A Near 200-Inch Bruiser with a Crossbow

Big Game,White-Tailed Deer


A Near 200-Inch Bruiser with a Crossbow

Posted 2017-11-01T13:59:00Z  by  Brian Strickland

Have You Seen a Buck This Big?

Rack Report Details
Buck:198 5/8 Inches
Time of Year:September 30, 2017
Place:Southern Ohio
Weapon: Crossbow  Bowhunting, Crossbow 

Everything came together after several tough breaks for Alex. (Alex Bowling photo)

After nearly 10 years, Alex Bowling was beginning to wonder if it was ever going to happen again. At age 15 he killed his first whitetail buck in his home state of Kentucky, and although he had killed numerous does since then, the right buck just hadn't walked into bow range. He readily admitted that he has had some opportunities at average bucks over the years, but this 24-year-old plumber was holding out for something special. Little did he know that 200 inches of heavy head gear would be that something special this season.

If you were to ask Alex, he would say that he should have never killed this buck. It seemed anything that could go wrong, did, and it all started the previous season.

About a week before the 2016 opener, he had hand surgery and was unable to use his Hoyt compound bow. Still wanting to hunt the 400-acre farm he had access to in Ohio, he decided to use a friend's 10-Point crossbow. Never using one before, Alex was a little uneasy. Making matters worse, because of his hand injury, he was even unable to cock the crossbow back; so he relied on someone else to do it for him when he headed out to hunt in early November.

A trail camera photo of the giant Ohio buck. (Alex Bowling photo)With the rut beginning to kick into gear, optimism was running high when Alex climbed into his treestand. Activity was good that November day, and got even better when Alex caught a glimpse of a 160-inch 10-point cruising through the woodlot. A couple of well-timed grunts got the buck's attention and Alex knew the opportunity he had been waiting for all these years was about to materialize.

Time seems to stand still in moments like this, and when the buck finally came into his 20-yard shooting lane, Alex steadied his aim and gently began squeezing the trigger … but nothing happened. Frantically he pulled the trigger again with the same results. He later realized the crossbow was not completely cocked into position enabling it to fire. All he could do was helplessly watch the buck walk out of his life. He was so sick by the whole encounter that he didn't deer hunt the rest of the season.

As Alex prepared for the 2017 season, last year's Murphy mishap was still in the back of his mind. However, when he started getting trail camera photos of the same buck that walked out of his life just months before — that now had an additional 40 inches of bone riding on top of his head — Alex was hopeful the buck would walk back into it during the Ohio opener.

As Alex prepared by shooting his bow, he noticed an inconsistent pattern developing in his accuracy due to his recurring hand issue. One day, he was spot-on and the next his arrows seemed to be floating. Knowing the caliber of buck he was after, he decided to purchase his own crossbow a couple of days before the season.

With too much to do and not enough hours in the day, Alex hadn't even shot his crossbow before he headed to the farm for the weekend opener. In fact, it wasn't until the afternoon of opening day that he fired the first bolt. Making matters worse, of the three bolts he had, he lost two of them while sighting it in. He also realized during this time that he forgot his broadheads, as well as his hunting boots, Scentlok clothing and scent-eliminating spray. Needless to say, the opener wasn't starting off in the right direction and all Alex could think about was how his last hunt on the farm ended the previous season.

With only a single bolt and a borrowed broadhead, Alex was a nervous wreck as he headed to his climber for the evening hunt. His nerves were so shot that he even made a wrong turn as he was going in. However, after climbing nearly 25 feet up in his climber, he settled down as the evening shadows began to lengthen.

I suppose some things are just meant to be, and when the seven o'clock hour settled in on the field edge Alex was hunting, it became eerily quiet.

It was so quiet, all I could hear was my ears ringing, Alex said, and right at 7:05 p.m., he stepped out at 40 yards.

Losing the two bolts while shooting at longer distances, Alex knew he had to wait until the buck was at least 20 yards away before he would shoot, and when the buck stepped into that magical window, Alex let the bolt fly.

It sounded like an airplane landing in the woods as he ran off, Alex said. And when he heard the buck hit the ground just seconds later, he knew his quest was complete.

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