Two trophy deer for two lifetime friends
Feb. 22, 2002
A big doe stepped into view to the left along the fence line leading from the big cottonwood tree in which Jeff Newell was perched. The hunter's video camera recorded the moment. Looking at the camera's replay screen, Newell noticed the legs of another deer in the brushy scene. He panned the area again and the huge rack of a mature buck came into view. The resulting video becomes blurred and erratic at this point.
Fighting panic at the sight of the biggest whitetail buck Newell had ever seen, he fumbled for the borrowed .270 Weatherby Magnum rifle and found the buck in its scope just before it disappeared into thick cover. The neck shot was true and a lifetime trophy was on the ground less than an hour after the hunter had crawled into position in the tree stand.
The hunt took place along the banks of the North Platte River in western Nebraska near Scottsbluff. Newell, of Meridian, made the hunt with lifelong friend and hunting companion Bo Pierce, who lives in Colorado. The two friends meet as often as possible to hunt various game that includes pheasants and waterfowl as well as big game.
Reminiscing about this four-day whitetail hunt, Pierce said, "All I knew was that something big normally takes place when Jeff and I cross paths." Their outdoor pursuits have spanned more than 18 years.
The Nebraska deer were rutting during this early November hunt, and they were feeding in large corn fields that held the leavings of a harvested crop. Drought had set in and the temperatures reached sixty degrees during the day following night time readings in the twenties. Deer were easily heard as the does ran through dry grass, fleeing in nature's mating game from amorous bucks. The men kept video cameras busy, sometimes taping two or three bucks giving chase in a single place. They also filmed pheasants, waterfowl, turkeys, coyotes and fox squirrels.
Jeff sighted some 40 deer on the first day of the hunt, but Bo saw only a few. Day two produced the trophy for Jeff with Bo still having only limited action in locations where he had scouted large bucks a few weeks before the season. The third day found Bo back at his river stand still seeing only a few deer, including immature bucks. That afternoon, he decided to try the stand where Jeff had scored because so many does were using the area.
He climbed into the hang-on stand at 2:30, expecting to begin seeing deer about 4 o'clock. But just 10 minutes later, a large doe ran from thick cover and jumped the fence some 75 yards from the stand and raced away. Bo then heard the unmistakable grunts of a buck coming from the thicket behind the doe.
Moment of truth
A large rack appeared above the brush and Pierce raised his Ruger Number One 7mm rifle and looked through the Burris scope. The buck was running and the single-shot rifle offered only one opportunity. Fortunately the scope had been set to a low magnification and thus a wide field of view.
As the buck cleared the four-strand fence, Pierce swung the crosshairs ahead of the deer's shoulder and fired the rifle. The buck continued in full flight along the path of the fleeing doe, apparently untouched. Then, at the limit of Pierce's vision, the deer crashed to the ground. The 140 grain soft point bullet had found its mark just behind the shoulder.
Nebraska conservation officers estimated the age of both bucks at 6 years. Newell's deer weighed 230 pounds and had an outside antler spread of 19 1/2 inches. Pierce's buck weighed 245 pounds and had an inside spread of 18 inches. Both men had taken their lifetime largest whitetail bucks from the same stand. They plan to be in the same place next November, looking for another special time between good friends.