Tom Miller of Port Washington has taken a lot of nice deer in his 40-plus years of hunting whitetails.
But even the 160-inchers pale in comparison to the one he took one week ago.
Miller arrowed a monster 19-pointer that gross green-scored a whopping 2081/4 inches.
"I think the first time my dad took me I was 10 and I’m 58 now," said Miller. "I never dreamed I would kill anything like this in the wild."
Unlike many huge deer – where hunters dump corn year-round and use trail cameras to track the animal’s every move – this was the first time Miller ever laid eyes on the beast.
"All the guys who hunt this place have been busy and we really haven’t been running any cameras or anything," he said.
And believe it or not Miller credited a "Wired to Hunt" podcast with giving him a tip that he thinks helped lure in the giant.
"They had a couple Georgia hunters on and they said they got more pictures of big bucks in their area using mock scrapes than they did using corn piles or anything else," Miller said.
"I’ve had good luck with Tink’s products over the years so I decided to try their scrape maker (Power Scrape). I went out and make three mock scrapes in an area where I usually see some bucks. I hung a stand and left.
"I went back a week later and that one scrape was beat to death – even the licking branch was broken off. I got in the stand and before long a doe came through. She was only about 5 or 6 yards from the scrape. She had her nose up smelling it but then she walked off. I ranged her at 32 yards on a trail that comes from a bedding area.
"About an hour later he came through. He got within 5 or 6 yards of the scrape with his nose up smelling then he walked down the same trail. I shot him at 5:59 p.m. with a lighted nock and watched the arrow go through him. I felt good about the shot."
No nerves or anything?
"Once I saw how big he was I quit looking at the rack, I just focused on where I was going to shoot him and let him happen. After the shot I started shaking. I tried to text my buddy but I typed ‘hittt hoggg’" he joked. "I tried to climb out of the tree with my harness still attached to it. I couldn’t figure out what was pulling at me."
Eventually he called his friend and they waited a couple hours before beginning their track. It turns out the deer only went about 60 yards before piling up.
As a lifelong hunter Miller is convinced the mock scrape helped lure in the brute.
"We know where the deer bed on the property but I haven’t seen a lot of big bucks in the corner where I hunt," he said. "I think the smell of that scrape helped bring him out."
Even in this day of feeding, using nutrients and high-tech cameras I’m not aware of many 200-inch deer being taken in Tuscarawas County.
"There are some big deer on this property," said Miller. "The land owner calls one ‘The Hartford Deer.’ But it wasn’t like I put in a lot of time hunting this deer. I was just blessed on that day."
What a blessing it was.