I apologize in advance for a long write up and pic heavy thread. I included the hunting story below for those interested in reading, otherwise, skip down to the last paragraph for preliminary score.
After a poor quality 2015 deer season on our 96 acre Atoka, Oklahoma property, I was just hopeful that I would see a mature buck in 2016. Spring 2016 yielded some hopeful prospects as we watched velvet development at our protein feeder sights. In September, it was evident that there were about four shooters coming pretty regularly, but then a fire consumed over half of the property mostly burning underbrush and small post oaks. We immediately planted in all open areas that were scorched, and by season opener started to see the black ground being slowly replaced with new green growth. My wife actually made it to the property with her family two days before me and was able to hunt and pull the camera chips to review pictures. Pictures blew my expectations out of the water. Several more mature big bucks were regularly occupying feeding stations across the expanse of the property though pictures were 90% nocturnal. The reports from my wife and in-laws were deer were moving only just before night and after dark, but with the no moon pattern I was hopeful deer would make a little more daytime movement. I had a hang on stand hung 25' up an oak in a rocky creek bottom that overlooks a trail that communicates between two of the protein feeders that was in perfect position for the prevalent SSE wind. I made my first hunt Saturday evening and saw some does and a scraggily 8 point early on, and just before dark, had a bachelor buck of four bucks (one being a 130" 8pt and one a 140" 10pt) came in. After a mundane season last year, I was tempted to draw on the 10pt, but after further observation and consideration, I decided he was less than four years old and wasn't near the caliber of some other bucks we had on camera. I ended up getting stuck up the tree waiting for them to vacate the area as they milled around nibbling on the corn and BB2 I hand scattered in the creek valley. Surprisingly, several times the four bucks would swap partners and spar abnormally aggressively for this early in the season. I sat in the dark enjoying the cool evening weather and the sounds of the night being interrupted by deer rattling their antlers against each other and making rubs. Needing to get back to camp, I made a series of loud owl hoots to try and push the deer away, but to no effect - in fact, one of the bucks bedded down. I finally was able to deter them from the area with coyote yelp and howls. The next morning very little activity occurred except for a handful of does.
Monday evening I got to the stand with the wind still in my favor and encountered the same does and bachelor bucks in the late evening. I again had ample opportunity to shoot the 8 and 10 point, but declined as day light began to fade. Assuming that would be it for the evening, I began gathering my things back into my climbing pack, but beyond the bachelor group of buck I caught movement of a tree branch swaying as it was displaced by a buck's antlers. I got still and watched as a buck with points sticking in all directions made his way on a string into my corn/BB2 piles. I had a few pictures of this deer at night, but couldn't really gauge his size in any of them. I saw antlers everywhere to confirm it was a shooter buck, and then I never looked back at his rack. When he came to a pile at 16 yards, I settled the pin and quickly executed the shot before I was influenced by nerves. The arrow impacted with a positive thwack and the deer jump kicked and ran for a few seconds before I heard a crash and legs kicking in the brush. The adrenaline dump hit and prayers of thanks were lifted up as I sat up the tree until well after dark in fear of pushing the deer. I made my way across the rocky and hilly terrain back to camp and let another hour of wait time passed as it all had happened so fast I began to doubt if I made a good shot or if I heard it actually go down.
Returning back to the scene of the shot, I found my arrow tipped with a QAD Exodus head to have a scant amount of red blood across its full length, but absolutely no blood on the ground that I could find. Somehow I convinced myself I heard him turn in his short run and go up the brushy hill, so ending the fruitless efforts to find a blood trail, I began aimlessly wandering around the brushy and rocky hills audibly asking for God's help to find the downed deer. I spent at least 2 hours desperately searching a large area to no avail and became very defeated. Doubt hit me hard making me think I possibly made a low brisket shot that accounted for the small blood and white hairs on the arrow and no further blood trail. With my flash light batteries fading, I returned for the third time back to the arrow to search for blood on my hands and knees. On my way back to the initial spot, I decided to go the opposite direction and search the rocky, briar laden creek bottom. At one point I was walking in the ruts of the creek contour and looked down and saw tan in a hole in the embankment. I had found him! In retrospect, he actually only ran 40 yards before expiring, but due to the terrain I couldn't see this and instead was driven by the belief I heard him turn and scale the hill. As exhausting as the search was physically and emotionally, so was the effort of getting this big bodied animal out of the creek bottom and up to an area 50 yards away where I could get the Gator. Through back breaking effort I made the haul and got him loaded and back to camp to be caped and quartered. Skinning it, I found the shot was perfect, high through the right lung, through the left ventricle of the heart, and exited the apex of the left lung, and the thorax was evident of massive hemorrhage, but I am still very troubled by the lacking blood trail. Nonetheless, with the work done, I got him loaded on ice, and dropped off to the taxidermist, yesterday. I plan on having a pedestal mount on him as he is quite likely the biggest deer that I will encounter in my hunting locations in my lifetime.
By no means am I am expert, but I took the measures as indicated by the B&C score calculator and entered them accordingly and resulted in 192 3/8" as a gross with a net of 177". This seemed overly high, so I had some other individuals with better scoring experience lay eyes on him in person, and the calculations were accurate per the consensus of others. I am blown away by the sheer blessing of observing this awesome animal, much less being able to kill him with my bow at less than 20 yards. I apologize in advance if this is a redundant hunting report, as I have posted this on TBH and some hunting FB groups for those that frequent there, but I consider this achievement akin to winning the lottery and am simply basking in the moment for just a bit.