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Tyler Sutherland: 'Ghost' buck will live in hunter's memory

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Tyler Sutherland, holding his son, Beckett, bagged this giant buck on Nov. 15, the last day of the 3A firearms season. He'd been pursuing this buck, nicknamed "Ghost," for three years. The buck had 12 scorable points and green-scored at 165 3/8 inches.

It was the morning of Nov. 15, and I drove to my dad's house to pick him up for the final day of the 3A firearms deer season. We arrived at our hunting spot northwest of Rochester in good time, sprayed down with scent eliminator and headed to our stands.

It was a beautiful morning to be in the woods. The action started right away as I heard a few twigs crack behind me, and within a few minutes, two does walked right by my stand. That had me feeling pretty good about the day to come.

Things slowed down for the next hour or so, but everything changed at about 7:45 a.m. A doe ran through in front of me and disappeared into the woods. A few moments later, I heard some loud grunting from behind her.

I got my muzzleloader up and ready and waited for the buck that should be stepping out any minute. Right on cue, here came the buck, panting and grunting in the direction of the doe. I quickly realized the buck was too small and wasn't what I was looking for.

I lowered my gun and watched this smaller buck chase the doe all over the place, grunting loudly at her the entire time. He chased her back to where they originally came from and then crossed the pine tree line into the woods I was in, then back in the grass and back again through the pines.

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I'm not sure I've ever seen a chase that intense, and they sure made a lot of noise. When they finally disappeared, I continued looking around to see if anything else was in the area. As I looked to my left, I couldn't believe what I saw.

Enter 'The Ghost'

It was a big buck. I instantly recognized it by its tall and massive rack — this was the deer we call "Ghost," and it was the only mature buck we knew of in the area. I had been hunting this buck for three years.

He stepped out, probably smelling the doe and small buck. I had my muzzleloader up and ready and was trying to calm my buck fever. I wanted to see what he was going to do and was hoping he would get closer for a more comfortable shot.

He milled around for a while, then stopped, turned around and came toward my stand. As he walked, I got my muzzleloader up, and I picked out a lane to shoot through.

He kept coming, and as he stepped into my shooting lane, I put the crosshairs behind his front leg, steadied myself and pulled the trigger.

Through the cloud of black smoke, I watched Ghost turn around and run 30 yards back to the west, stop and turn around again, looking right in my direction. He had acted like nothing was wrong and had me questioning if I my shot had missed. After a few seconds, he ran north up a grass hill and stopped at the top of the field.

In a few moments, his legs got wobbly, and I knew I had put a good shot on him. He slowly walked another 20 yards, and suddenly he went down right in front of my eyes.

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Sharing the joy

I couldn't believe it. I was so excited that I spent a few moments in personal celebration, knowing this was the most precious animal I have harvested in a lifetime of hunting.

I then quickly called my wife and told her to come out to my hunting spot with my 9-month-old son, Beckett, as soon as possible. I also called my dad and my sister's fiance, John, and told them the good news.

My dad got down from his stand and walked to me, and John was there a few minutes later. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw him up close. He was a beautiful animal, and his antlers were even more massive than I had thought.

We all celebrated together and spent a lot of time looking in awe at the beautiful animal and his massive, chocolate-brown rack. My wife and son came shortly after, and I was able to give them a big hug and share this special moment with them.

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