By Mark Kenyon
The buck you see in the pictures above and below are the realization of a dream. A dream that is now coming true after many years of hoping and wishing. What is that dream? It’s the dream of just having the chance at a “giant” whitetail in Michigan. A realistic expectation that one of the monster bucks I’ve seen in magazines and TV shows could maybe be encountered on a frosty November morning in my home state. The realization that a buck of that caliber is even in the area. And now, this is all true.
But let’s first take a step back.
My hunting career began at the age of 3 or 4 years old, when I made my first trip to hunting camp with my dad, grandpa and the rest of the crew. I soon became entrenched in the Northern Michigan hunting tradition, and looked forward to our trip up to deer camp for the November 15th gun season opener every year. For many years thereafter, my only hunting experiences were those up north with a gun. We saw few, if any deer, but the dream grew in me every year – I needed to kill a buck. By the time I was old enough to hunt on my own, I had only seen maybe 3 bucks up at our property in all the years I’d been hunting with my dad and family members – but I didn’t get discouraged. I read everything I could, and hunted as hard as anyone ever has up there. At 16 I was hunting all day back in the swamp, often not seeing a single deer – but still going out the next day to do it all over again.
Around this time, my parents purchased a 3.5 acre property in southwestern michigan. It was a wooded lot, with a creek running through a valley at the back end of the property. I decided I should try hunting it, so I learned how to shoot a bow and gave it a shot! With only 3-4 acres to hunt, and a parent imposed rule of no treestands, I was certainly limited in what I could achieve in those years. But with contined effort, I finally shot my first buck. It was a nice 6 pointer shot with my bow at 25 yards, from a ground blind.
In the years after that I finally had success up north with my gun, and repeated my ground bow success behind my parents house as well. But up to this point, I had been striving to kill any buck at all. It was challenge enough, given my limitations. But things changed when I graduated college and moved out on my own to the southern part of the state. Now when I drove the roads in the summer evenings, I did not just see does and forkies. I saw bucks, lots of them and big ones to boot! I remember the first Pope & Young buck I ever saw (this wasn’t that long ago haha) and the way my jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe a deer like this was in my state!
As you’ve read above, my journey to this point has been a long and trying one. I was not born into big bucks. I never had a realistic chance of even seeing a buck older than two years old until I was an adult! And up until recently, I never had a reasonable chance of even seeing a “big” buck. But things have finally changed.
Now a handful of years later, I’ve been seeing and chasing “quality” bucks in my home state, and my expectations and goals have risen. Any buck just won’t do. But what has still evaded me the last few years is a true Michigan Monster. The kind of buck that anyone in the country would be impressed by. Over the past couple years, I have seen some bucks like this in the summer while driving around – and it’s certainly gotten me thrilled. But I’ve never really been able to hunt a buck of that caliber.
That is until now. Now I have a monster.
I have access to hunt a handful of properties in Michigan, and on one of these lives a giant. I first filmed this buck about a month ago, feeding in a bean field. And now he has shown up, hard horned, on trail camera. We’ve dubbed this buck “Triple Threat” because he as an inside tine, a split brow tine, and what appeared on film this summer to be a drop tine. He is truly a Michigan Monster and the kind of buck that I’ve dreamed about seeing here in my home state for a long time.
That dream is finally a possibility, but obviously not a foregone conclusion. It’s still highly unlikely I’ll ever see this buck while hunting – but there is still a chance. A chance is all I need. A hope is enough for me to cling to. And this dream will keep me going.
Could it be my year for a Michigan Monster? I can’t say for sure – but I can hope, and I can dream. And for now – that’s enough.
– Mark Kenyon