Jim Hennons Prairie View Buck
Webster defines the word as the power supposed to determine the outcome of events. Sometimes in deer hunting, fate plays a dynamic role. Such was the case with 31-year-old Jim Hennon of New Hampshire, Ohio.
Jim has been hunting for 21 years. Early in life, squirrel hunting with dad was an annual occurrence each autumn. As time went on, Jim’s desires turned to hunting deer, and he took up the sport as soon as he was able to hunt safely and effectively with a shotgun and rifled slug. (Shotguns with slugs and muzzeloaders are the only firearms legal for deer hunting in Ohio.)
In this upper Midwestern section of Ohio, most of the terrain consists of agricultural flatlands with scattered 5-20-acre woods with bushy fence rows and a few thickets strewn throughout the landscape. Most of the locals refer to this flat ground as “The Prairie.” Not exactly a place where one would figure to find gargantuan whitetails. Along with the sparse habitat, the hunting pressure on the deer in the area can sometimes be overwhelming, but as many die-hard trophy hunters know, big bucks always have a way of eluding the armies of hunters that pursue them every year.
During the 1994 bow hunting season, Jim was hunting one of his favorite spots and watched a huge buck at a distance of only 30 yards. But as “fate” would have it, no clear shot presented itself and Jim could only watch as the buck faded into the bush, not to be seen until a couple of weeks later when a friend connected on the giant with a perfect double lung shot. That monster 12-pointer with 11-inch brow tines dressed out at over 240 pounds. The deer scored in the upper 150s in the BTR Perfect category.
A popular hunting strategy in this section of the country is driving deer toward waiting hunters. Some hunting parties may have up to 12 or more in a group, covering a large area of private property. Due to his job, Jim had only a short time to deer hunt during the week long season. “Usually I would get in the woods around 4:00 p.m. and would only get to hunt about an hour,” Jim reported. On the third day of the season, Jim had an opportunity at a decent 8-pointer. Spotting the buck at 200 yards, he tried to sneak into position for a closer shot. As the wind shifted and swirled, the buck evidently caught human scent and headed for grounds unknown. The best Jim could do was a hurried running shot at 80 yards with his shotgun which resulted in a clear miss. A little depressed, Jim returned home that evening to his wife, two young daughters and a new baby son, who was born only three weeks earlier. Jim confided with his wife, Jodi, that maybe that wall hanger was just not meant to be this year.
Meanwhile, Jim heard of another big buck taken off “The Prairie” earlier that week-another big 12-pointer. He managed to get that Friday off from work. Jim had arranged to be part of a deer drive that consisted of eight other hunters. He was fortunate to be chosen to be a “sitter” and would be watching over a large area of “The Prairie.” Strangely enough, only a few hundred yards off was a golf course, which the party of hunters had permission to hunt around. Next to the golf course was a small wooded lot, only a couple of acres in size, but an area in which a buck could hide and not be detected. After scanning the terrain, Jim heard some shooting on the other side of the small woodlot. He could see another “sitter” leaving his location and heading away from his assigned position. This apparently was a big mistake for that unfortunate hunter because what Jim saw would give even the most seasoned hunter the shakes-four or five does followed by an unbelievable buck with hanging tines on his right beam. Though only seeing his one side, Jim knew this was a monster. “If the other hunter hadn’t left his location he could have had an easy 20-yard shot at the buck,” Jim said. But as fate would have it, he left for some unknown reason.
Watching the group of deer at over 200 yards, Jim could not do much but wait it out and hope that they would come his way. Suddenly, several shots rang out and the group of deer headed toward the golf course and the small woodlot. Jim thought he’d better get to the other side of the woods which would put the wind in his favor and offer much better concealment. Quickly getting into position, he noticed that off to his left, only about 30 yards away, was the 7th green of the local golf course. With his heart racing, Jim patiently waited for the group of deer to show. Suddenly the lead doe appeared. “She was really big and I was tempted to shoot,” Jim remembers. But he knew this would probably be his last chance at the big buck with the half rack. With all the hunters in the area the buck would surely cross paths with someone.
Jim was nestled against a big Sycamore tree with his gun resting in a Y-shaped branch five feet high. With the wind just right and the cover perfect, the deer never had a clue he was there. Moments later, the monster buck emerged at only 30 yards. “The buck walked right in my sights and all I had to do was pull the trigger.” And pull the trigger he did. The huge whitetail collapsed. “All I could see was the right side. I thought it was a half rack. It wasn’t until I walked up to the deer that I realized he had some antler on his left side, too!” said Jim.
He was soon surrounded by members of the rest of the high-fiving, back-slapping, hunting party.
Later that morning Jim returned home and walked through the door and asked his wife Jodi if they had hit the lottery. She immediately knew Jim had scored with a beauty. Jim also telephoned his father and told him he got a nice buck. His father asked, “How many points?” Jim replied “Twenty on one side.” His dad was out the door before he could hear the dial tone.
The giant buck was hung from a tree in the front yard around 1:30 p.m. Jim didn’t get to bed until 11:30 that night. “There must have been a thousand people just stopping by and looking at the rack,” Jim said.
Unique might be one word to describe the antler characteristics of this buck. Scoring the deer for BTR was also quite a chore. The right side is a mass of antler that could easily qualify as world class, with 17 scoreable points. The numbers add up fast. It is rare in that it produced a 2 3/8-inch P6 on the typical frame. Along with the irregular points added to the total of regular points on the right side, the total is an unbelievable 134 1/4 points. (That would be a respectable buck on its own.) Add the strange growth of antler on the left side of 70 5/8 you come up with a total of 204 6/8 in the BTR’s irregular antler classification. If the left side would have resembled the right in any way, Jim might have had a top five record on his hands.
Why the buck grew his antlers in this fashion is certainly up for debate. The deer field-dressed at 180 pounds and appeared to be in his prime with no physical injury apparent.
“I hung the mounted deer head above my television,” Jim said “When I turn the TV on, I find myself watching my buck more than the TV.” Who wouldn’t, Jim, who wouldn’t?