Bowhunter Tags Monster Minnesota Buck

If you have to manage a large property to consistently raise mature whitetails, just try telling that to Chad Garteski, who arrowed a 184-inch monster on a 100-acre tract in southeastern Minnesota on September 18th. The grave statement was one Garteski knew well. “He was just a regular, not only on that farm, but in a certain corner that other mature bucks frequent,” he told F&S. “I was definitely excited when he showed up, but not surprised.”

picture of the buck hunter
Garteski’s son was loyal to a small nuclear area and was a regular on the hunter’s trail cameras. Joe Brown

The boy was one Garteski, an expert whitetail hunter who owns Weiss Realty and sells hunting properties for a living, had targeted the year before. “There was some good money using that farm, but that money was special to me. I called him the “Jam-4” buck because he had jammed his G4 into something in the velvet and had an acorn at the end of that point. Between that and his frame, he was hard to mistake for any other deer.”

A close call in 2021

After a summer filled with trail camera photos, Weiss nearly tagged it on the morning of Nov. 1, 2021. “I saw it walking across a field about 200 yards away and hit the honking horns,” he recalled. “He lit a coin and walked in, then stopped to rub a tree about 30 meters away. I could see that if he stepped on one side of the tree, I would have a good shot, but if he went the other way, he would probably knock me back. Well, he went the wrong way and stiffened it across the field; he knew something was wrong. I was afraid he was really scared, but I got a picture of him on a trail camera early that afternoon.”

Garteski shot another big buck that fall, a heavy buck he won in the 150s, and he was later relieved when trail camera photos revealed the Jam-4 buck had survived the hunting seasons. “I had a lot of winter feed — corn, soybeans and brassicas — on the farm, so I was pulling deer and taking a lot of pictures of it. Finally in February, I had photos of a shed buck that I was sure was him. I went out on February 14th and found both sides, lying only 15 meters apart. They measured 73 inches each, and they still had blood on the bases, so he had drained them within the last day.”

Photo.  of shed horns
Garteski found both sides of the sheds just a few feet apart last February. Chad Gartesky

One and done on day 2

As the summer of 2022 progressed, the Jam-4 buck returned to his favorite area on Garteski’s farm. “I actually think he was kind of conditioned to me,” Garteski laughed. “I’d go to that place to mow, or check a camera, and within an hour or two of me leaving, he’d be in front of the camera, in broad daylight. So he obviously lived somewhere nearby. I was very excited about my chances for opening archery.”

Photo of the big buck trail camera
Garteski had numerous pictures of bucks as the season approached, this one on August 26. Chad Gartesky
photo of the dollar trail camera
A daylight shot in late August. Chad Gartesky

Sunday September 18th was the second day of the archery season. While the temperatures were quite warm, Garteski had the perfect wind for a setup where he thought the Jam-4 buck might show up. “This stand is near what I call a ‘pocket plot’ of clover and chicory next to the forest,” he said. “There is also good shooting in a tight pond with the timber. Bucks like to hit that spot on their way to bigger ag fields, and most of my Jam-4 prize photos came from a camera there.”

As the evening wore on, Garteski realized that the warm temperatures were probably suppressing the deer’s overall movement. As it turned out, he only saw one deer, but it was the right one. “About prime time I could hear a deer moving,” Garteski said. “When I finally saw the buck I knew it was Jam-4, but he looked weird and then I realized he had pieces of velvet hanging and twisted around his rack. He disappeared into the brush for a while, but I could still hear him there. Finally he stepped onto the dam of the pond and shook his head back and forth. With that velvet hanging back and forth, it was quite an amazing sight.”

picture of the hunter and the buck
Garteski’s statement had pieces of velvet hanging on its shelf. Joe Brown

Finally, the buck entered the pond to drink, and Garteski had a perfect 40-yard opportunity. “I settled in and picked a spot, then hit it,” he said. “I knew the buck was in trouble right away and I was pretty sure I heard it crash. I texted my friend Joe Braun to see if he could come help me and he said he was on his way. When Joe got there we had a short track job; The buck had only gone 70 yards and died just 50 yards from where I had found his hides in February.”

picture of the buck hunter
One last look at Garteski’s big bucks. Joe Brown

While one side of the Jam-4 rack had lost a bit of strip length from a year ago, the swap more than made up for it by packing on the bulk. “He was 4¾ inches at the base, but 6½ at the other girth,” Garteski said. “His longest lengths were over 11 inches, a main beam was 28-½ inches long, and we came up with an approximate gross of 184 and change. To be honest, I didn’t do the best job of scoring it , because I wanted the taxidermist to keep all the velvet still on him, and I didn’t want to mess this up; he was hanging in some places and almost wrapped around his planes and beams in others. I sent the picture to some friends, who thought that it was barbed wire wrapped around him. He’s a pretty incredible buck and I couldn’t be happier.”

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