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An experience to be shared: Chad Widnes' encounter with a Minnesota monarch was the hunting adventure of a lifetime, but to share it with his father made the experience even more valuable.

It was 3:30 a.m. on opening day of the 2010 Minnesota deer season, and a dream was about to come true for a Central Minnesota man hunting on his father's property. I awoke that crisp November morning to the frosty air in my cabin. The generator had run out of fuel. I crawled out of my sleeping bag and ventured outside to refill the generator. On my way back to the cabin, I realized it would be in my best interest to get ready for the day's hunt.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

As I packed up my gear, I decided to head to the stand, even if it was way too early. I was about 50 yards away from the cabin when I realized I had forgotten my lucky deer grunt made years ago by Uncle Larry Lange. After retrieving the grunt call, I headed back out. I stopped to rest at the halfway point and prepared my lure and grunt. I sprayed my boots and drag line and then proceeded to my stand. As I began my 150-yard trek to my stand on the west end of the property, I stopped every 10 steps or so to spray my lure and blow the grunt. When I reached the stand, I set down all of my gear and walked in a 25-yard circle spraying my lure. Then I said a deer hunting prayer and climbed up.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Once in the stand, I opened two packages of hand warmers and kicked back to relax. The early morning noise of the woods drifted over me. I settled in and glanced at my watch. It was only 4:45 a.m. I dozed off and woke bright-eyed at 5:30 a.m. to a noise that was unmistakably a deer making its way through the fallen leaves and branches on the forest floor.

I squinted in the faint light of the early dawn but couldn't see the source of the noise. Soon, the gobble of turkeys signaled morning in the woods.

By 6:30 a.m. I began to hear gunshots, but I had yet to see any deer. What's going on? I thought to myself. Typically, I see deer at this location shortly after daybreak, but soon it was 8:15 a.m. and still no deer. Then, I saw a slight movement.

I reached for my camera and spotted a small 8-point buck. I recorded him going through the woods until he disappeared and then I set the camera down. A few moments later, I noticed another deer approximately 75-100 yards from my stand. I reached for my camera again, took a look, then quickly set my camera down and reached for my.30-06. It was a shooter!

I pulled the.30-06 up to my shoulder, but the buck didn' t present a clear shot at first. I put the gun down and scouted out another opening through the brush.

I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my chest! The buck reached the opening, and I squeezed off a round.

The buck dropped immediately, but seconds later he was back up on all fours. I shot again and he fell, got back up and headed straight away from me. I shot one more time, but this time only a small maple tree felt the sting of my shot.

I sat dazed for a couple of minutes as my heart continued to race. Then, I climbed out of my deer stand.

As I reached the ground, I took a moment to realize that I had shot into the sun. Excitement was coursing through me as I walked over to where I thought the buck had been standing.

There was nothing there--not even a trace of blood. That's when I looked back towards my stand and noticed I was a little off in my calculations. Just then I heard gunshots close by and began to get nervous. I kept walking and looking, and finally I spotted a pool of blood. I kept my eyes peeled for the buck. As I followed the blood trail, I was closing in on my fathet 's deer stand.

As I reached the edge of the field I looked towards the stand, spotted my father and waved him over to me.

When my father caught up to me, he asked if I was the one who had shot and what I had shot at.

I excitedly told him about the large buck and showed him the blood trail.

The trail led across the field and behind my fathet' s stand. Dad remarked that when I started shooting he was paying full attention to the swamp, but the blood trail told us that the buck had taken a gamble by crossing the wide-open field instead.

When my father and I reached the middle of the field, he stopped me and we discussed what we needed to do. Dad was going to move to the other side of a thick patch of underbrush in case the buck tried to bust through.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

As he took off towards the brush, I continued to follow the trail of blood. Just then I saw movement in the trees and yelled at Dad to stop, then I quickly pulled off a shot.

Just 40 yards away was the body of my buck. Overwhelmed with emotion, Dad and I quickly made our way towards the buck.

Once we reached the downed animal, I realized just how large the buck truly was. After finally calming down, we started the arduous task of bringing the big buckback to the farm.

Upon reaching the farm, I called a cousin who knows a bit about scoring deer, and he came right over. He scored the deer at approximately 200 inches without deductions.

It was at that moment I fully realized this was a buck of trophy proportions! My father and I posed for a couple of photos and stopped for a few more hugs of joy. I cannot explain how grateful I am to my father for all he has done to keep the family farm so that we can experience moments as special as this one.

The buck's net score was 190 1/8 inches as a typical! Mike Harrison from Wadena, Minnesota, was the official scorer. When I met with Harrison in November 2010, he admitted that he was in disbelief that he might get the chance to score a 200-inch typical whitetail deer.

Once the final score was tallied, I made arrangements to collect my deer shoulder mount from Dewey's Taxidermy.

Next I attended the 2011 Minnesota Deer Classic to display the mount of my buck. I was awarded largest typical buck for the 2010 Minnesota Deer Season.

This hunt was truly a once-ina-lifetime experience. My fondest hope is that I might be able to share a similar experience with my own sons on the same farm in the future. Moments like this one cannot be adequately shared in words and stories alone.
CHAD WIDNES BUCK

Scorable points    12 (7R, 5L)  Totc length
Tip-to-tip spread       11 0/8  of abnormal
Greatest spread         27 4/8  points: 2 5/8
Inside spread           23 0/8

Areas Measured       Right    Left   Difference

Main Beam           29 2/8  29 0/8         2/8

1st point (G-1)      3 4/8   3 0/8         4/8

2nd point (G-2)     12 4/8  13 5/8       1 1/8

3rd point (G-3)     12 0/8  11 0/8       1 0/8

4th point (G-4)      8 1/8   9 2/8       1 1/8

5th point (0-5)      2 0/8     --      2 0/8

Istcirc. (H-1)       5 0/8   5 1/8         1/8

2ndcirc. (H-2)       4 6/8   4 6/8          --

3rd circ. (H-3)      6 1/8   5 6/8         3/8

4th circ. (H-4)      5 6/8   6 0/8         2/8

Totals              89 0/8  87 4/8       6 6/8

Gross typical score                    199 4/8

Subtract side-to-side differences       -6 6/8

Add abnormal points                     +2 5/8

FINAL NET NON-TYPICAL SCORE            190 1/8

Taken by: Chad Widnes
Date: Nov. 6, 2010
Location: Otter Tail County, Minnesota
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Author:Widnes, Chad
Publication:North American Whitetail
Geographic Code:1U4MN
Date:Dec 1, 2011
Words:1359
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