Three Year Quest For Andre (The Giant) Ends In Putnam County
By Cliff Odum
We first got this buck on camera three years ago when he was a very nice 9-pointer. He had a clean rack with a non-matching G4 on his left side.
I had harvested a 10-point opening weekend of the 2023 season and had committed to my brother and father that I would not shoot another buck unless he was bigger. We always want to harvest a mature buck, and by mature, I mean 4 1/2-plus years old.
My parents had purchased this property five years ago, and my father, brother and I all started working on doing little things to make the property better for holding deer.
As the week went along, I had seen several little yearling bucks bumping some does around but knew the does were not ready yet as their fawns were still by their side. By midweek, I had witnessed a few small-racked bucks chasing does. For our area, this was typical for late October.
I thought back to two years ago when we named the buck Andre after former wrestler Andre The Giant. He was a big 8-point with a 2- to 3-inch drop tine on his right side, much bigger than any buck we had harvested. He had walked out two to three days before Halloween at about 300 yards. Buck fever got the best of me, and I missed him. I saw him again the next morning walking straight toward me, but he was more than 400 yards away. I watched him walk closer and then down into a dip in the field. He never came up, and I never saw him again that season. The following week my brother hunted him all week from the same stand. Andre stepped out of a small patch of woods approximately 250 yards away. Unfortunately, my brother also got a case of buck fever, and he, too, missed. Andre walked back into the woods before he could get another shot.
Over the summer of 2022, we watched him grow into a majestic 12-pointer. He had a split G1 on his right side and matching 3-inch kickers off his G2s. He also had a 2-inch G4 on his right side. I took off work the week of Oct. 31 to hunt him the entire week. I never got a glimpse of him that week. The following week my brother hunted him and got another shot at him. This time Andre was chasing a doe 345 yards away. He paused long enough for the shot, but unfortunately it was another miss. We were beginning to think we would never get him. My brother did see him again last year but never got another shot.
With my parents living on the farm and my brother and I already having our opportunities to harvest this buck, my father decided to hunt him. It was early December one morning when Andre stepped out a mere 35 yards away. Dad said he couldn’t shoot him. I was pretty upset, but Dad said he really wanted one of us to kill him. We got him on camera twice after that day, both times on the opposite side of the farm from where we usually got his picture. We knew he made it through the season as the last picture was in February. Later that month, Dad found both his sheds. Using a guess of an 18-inch inside spread, those sheds added up to 156 6/8 inches.
This past summer my brother and I were busy at work and didn’t get to running cameras until July. Holy smokes did this guy put on some growth! He was so massive at the bases, and kickers were showing up in several places. The waiting was agonizing. We just kept doing what we had been doing by keeping protein in the supplemental feeders, keeping our pastures in good condition since we grow hay for our cattle and for sale. I chose not to bowhunt him this year, as I didn’t want to do anything that might bump him out of his normal routine.
Opening weekend I received a call from an old high-school friend asking me to come over to their camp and catch up. I did and was introduced to one of the neighbors by our farm. Very quickly the conversation went into deer hunting and how they had a big deer on camera. He showed me the picture, and it was Andre. He said he had been chasing the buck for four years, and I told him we had, too. We shared a lot of information and pictures of him over the years. Opening weekend no one saw Andre, and he disappeared from our trail cameras for a week.
This year I scheduled the week of Oct. 25 off work. I knew this was before our rut really got going, but the pre-rut activity is high, and I thought I’d give it all I had. I hunted all but maybe two hours in the middle of the day. I stepped out of the woods just long enough to get lunch and use the restroom. The beginning of the week was warm, hitting the mid 80s, but the forecast for the end of the week was for the low 30s.
It was Friday morning, dead calm with a heavy frost. I had seen a lone doe 20 minutes after light leaving a small patch of woods going to an oak dropping acorns on the opposite side of the field. A few minutes later when I looked back, I saw another deer in that small patch of woods, but it was much closer, maybe 100 yards away. With the sun coming up, the shadows were dark, and I couldn’t tell what it was. When I got my binoculars up, I could see that it was a buck, but I wasn’t sure how big. Then, he started walking back in the woods. I knew then it was Andre, not because I could see his rack but by his walk. I had seen so much video footage of him and could recognize the particular gait that he had. He disappeared into the woods, but I knew unless he got on a doe that led him in a different direction that he would reappear in one or two places, either below me in a narrow cut through a patch of woods that led up to the woods he was in or cutting across the hay pasture at a pinch-point where the field is the narrowest.
Approximately 30 minutes had passed and finally I saw movement from behind some trees at the pinch-point. It was a doe. A minute or so later I saw movement again in the same place the doe had emerged. This time it was Andre. It was all I could do to make the shot. I was shaking so badly that the cross on my scope finally settled down to about a 4-inch circular motion on his shoulder. He was 200 yards, a chip shot, I thought. I had been practicing all summer, working up hand loads and shooting 1 1/4-inch groups consistently at 300 yards. I thought I was more than ready. I squeezed off the shot and down he went. I couldn’t believe it. I just shot Andre.
After getting some pictures from the field, logging him in my harvest record and submitting him for the GON Truck-Buck contest, I put a tape on his rack at 185 6/8 inches. I could not believe he was 29 inches greater than last year.
Putnam County Best Bucks Of All-Time
|1||215 7/8 (NT)||Thomas Cooper||1974||Putnam||Gun||View|
|2||172 2/8||Spunky Thornton||1983||Putnam||Gun||View|
|3||167 5/8||Stuart Nelson||1985||Putnam||Gun|
|4||166 5/8||Philip Clark||1972||Putnam||Gun|
|5||165 2/8||Don Harris||1974||Putnam||Gun||View|
|6||164 4/8||Hank Johnson||2007||Putnam||Gun||View|
|7||163 2/8||Jill Brown||2015||Putnam||Gun||View|
|8||163 1/8||Mason Smith||2011||Putnam||Gun||View|
|9||160 5/8||Jerry Land||1962||Putnam||Gun|
|10||160 1/8||Clyde Sales||1969||Putnam||Gun|
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