2016-10-27 / Outdoors

Perfect 10: Bow hunter meets his ‘monster’ buck

Ten-point taken near Lakeshore ‘easily a Pope and Young entry’
By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff


BRUCE DONALDSON proudly displays the 10-point trophy buck he shot near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Oct. 17. The rack had an inside spread of 22.5 inches. BRUCE DONALDSON proudly displays the 10-point trophy buck he shot near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Oct. 17. The rack had an inside spread of 22.5 inches. Bruce Donaldson was recently reminded how fast word travels in Leelanau County deer-hunting circles.

“I walked into the archery shop and I’m showing them the antlers when a guy I don’t even know pulls up a picture of me and my buck on his phone,” said Donaldson, who lives just south of the county line off Oviatt Road.

Word of the Oct. 17 harvest may be old news by now, but Donaldson’s story actually began two years ago.

Since 2014, he had been tip-toeing into his secret blind “near Sleeping Bear Dunes” National Lakeshore and walking away without seeing deer.

His eyes told him to find a new spot, but his game cameras said otherwise.

“I knew he was there,” Donaldson said. “I had picked him up on trail cams for a couple years, but it was not a good place to hunt deer. When the wind was right, I would go. They don’t get that big unless they’re pretty smart.”

The buck may have been smart, but Donaldson was persistent. Still, he knew their paths wouldn’t cross unless the buck made a mistake.

The mistake was finally made a few hours before dusk last Monday.

Donaldson found himself within 25 yards of the 10-point beauty, steadied his compound bow and connected.

“I’ve been flying high for a week,” said Donaldson, who found the buck the following morning. “It’s a big buck, the biggest buck I’ve ever shot in 50 years. I took it to Gabe’s (Country Market) and they said you’ve got to call the paper. I took it to the taxidermist and he told me the same thing. I’m not one for tootin’ my own horn, but all those guys are saying it.”

Donaldson is waiting to have the buck scored but said he unofficially measured the monster at 138 inches.

Mike “Junior” Gabourie, who skinned the deer at Gabe’s, said the buck may be closer to 160 inches.

“That’s one of the biggest I’ve ever seen,” Gabourie said.

Donaldson’s taxidermist, Dean Williams, didn’t score the buck but said it had an inside spread of 22.5 and tines ranging between 6 and 8 inches.

Williams, owner of Michigan Artistic Wildlife Taxidermy in Cedar, said it appeared to score somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 inches.

“That’s an impressive deer right there,” he said. “Our county’s starting to get a little bit of that, though. In year’s past, it was hard pressed to find a deer like that but, this season, there’s been a couple nice bucks killed that you didn’t see killed years ago.

“Guys out there now know there’s more deer in the county and they’re waiting, where in year’s past they didn’t. They’d shoot the first buck to come through. Now, they’ll pass up a nice 8-point to shoot that 10-point. It’s a big difference in how some of these guys are approaching hunting season.”

Quality deer management efforts certainly paid off for Donaldson, who said the trophy buck should “easily” be big enough for a Pope and Young entry.

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