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Giant Connecticut Buck Presents Unusual Situation

From a state not known for huge whitetail bucks comes a big one!

Giant Connecticut Buck Presents Unusual Situation

After hunting him for two years, I took a gamble on a sketchy wind and killed my biggest CT buck ever in December 2021.

My home state of Connecticut is not known for big bucks. In fact, it’s so hard to find a mature buck here that even after 40 years of bowhunting, I’ve never seen a P&Y-class buck, let alone shot one.

While I enjoy bowhunting my home state, it’s low on my priority list, and I generally don’t start hunting there until December. That was true during the winter of 2020.

I was heading home from a hunt in Ohio and had asked my son to hang a Moultrie Mobile trail camera on a property I planned to hunt. The pics started rolling in the next day — more would follow throughout the week. As expected, I saw mostly does, spikes, basket-racks, and a 2.5-year-old with antlers that might measure 60 inches.

Continuing to scroll through pics via Moultrie’s app, I came upon a magnificent buck that I immediately assumed was an Ohio deer. He was a mainframe eight-point that looked like he would go mid-150s P&Y. An absolute giant! I clicked on the thumbnail to view more details, and then quickly realized it wasn’t from Ohio…it was from Connecticut!

This was, by far, the biggest buck I’d ever seen in the Nutmeg State. I sent the pic to my CT hunting buddies, and they all thought I was goofing on them. I wasn’t — this was real.

Pat Lefemine, Trail Camera photo December 2020
This was the pic I received via Moultrie Mobile in December 2020. I had never seen this buck before.

Connecticut doesn’t grow big deer like Ohio, Kansas, or Iowa. We lack genetics, agriculture, and age structure. Any buck with a legal rack is getting shot, and few ever make it past the 3.5-year-old mark. Somehow, this one did, and I soon figured out why.

It was 2020, and COVID had the entire country locked down. Near the CT town where I hunt is a large preserve that’s closed to the public. No hunting, hiking, or even birdwatching is allowed. With everyone pretty much confined to their homes, the town asked the Conservators of the preserve to allow public access. They agreed, and suddenly hundreds of mask-wearing residents were traipsing through the preserve. The property I captured the photo on is less than a quarter-mile from the preserve. So, I surmised the buck had been bumped out of his lifelong sanctuary — and into my life.

While I was really excited about this buck, I only had one photo of him. That changed quickly, as the next day I received a second photo, and before the week was out, I had a dozen pics. It was game on!

I have one stand on this property. The deer come out of a swamp and enter a funnel via a well-used trail. I only hunt perfect winds there, and that happened three times the week I got home. I never saw the buck, but night pics confirmed he was still there.

I didn’t hunt at all the following week because the wind direction was terrible. Of course, that same week was when the buck started moving in daylight. I stayed disciplined and waited for better winds.

Pat Lefemine, Trail Camera photo Christmas Eve 2020
The buck lost his first antler on Christmas Eve. He dropped his other side the following week.

A week before Christmas, I received a new picture of the giant buck. His right side was gone! I couldn’t believe it because it seemed far too early for him, or any buck, to shed an antler at that time of year.

Somewhat deflated for personal reasons, I drove down to the property to see if I could find his shed. I found it after a three-hour search, and it was even bigger than it looked in the picture! While I was happy to have found his shed, I was ticked off that the biggest buck I’d ever seen in Connecticut was no longer huntable. Or was he?

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A thought crossed my mind: Why not kill the buck and glue his shed back on? I know, it sounds twisted, but it was certainly an option. It’s legal to shoot a shed buck. The only downside is that I could never legally enter him in the P&Y record book. It was decided. I kept after him until a few days later, when I received a photo of him with his other side gone. I laughed and said to myself, “You win!”

The next day, I headed to the property and found the buck’s left shed. I measured both sheds that evening, and after assuming a 20-inch inside spread, came up with a score of 156 as a clean eight-pointer.

Pat Lefemine, Connecticut buck sheds
My wife, Julie, is shown here holding both sheds. Assuming a 20-inch inside spread, the buck would gross 156 P&Y-style inches.

I showed the sheds to my son, who then tried to convince me to shoot the now bald buck and then glue both his sheds back on. I thought about that for a hot second to humor my son, but it was just too creepy. Hopefully next year.

I thought about that buck every day since my last pic in December 2020. I wondered how he fared over the winter, and if I’d ever see him again.

The following spring, I placed a mineral lick with a camera on it and kept that freshened until September. Nothing. As the fall season began, I used grains (legal in this area of Connecticut) to see if that would draw him in front of my camera. Still nothing.

In December 2021, I was back hunting in Ohio, when I got a notification from my Moultrie app. When the picture loaded, it was the giant CT buck. A year older, and perhaps a bit more frail. His brows got longer, but he lost mass and tine length from the previous year. I was in my stand the following weekend.

I was getting quite a few pics of him — only on certain days — but a pattern had developed. The buck only moved through my property when the wind blew from my stand to his bedding area. He was old, smart, and disciplined.

Pat Lefemine, Trail cam photo December 2021
Here’s a pic I received the following year in December 2021. He was declining, but still a giant for Connecticut.

That’s when it hit me: I was only hunting the winds favorable to me; the buck only moved on the winds favorable to him. I knew it was against the grain, but I also knew if I wanted to kill this buck, I would need to hunt my stand when the wind was mostly good for him, and mostly bad for me.

The week before Christmas called for a variable west wind. If it held west, it was probably a 50/50 shot he would come in and wind me. Any wind out of the north virtually guaranteed failure, and I’d most likely never see the buck again. I looked at three different forecasts before deciding to tempt fate.

I climbed into my stand at noon the next day and waited patiently for the late-afternoon hunt. At 2:30 p.m., a small buck approached. If the wind held steady, I was good. I was facing west and could feel a slight northwest wind start hitting my right cheek. The young buck ran 50 yards and then snorted for five minutes. There was no sense in climbing down, so I just stayed put until legal shooting time was over.

Thirty minutes later, I could see a form moving through the bedding area. When it stepped into the open, I couldn’t believe it. The giant buck was walking cautiously in my direction. I lifted my Mathews V3X off the hook and prayed for the wind to stay westerly. So far, so good.

The buck was within 30 yards, and while I was in control, I could feel my pulse pounding in my head. I have killed some great bucks, but not in Connecticut, and not after 40 years of trying. This was real pressure.

The buck walked under my stand and then paused. He swung his large frame in my direction. There was a blob in the tree he’d never seen before, and he didn’t like it. I stayed motionless.

He stared for 10 seconds, and then made a head fake. I remained motionless. Eventually he turned down the trail, which gave me a great shot angle. This was it.

I drew my bow, picked a spot, and released. Perfect hit!

The buck ran off in a panic, before colliding headfirst into a tree. He was dead within five seconds and 40 yards.

I had mixed emotions. I had thought about this buck every day since that first pic. I was so consumed by this buck that I almost shot him bald and glued his sheds back on! And now he was dead, just a few yards in front of my treestand. I felt a little regret — both that it was over, and that I had finally tagged an old deer that was exceptionally smart and exceptionally disciplined.

The regret didn’t last long. I put my hands on the magnificent buck for the first time, and while running my fingers down his back, I could feel every vertebra in his spine. He was likely dying — probably from old age — and I doubt he would have survived the winter.

His antlers had diminished 15 inches from the previous season, and judging by the pics he was a good 30 to 40 pounds lighter than normal. A fitting end to such a rare and special Connecticut deer.

When I showed him to my kids, my son, Matt, was extremely happy for me. He had a part in this hunt and took great pride that his camera placement had helped me identify the old warrior.

As Matt ran his hands over the buck’s big antlers in the back of my pickup, he said, “I knew you would get him, Dad, I’m so happy for you…but I still think you should have glued his antlers on last year when he was 156 inches!

The author is the founder of Bowsite.com and a regular Contributor to this magazine.

Author’s Notes

My list of equipment used to take this magnificent buck included a Mathews V3X bow set at 72 pounds, 100-grain Slick Trick broadheads, a variety of Moultrie cellular and static trail cameras, clothing from Sitka Gear, and optics from Swarovski.




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