Hunting > Whitetails

Pat Sullivan’s Rifle Giant

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.

Pat Sullivan hit the woods on Nov. 22 with great anticipation. It was opening day of firearm season, and he knew at least one giant roamed the farm in southwest Wisconsin. In September, Sully and his buddies got two trail-camera images of a buck they believed might gross 175. And just eight days earlier in bow season, Sully had a nerve-racking 60-yard encounter with the monster.

That November morning Sully still-hunted up to a tower stand that overlooked a picked corn field. After six hours of creeping and glassing, he arrived at the post at 12:30 p.m. and settled in for the afternoon. He could see for miles in all directions, covering an endless sea of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land, alfalfa and picked corn. He watched a few parades of orange-clad hunters probing the woodlots and ravines far from his watchtower.

At 1 p.m. Sully caught movement 185 yards away. A deer was crossing the field, moving at a good clip. He picked up his binocular and immediately thought, Shooter! The buck was only 5 yards from disappearing into the woods. Sully shouldered his 7mm Mag. and mouth-bleated loudly. The buck stopped and he fired.

“I lost him in the scope and when I found him again he was running directly toward me,” Sully said. “I couldn’t believe I might have missed.”

With the buck at 75 yards and closing, Sully chambered another round. The deer heard it and skidded to a stop, quartering toward him; Sully sent another 139 grains of lead on its way.

“I saw this one connect, and a red spot appeared on his shoulder.”

But the buck kept running. He was full-tilt at 20 yards when Sully found him in the scope and fired again. “I watched in horror as the buck continued on a fast pace toward the neighbor’s fence line,” he said. Finally, he slowed to a walk and tipped over 100 yards from the property line.

Sully picked up the right beam with the forked G-2 and G-3, and knew right away this was the giant from the cam photos. He headed back to camp to gather his group for a photo session and some story telling. What a tremendous animal with character. The rack had a 211/8-inch inside spread and grossed 1796⁄8 B&C.

Sully’s Keys to Success:
While some mature bucks shift ranges from summer to fall/winter (they usually relocate in mid-September) more giants than you think stay home and live in the same core areas (maybe a few hundred acres) all season. If you find a shooter in September and see him again in late October or early November like Sully did, he’s living there. Hunt hard and smart until you get him.

Don’t fiddle with a call to stop a buck. Bleat or grunt with your voice, and do it loudly when a buck is 80 yards or farther away. Your call will not sound perfect, but it will work. When the buck stops, have your crosshairs on him and shoot.
If you get a second or even a third shot at a big deer, take it so he won’t get away, or run onto the next property. But be safe. Know your target, aim carefully and make sure you have a clear line of fire.

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