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As a young boy growing up in the Loess Hills of Iowa, I was naturally drawn to the outdoors. With most of my free time spent hunting or fishing, I developed a passion for whitetails.

I called him “The Freak”

Ok folks I have a little story of a deer I called “The Freak” and yes I realize how plain that name is but it’s what we called him. The story of this deer was 4 years in the making. On October 30th of 2008 I got a bunch of pics of this 3.5 year old buck, which had a traveling partner that I called “Fence Row” because he was straight 12 with a perfect rack. The 3.5 year old was a great up and comer who needed a few more years. With no first hand (in the stand) sightings of this deer or his traveling partner that year. I all had to go off of was the trail cam pictures.

We move on to 2009, where I again start to get pictures of this buck and his friend right around Halloween, same time of year as the year before. This buck who is now 4.5 years old has taken a decent jump in total inches. But yet again I had ZERO sightings of this deer all season long. With trail cam pictures still coming in of this deer I could only hope he would make a mistake and let me get eyes on him. That year ended the same as the first.

In 2010 it was the same story. The only difference was that he and his friend had parted ways. Those two bucks were no longer running together. They were both on the same farm but appeared to no longer be friends.. Now 5.5 year old “The Freak” was turning into something special. This buck was a ghost but not camera shy. That year ended again with ZERO first hand sightings.

In 2011 this buck exploded at age 6.5 in body size and a major jump in rack size. He was no longer a mid 170 class deer. I hated to even think what he would score and honestly with all that he had going on I would have had to put hands on him to know for sure. With the same story from the past 3 years, this deer shows back up in the same location at the same time of year on the same camera. Here we go again is all I could think of… But with the new growth of this deer, I would focus all my efforts into putting him on the ground in 2011. He was the only buck I wanted to shoot. I moved stand locations to different travel areas in hopes of at least seeing this deer for the first time. Set up more cameras in other areas to maybe lock down his patterns. All of which were a failure.

It was on Nov 13 of 2011 “my birthday” when I decided to take a friend of mine along for that day’s hunt. We had planned to sit all day in different stand locations to better our odds of seeing this mature buck. I had not informed my friend, Matt, of the kind of deer he might encounter. So he sat in a ladder stand completely oblivious to what was roaming this section of woods. His stand was hung along a thick side hill of cedars that was within 50 yards of where I had the freak on camera every year. I had sat in that stand countless times over the years but had never seen that deer. That morning I went to the far end of the cedars to hunt a set that was perfect for the wind that day. I had never hunted this set but was pretty excited for the possibilities of the day.

The deer movement that day was great, we had bucks running everywhere. Several nice bucks had walked passed me but not the buck I was hunting for… The Freak. At 2:30 pm that I got a text from Matt saying “I just screwed up on a giant”. My head about exploded!!! I could only think that it had to be “The Freak!” As the hunt ended and we rode back home from the hunt I asked Matt a thousand questions about the buck he had seen. He really didn’t know anything besides he was “big”. I couldn’t handle it any longer, I had to know so I pulled out my phone an handed it to him an asked the simple question.. ” Is this him” Matt just about jumped out of his skin and confirmed he had missed an opportunity at “The Freak”.

After four years of history with this buck that is where the story ends. No more pics and no more sightings of this buck I called The Freak. I still find myself setting in a tree stand wondering what ever happened to him… was poached? or shot by someone on a neighboring property? Or Hit by a car? Maybe killed by EHD in the summer of 2012. This story was not quite done yet after all these years, all I had of this buck were the trail cam pictures that I had stored on our home computer in a separate file. I would often scan through them from time to time but in the fall of 2012 my computer crashed and I lost them all. I was heartbroken it was like losing a pet.

I know it's not the best pictures but it's all I have left of "The Freak"

I know it’s not the best pictures but it’s all I have left of “The Freak”

Fast forward to last night as I was going through a pile of junk and I found my old flip phone from years ago an low and behold I had one picture of “The Freak” on it. So at least I have this one photo to keep forever. Stay tuned to Victory Outdoors for more, I’m now have an uncontrollable need to do a card pull this weekend…

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