LEROY – Few times in life – at least in the experience of Ryan Hitsman – things go exactly as planned.
One such fortuitous event recently occurred for the 29-year-old Grand Haven resident, who was visiting his grandparents in the LeRoy area in late October when a neighbor stopped by and the invited to look at some photos he took on his track. camera.
This is the first time he has seen the deer – a huge buck with a rack of “non-typical” antlers of seven points on the left side and four on the right.
âIt was the money of a lifetime,â Hitsman said. âNever seen here, especially in freedom.
Seeing the animal on the surveillance camera, Hitsman wasted no time in identifying a swampy area on his grandparents’ property where he believed the deer had traveled. This is where he installed his 12 foot ladder bracket.
A longtime hunter who spent a lot of time in the woods of Osceola and Lake counties, Hitsman said his grandparents had hoped for many years that he would be able to raise money on their property. of 40 acres off 16 Mile Road.
Hunting day, October 31, was the last day of daylight saving time, which meant there was an extra hour of sunshine in the morning, allowing Hitsman to position himself early enough in the tree. .
Before leaving that day, Hitsman said he washed his clothes and took an odor-proof shower to remove as much human odor from him as possible. He also refrained from smoking cigarettes for hours before the hunt (anyone who smokes can attest to how much of a sacrifice it is).
âI did everything I was supposed to do,â Hitsman said.
At around 8:10 am, Hitsman heard what appeared to him to be “thrown trees” – it was the deer, periodically scratching its antlers off trunks as it meandered towards it.
Hitsman noticed that the deer seemed to have a problem in its gait; he later learned that one of his hind hooves was partially curved, which may have caused the non-typical rack formation.
As the deer neared, Hitsman said he hoped he would turn sideways to allow a clear shot. Instead, the animal headed straight for the tree and Hitsman.
During previous hunts, Hitsman said that whenever he saw a male of this size, “male fever” would set in.
âI was generally shaking profusely,â Hitsman said. “But this time the sportsman in me got the upper hand.”
Hitsman waited with Zen-like concentration for the animal to present a clear shot, but continued straight towards it and finally directly under the support.
Fearing that he would not have the opportunity to shoot, Hitsman made a decision: as the deer passed under the support, he removed the string from his bow and let go, sending a broad-tipped arrow between the animal’s shoulder blades. and in his lungs.
The deer jumped up and ran about 20 yards before Hitsman noticed his paws give way. Within 20 meters, he had collapsed.
Knowing that it was the deer he had seen on the surveillance camera, Hitsman forced himself to stay in the booth for another 30 minutes to settle down before descending.
âI was shaking so much that I couldn’t even text my phone,â Hitsman said.
When he finally got down from the tree and approached the deer, he could no longer contain his excitement and joy.
âI kept screaming, ‘I did it! I did it! I did it!’,â Hitsman said.
Although he could not find a scale on the day of his hunt, Hitsman estimated the animal to weigh between 240 and 250 pounds.
âI couldn’t walk 10 yards without being out of breath,â Hitsman said.
When he arrived at his grandparents’ house, Hitsman played cool.
âMy grandfather said, ‘I know you’ve got something, you’re never done so soon,’â Hitsman said. “I said, ‘do you want to call the neighbor? My grandfather asked me why? I replied, “I got it.” My grandfather started to shake and say âNo! My grandmother came out and started screaming ‘Did you get it ?!’ Everyone was so excited … It was amazing. “
Hitsman, his grandparents, and the neighbor all named the deer with their own nicknames: Megatron, Mammoth, Junkyard, and High Tower.
On November 13, Hitsman took the deer to the meat processor; today he has about 100 pounds of game, which he plans to turn into steak, roast and jerky.
As for the rest of the animal, Hitsman will spend a bit more to make it a posed pedestal mount.
When the taxidermist measured the antlers, he gave it an approximate score of 149 inches (according to Boon and Crockett Club, the non-typical all-time record book minimum entry score is 120, which usually means around three or four abnormal dots on the shelf).
Chad Stewart, a deer, elk and moose management specialist at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said there are several reasons why deer could develop lopsided spikes or an antler pattern.
âOne is that it could just be inherited, with genetics playing an important role in the configuration of antlers,â said Stewart. âThe other causes result from injury. One type of injury that could alter the configurations of the antlers is during the growing period when the antlers are in pile. Injury to the antler while it is still growing can cause patterns. growth patterns that cause asymmetric configurations. Another reason why growth patterns differ is a previous history, usually resulting from a leg injury (especially rear leg). “