170-Inch Bow-Buck, The Madison County ‘Moose’

Moose was an appropriate nickname for Garrett Saxon's 15-point buck.

Drew Hall | October 1, 2020

Garrett Saxon was having a pretty good start to September. He had already seen two large shooter bucks on one of his hunting spots in Madison County, and he had also just been married on the second Saturday of archery season. The only thing that could possibly make the month any better was killing one of the big bucks he’d already spottedand that’s exactly what he did during an evening hunt on Sept. 20, taking a giant 15-point buck he had nicknamed Moose.

“Moose was a typical 140-inch 10 in 2019 that I seen multiple times and let walk because I knew he was still a 3 1/2-year-old. Fast forward to year 2020. I had no pictures of the deer I named Moose, no sightings or anything. One morning I decided to get up and go watch the field. All of a sudden on the opposite side of the field I catch him out of the corner of my eye, and he is huge, and that’s when it hit me… I wasn’t getting pictures because I was on the wrong side of the property. He had moved. So I set up a trail camera and that night I got this picture, and I knew it was Moose as soon as I saw it. He blew up into a giant, so I went in and I hung stands.

Moving trail cameras confirmed the buck had moved to the other side of the Madison County property since last season.

“I told my wife that I wasn’t going on a honeymoon until that deer was dead. I thought it was going to be the quickest divorce anyone had ever seen!”

Garrett, 20, has been a bowhunter for six years but had never killed a buck with a bow. He’s been particular. He said he’d shot lots of does and passed a lot of young bucks, but he never found the right one to be his first. The string had broken on his old bow last season, and Garrett said it was late in the game before he decided he was going to go all-in on archery hunting and get a new bow for the 2020 season.

“I give all the credit for that deer to Sam Bow’s Archery Shop in Ila,” he said. “He had sold over 200 bows in one week, and I was able to get the very last one he had in the store. It was a Mathews VXR 28.”

Once Garrett start getting a lot of photos on his trail camera and had his stands hung, he was ready to hunt Moose hard when the wind would allow it.

“I hunted every morning and every evening except three mornings. Every one of those mornings he showed up in the spot. I had my cell camera set up where it sends photos one time a day. One morning he was even in there after I’d gotten out of the stand,” he said.

Garrett also saw Moose on opening day at about 70 yards, but the huge buck never came close enough for a shot opportunity. But on the evening of Sept. 20, the stars aligned, and Garrett was able to win the chess match and take the biggest deer of his life—and his first ever bow-buck.

“Sunday evening I went in real quiet and climbed the tree silently, and it wasn’t 15 minutes and I had deer all around me at 3 p.m. Later that evening I was looking at my phone and looked up and Moose was sitting there looking at me at 70 yards. He walked straight downwind of me watching me the whole time. He was trying to get my scent, and he never could get it, then he turned and started walking right toward me. I shot him at 25 yards broadside. He was behind me and I was in my climber. I had to lean over and shoot around the tree. If the safety harness would have been about 2 inches shorter, I wouldn’t have been able to shoot him,” Garrett said.

Garrett knew he made a good shot, and it was confirmed by the way Moose was running away.

“At about 50 yards his front legs started buckling, and at about 70 yards I saw him go down. He was running through a thicket, and on the other side he just fell over. I climbed down and gave him about an hour before I went to look at him. It was the fastest I’ve ever climbed down a tree, I think I made it down in about two seconds,” he said.

Moose blew up from a 140-inch 10-point last year to a wide and tall 15-pointer that has been taped (green score, unofficial) at 169 5/8 inches of antler.

The 15-point buck has six points on the left side and nine on the right. It was green scored at 169 3/8 and will likely score best as a non-typical. The buck will likely be the No. 1 non-typical bow-buck ever recorded in Madison County. The current county record bow-buck is a typical that netted 151 4/8, killed by Wade Patterson in 1990. Racks can be officially measured after a 60-day ‘drying’ period from date of harvest.


Madison County All-Time Record Bow-Bucks

1151 4/8 Wade Patterson1990MadisonBowView 
2140 2/8 Joseph Russell2021MadisonBowView 
3135 1/8 Josh Hix2020MadisonBowView 
4134 4/8 Nathan Gammons2005MadisonBow
5132 6/8 Johnny Dyer1995MadisonBow
6132 2/8 Ernest McGaughey2011MadisonBow
7129 5/8 Joseph Russell2020MadisonBowView 
8128 4/8 David M. Hanley2016MadisonBow
9126 Robert Armour2004MadisonBow
10125 4/8 Ronald Allen2010MadisonBow

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