Hunting > Whitetails

Joshua Miller’s Nature Park Monster

These monster bucks weren’t killed on private ranches by high-paying clients, but by hard-hunting blue-collar guys who’ve learned to hunt.

Joshua Miller from Wayne County, Ohio, was selected to participate in a 2008 special youth hunt to help manage the deer herd in Johnson Woods nature preserve. “I had my mind set on harvesting the buck-of-a-lifetime,” said the exuberant 16-year-old.

Josh and his dad hit the woods at 7 a.m. It was a good day to hunt, cold with snow. They saw a couple of does early, but Josh decided to wait for a buck. They saw more does throughout the day, but still no racks. The hunters found one last good-looking spot and decided to hunt there until dark.

Josh was soaking wet from hunting all day in the snow. “Dad asked if I wanted to walk around and warm up, but I said no,” the kid said.

They hung tough and saw 13 more does. Then Josh spotted movement in some brush about 150 yards away. “I watched it for an hour and figured I was just imagining things,” he said, “but finally I saw the antlers of a bedded buck!”

It was getting dark, and Dad came up with a plan to stalk the buck. They crept slowly, and when they were about 60 yards away Josh spotted massive tines. Dad told him to get ready. They took three more steps and the buck jumped up.

“My fingers were so numb I could barely take the safety off,” Josh said.

He fired two shots—one missed, and the other hit the deer a little back. Josh had one shot left, and he knew he had to make it count. He steadied his shotgun against a tree and dropped the giant. 

“I was shaking so badly I could hardly reload my gun,” Josh said.

They walked up to the buck and couldn’t believe it. The 18-pointer had a 28-inch spread and a third beam. It grossed 200 and netted 192 under the Ohio Big Bucks scoring system.

“My dad and I were so happy,” Joshua said. “I gave him a huge hug and thanked him for taking me hunting.”

Josh’s Keys to Success:
Every year some huge bucks are killed during controlled management hunts on state parks and preserves, so look for those opportunities for you or, better, your kid. He or she might draw a permit and shoot a doe—or a “ginormous” buck like Josh’s when and where you least expect it.

You’ve got one day to hunt, it’s getting dark and you spot a buck … . Don’t just sit there, try a last-ditch stalk. You have nothing to lose and a lot to possibly gain. Good call, Dad!

Your heart will pound and your hands will tremble if you ever get so lucky to see a 200-class buck—and doubly so if you miss him. Keep your cool like the 16-year-old did and make that last bullet or slug count. Great job, Josh. ah

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