On Saturday, November 5th at 4:30 in the afternoon, a Wisconsin bowhunter named Bobby Pagel shot a long buck buck that had been relentlessly chasing him since mid-October. A small business owner in Eu Claire County, 31-year-old Pagel says he “left his job in the dust and mostly lived in the woods” in his quest to tag the once-in-a-lifetime whitetail. With the help of his girlfriend, he set up cellphone footage to identify the buck’s 1,000-foot home range, plotted his daily patterns on a calendar, and finally got his hands on his perfectly symmetrical 10-point rack after the deer came sailing. in from about 200 meters away to investigate a group made milling around from his tree stand.
“I first knew he existed when I found one of his sheds this spring,” Pagel tells F&S. “My father is a hemp farmer up here [in Eu Claire County], and I found it in one of his hemp fields that also has a lot of clover growing in it. “When I found that shed, I said to myself, ‘I have to do everything I can to get on this deer.'”
Pagel didn’t set his sights on the Big Ten until Oct. 16. “He crossed the road right in front of me in our field when I was leaving the farm,” he says. “When I realized he was alive, and definitely hanging around our area, I threw out a whole bunch of cell phones and started putting a bead on him.”
The deer appeared in one of his cameras on October 17th, then again on the 18th and once the next day. “I shot on the 20th, and he walked by me at 38 yards, but it was very dark and after legal shooting hours,” he says. “All I could see through my binos was a giant white shelf. I knew it was him.”
Not wanting to scare the old bucks and ruin his chances for a future bump, Pagel stayed in the stands well after dark before crawling home for the night. He continued to sit all day for the next four days, but the sum of his dreams was a no-show. Then, on Oct. 24, around 8:40 p.m., the deer reappeared on one of Pagel’s mobile trail cameras that he had set up at the edge of a grassy field.
“On October 30, I had my first meeting with him during legal shooting hours,” says Pagel. “He came in at 9:40 in the morning chasing a deer. He was about 65 yards away tracking that doe and didn’t stop. I growled, but he didn’t have a care in the world that I was there. He had one thing on his mind, and that was to chase that doe.”
By then, the wreck was in full swing in northern Wisconsin, and Pagel continued to hunt daily with unwavering persistence. “I knew two or three of my neighbors had this deer on camera and were shooting it, too,” he says. “One of my neighbors actually saw it on Thursday, November 3, but couldn’t take it over. Two days later, he came to me again.”
The morning of November 5th brought a temperature drop of 18 degrees and steady rain for a day. Knowing that the dramatic cold front would get the deer up and moving during the daylight hours, Pagel dove into the stand for another all-day stand with an umbrella bolted to the tree right above his head.
A few hours before dark, the deer was back and making its way to the bowstring. “I had consistent moves all day and had a nice 8-pointer with G2 split, but I had to pass because I knew this monster was still out there,” says Pagel. “About 4:30 in the afternoon, I looked up and he came from about 200 meters away – sailing by himself. I had some smaller bucks and a pile made behind me, and I think he was coming in to investigate them.”
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The statement passed in front of Pagel at 30 meters. “When I shot, I went to snort and stop it,” he says. “He actually took another step and I hit him again in his femoral artery. The largest part of the femoral artery is located in the back of the deer and moves a large amount of blood through the circulatory system. While it wasn’t the kind of blow Pagel was hoping for that day, it’s an incredibly lethal wound, especially when administered by the broadhead.
“I was pretty sure I heard it pile up about 70 or 80 yards behind me in the thick stuff,” he says. “I let it sit for an hour or so. I didn’t want to push any money of that caliber.”
When he finally got his hands on the dollar rack, Pagel was overcome with a flood of emotion. “I immediately called my dad,” he says. “He could barely understand what I was saying because I was crying so much and so happy. Somehow I managed to tell him that I got the money.”
Pagel unofficially scored the deer at 192 inches B&C. He says his taxidermist believes the monster could become the next Eu Clair County record for a typical mainframe taken in a vertical arc. “I’m so grateful to the guys I work with for letting me live in the woods for the last month and to my girlfriend Ashley for all her help,” he says. “I’ve always dreamed of shooting a world-class whitetail like this.”