did see a big coyote bolt out from the woodlot just before finding the big buck.

“When we got to it, we realized those coyotes had ripped open his stomach,” Sink said. “All the way up into the shoulder. They ate up his insides and ripped open his intestines.”

All of this had happened within an hour and a half. Luckily, there was enough of a cape left that taxidermist Rick Busse in Piqua was still able to produce a beautiful mount.

“My buddies were like, ‘Man, that is ridiculously big,’” Sink remembered them saying about the rack. “They’d never seen anything close to that big.”

As it turned out, Sink’s shot double-lunged the buck.

“I’ve only been hunting for three years,” he said. “No one in my family hunts. But, one of my friends hunted and I always thought that sounded like so much fun. I’ve always been kind of an outdoorsman, more than the rest of my family. I had shot a little button buck the year before with a rifle, but I had had some bad luck with my bow.”

Luck turned for Sink on this day.

“I don’t know what to say,” Sink summed. “I think (the big buck) had chosen that ravine for his bedroom and I was sitting right outside his bedroom.

“All of the times that I missed, I learned something,” he said. “So, I was just able to put it all together.”

Sink said it’s not all about the pursuit of trophies for him, though.

“I just love hunting,” he said. “I’ll probably never shoot anything bigger. Now, I can just be picky with the bucks I shoot.”

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