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White-Tailed Deer



Posted 2023-11-22  by  Michael Pendley

A chance encounter lead Preston Burger and his dad, Bryan, to the opportunity of a lifetime during the Missouri youth season

Rack Report Details
Buck:230 ⅝
Time of Year:October 28, 2023
Place:Mississippi County Missouri
Weapon: Browning X Bolt 28 Nosler 

For 14-year-old Missouri hunter Preston Burger, being outdoors is life. He’s been going hunting with his dad, Bryan, since he was 4 years old. He took his first buck when he was 6, and he’sbeen stacking up deer in two states every season since.

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A single chance encounter with this buck by his dad was all it took for Preston to know he wanted to hunt this particular buck this season.

This year, Preston had a ghost of a buck in his sights. His dad had been harvesting corn in late September or very early October when he saw a deer jump up in front of his combine. It was a giant buck. “The buck jumped up, ran 50 or 60 yards, then stopped to look back. The corn rows were 30 inches apart, and when that deer turned its head, the antlers moved the corn in both rows. All I could think was that this was the biggest buck I’d ever seen,” Bryan said.

He went home and immediately told his deer-obsessed son about the sighting. They decided to hang cameras in the area in hopes that they could get a photo of the buck, but they never did. And they never saw the deer again.

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The buck’s long tines, incredibly wide frame, kicker points and drop tines made it a target for several hunters in the area.

But none of that meant the buck wasn’t still in the area. Other local hunters had seen it as well, and word of the giant quickly spread. New stands began to pop up on neighboring properties.

In the week leading up to the Missouri youth season, Preston and his grandfather moved a mobile shooting house to near the area where Bryan had seen the buck. “It was about 200 yards from the tree line and cover, and there were some really nice trails coming out nearby,” Preston said. “I felt really good about the spot.”

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Preston has been hunting with his dad, Bryan, since he was 4 years old.

On the Saturday opener of the Missouri youth season, Preston and his dad were in the blind. Preston had his new rifle, a Browning X Bolt in 28 Nosler, ready to go. He’d gotten it for Christmas last year and this was its first deer hunt. A friend had hand-loaded some custom 143-grain rounds for Preston. The combination was accurate and fun to shoot.

Opening morning dawned rainy and gray. Without any trail cam photos or additional sightings, Bryan was worried that the big buck might no longer be in the area. The morning was a good one for deer movement. The pair saw 10 antlered bucks and several does, but not the big buck Preston was after. Preston did see a big bodied deer just inside the tree line that morning, but never saw its head and it never stepped into the open; it just appeared for a few seconds then turned and disappeared back into the cover.

At midday, father and son ran home for lunch. “I was leaning toward heading to another property nearby that we hunt for that afternoon. I knew there were some good bucks on it and I just didn’t have a ton of faith that the big buck would show back up,” Bryan said.

Preston thought otherwise. “I told Dad I wanted to go back. I just had a gut feeling that the big buck would show,” he added.

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A gut feeling told Preston that they needed to return to the area they had hunted that morning.

They headed back to the same box blind they had been in that morning. There was still light rain in the area with the promise of heavy rain to come later that night. Preston and Bryan settled in for the evening.


Soon, a group of four or five young bucks entered the field and began to feed. As Preston watched, another deer stepped out. Like his dad before, it was the biggest buck Preston had ever seen. “The deer was in range, but I couldn’t shoot because the young bucks went to him and started walking circles around him. It was almost like they were protecting him,” Preston laughed.

The big buck soon tired of the attention and aggressively lowered his antlers at the younger bucks. They cleared out and Preston finally had an open shot.

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At the shot, the buck ran a short distance then plowed into the cut cornfield in sight of Preston and Bryan.

“The buck was 220-250 yards away, I knew the rifle would do its job at that range if Preston could make the shot,” Bryan said. Preston was understandably worked up. “I had to flip my safety off, then back on, three times before I settled down enough to squeeze the trigger,” Preston said.

At the shot, the giant buck mule kicked nearly five feet into the air, then bolted just a few yards before plowing into the picked cornfield. Both father and son could see the rack, including the double drop tines, and both knew Preston had just taken the buck of a lifetime.


The rack was a massive 6x7 with a 26” outside spread, two drop tines, and a split brow. Once the taxidermist put a tape to him, he came up with a massive score of 230 ⅝ non-typical and 191 as a typical.

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The buck featured matching drop tines on each side.

“Preston has already taken several bucks over the years, including a really nice one with a crossbow last year that we didn’t find for a couple months. Not finding that deer right away kind of stuck with him all year. I kind of think getting this buck was a little redemption for him,” Bryan said.

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