By Dieter Herbert
In 2019 a trail camera card pull first revealed this giant buck working a mock scrape I had set up mid October. Right away I knew he was a special deer. He had a tremendous frame and I figured him to be a 180” plus buck. We nicknamed him "Split G4". He came through the spot I was hunting on camera one or two times a week that year, but it was always at night and I knew he must not be bedding in the piece during daylight. My brother and I spent hundreds of hours driving around scouting and trying to locate this bucks core area. We eventually figured out where he was through word of mouth; but he was in an area where we wouldn’t be able to hunt him.
A friend of a good friend of mine sent me a picture of a shed antler later that winter and I immediately recognized that it was "Split G4’s" shed. (A shed that he so graciously later gifted me). That shed scored 91. That’s when I truly realized that this was a world class buck. But, as you would guess there were plenty of other guys with their sights set on hunting this deer and with quite a few pictures of him in circulation it was for good reason.
Fast forward to the summer of 2020. I went back to the spot where I had my camera the year before. I knew if I was going to kill this buck I was going to have to catch him in this super thick property close to the rut and with the perfect weather conditions.
I built myself a blind in the thick brush as there weren’t any trees to hunt that would work with the wind I knew I would need. I built the exact same mock scrape that had been there the year before with rope and vines and set up my trail camera.
Fast forward to Halloween 10/31/2020...
The weather system we had this year on Halloween was absolutely magical. The timing of this high pressure cold front was impeccable and I was planning on doing an all day sit for a big 150 class buck I had messed up on a couple weeks prior. I hunted there in the morning and it was a pretty slow sit. I decided to get down around 11 am and check a few cameras. The first camera I checked was the camera on the mock scrape where "Split G4" had been the year prior. I shuffled through the pictures and... BAM!... There he was that morning an hour before first light tearing up the scrape. I knew he certainly had to be bedded close by and I snuck out of there.
I grabbed all my gear and got set up to hunt the rest of the day. After being in the blind for about a half an hour a doe hooked downwind of me and picked up on my scent. She made an absolute scene over it for like 45 minutes. My heart sank. I thought for sure the big buck, which I knew was close by, had heard what was going on and surely wouldn’t head over in that direction.
Well, as she was having an absolute fit I heard a deer coming through the thick brush. I saw a flash of tines through a little window and recognized that it was a nice 9 pointer that I had been getting pretty regularly on that scrape camera. He worked his way in to about 10 yards of my blind trying to figure out just what this doe was going on about. I decided once he came in that close that he looked like a buck I wanted to try and take.
I knew there was no way I was going to be able to draw my bow back with this doe absolutely fixed on my hiding spot. I sat without moving for what felt like an eternity and eventually the doe began to walk away, as the buck went to follow her I drew back my bow and stood up in the blind. He was about 17 yards quartering away hard when I touched off the release. He kicked ran about 20 yards and toppled over.
I was ecstatic I had been hunting hard all year and I tend to put myself under a ton of pressure to fill my buck tags each year. That moment took a ton of weight off my shoulders. I made a few calls quietly in my blind still aware that the bigger buck could still be close by. I was on the phone with my brother whispering telling him what had just transpired when I heard what sounded like antlers hitting branches not too far away. I told him, "I think the big one is coming." then hung up the phone.
Over the next few minutes I could hear the deer working a licking branch behind me through the thick cover. When he finished it sounded like he began to make his way off in the opposite direction of my blind. I waited for a pause in the wind. Faced away from him, I hit my grunt call twice just loud enough that I knew he'd hear it. It sounded like he immediately pivoted and started working his way back toward me. The combination of thick cover and tall grass made it impossible to see him coming my way.
He slowly started to hook around me in an effort to get the wind in his favor. I knew he wasn’t going to be able to get my wind without first coming through my shooting lane. I was on my knees in the blind facing where I expected him to pop out. I knew he had to be within 15 yards of me through the grass. I decided I needed to take a look so I pulled my face mask tight around my eyes and slowly propped myself up. I saw the tips of his antlers and dropped back down to my knees immediately.
It was him, "Split G4"! He took a few more steps and broke cover. He was now standing broadside in my shooting lane inside of ten yards. I waited until he turned his head away from me and drew my bow, stood up, put it behind the shoulder... and let it fly. He took off, plowing down small saplings sounding like a bulldozer moving through the woods. Then it went completely silent. I knew that he had just crashed.
I called my brother and I’m not even sure what came out of my mouth, but I managed to get out that I had just smoked "Split G4" and he was down. I waited a a little while until I was almost out of daylight and decided I was going to get my arrow and then take up the blood trail. As soon as I got within five feet of the arrow, what I thought I saw and heard after the shot was confirmed.
The blood had sprayed on the vines and the nearby trees. I slowly walked down the blood trail and there he was, not 30 yards away, the deer of a lifetime. It’s a moment I will never forget. Walking up on that buck knowing the hours and time put in. I eat sleep and breathe whitetail deer and I had just shot a deer beyond what I dreamt I could one day do. Tons of friends and family stopped by the next day to get their hands on this giant deer. He dressed out at 227 pounds. After the 60 day drying period was up I got in touch with a couple scorers who came by my house and scored the buck together.
Herbert's Suffolk County buck grossed 197 4/8 and netted 191 3/8. The buck will be panel scored by the New York State Big Buck Club and could be the new Typical Archery Record.
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