2016-12-01 / Outdoors

Trophy bucks found in death grip


OMENA HUNTER Bob Joyce is shown with the antlers of two bucks found dead on a West Grand Traverse Bay beach. After receiving a permit to keep them, the antlers became untangled while being transported to his vehicle. BELOW right, a trail cam photo of one of the bucks. OMENA HUNTER Bob Joyce is shown with the antlers of two bucks found dead on a West Grand Traverse Bay beach. After receiving a permit to keep them, the antlers became untangled while being transported to his vehicle. BELOW right, a trail cam photo of one of the bucks. Many deer hunters dream of having a big buck mounted to hang on the wall.

The trophy bucks found in Omena last week that will hang together, however, will bring little satisfaction to Bob Joyce.

“It’s really sad,” said Joyce, reflecting upon two bucks whose antlers tangled while fighting last week for dominance on a beach near Omena.

Joyce, the Department of Public Works superintendent for the Village of Suttons Bay, and county Sheriff’s deputy Greg Hornkel were pushing a section of woods near the beach when they found the two deer.

Their antlers remained locked, although their bodies had been ravished by coyotes.

“I think they fought, then got out into the water and were fighting, and then I think they drowned,” Joyce said.

He and Hornkohl received permits from a Michigan Conservation Officer to keep the deer, which are being mounted by Mark Steimel of Fur-Fish-Game Taxidermy in Leland Township.

“They are big bucks, probably four- or five-year-old bucks,” Steimel said. “They would each score in the 130s.”

Steimel was referencing the Boone and Crockett measuring system for game animals. A score for whitetail deer higher than 125 inches qualifies a buck to be recognized by the Michigan Commemorative Bucks organization when shot with a firearm; the threshold is 100 inches for archery hunting.

Joyce and his hunting friends had several trail camera photos of the bucks taken near the Omena area.

“We have been watching them since August,” Joyce said. “They were traveling a pretty good circuit — at least three or four miles. It’s crazy. Even the DNR officer ran to get his phone. He said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this.’”

Joyce’s hunting friend had walked the same beach on Saturday, Nov. 19. The bucks were found on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 24.

— by Alan Campbell

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