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The Living Room Buck: some hunters can probably recall hearing a spouse's disapproval of yet another deer head entering the house. But Ohio hunter Mike Behrmann didn't have that problem. When he was struggling to get good photos of his monster 25-pointer, his wife, Andrea, actually told him to bring the whole buck inside their home. So was born the legend of the "Living Room Buck".

Sometimes the decision to back out after shooting a deer is a tough one. The wait gets even tougher when the deer is a trophy. Ohio hunter Mike Behrmann has experienced the difficulty of waiting firsthand. In November 2012, Mike arrowed a nice 10-pointer and decided to err on the side of caution and let the deer lie. Mike is an experienced hunter, one who prides himself on his mastery of the sport. Like many other seasoned hunters, he knows that adding too much post-shot pressure can lead to lost deer. While Mike was confident that he had made a fatal shot on the 10-pointer, he wanted to ensure a clean retrieval. Mike decided the best call was to simply back out of the area for a few hours so the deer had plenty of time to expire.

BUCK BANDITRY

Unfortunately, Mike's ethical decision was stained by the actions of someone much less moral than he. When Mike returned to the location where he had shot the 10-pointer, he was heartbroken to find that not only had someone stolen his tree stand, but the person had also taken his deer. That's right, Mike's 10-pointer had been hijacked by someone who presumably had watched or heard Mike make the shot. Devastated by the loss of his equipment and his trophy buck, Mike retreated home in contemplation of quitting the sport he loved.

Mike remembers the letdown of finding his deer stolen: "When I returned to retrieve my deer, my tree stand was gone, stolen, along with my buck. I was ready to give up at that point. I couldn't wrap my head around why someone would do something like that. But the more I thought about it, I realized I wouldn't let it stop me."

Fortunately, Mike's frustration at his poor luck was lessened by his newfound hunting partner, 9-year-old son Dylan. Mike's relationship with Dylan is strongly grounded in their mutual passion for the outdoors, and Mike's determination to share the thrill of whitetail hunting with his son has kept him in the woods. During the 2013 season they hunted together several times, and Mike's passion for hunting is now stronger than ever.

CHANGE OF LUCK

In 2013, Mike had gained hunting access to a new piece of ground through one of his coworkers. At work, Mike overheard that his friend had recently acquired some land that he used for recreational ATV riding and camping. Mike, optimistically hoping for the best, simply asked for permission to hunt. Luckily, it worked.

In 2014, Mike had spent significant time scouting the new ground and had seen some nice bucks. Ironically, one of the nicest bucks was another big 10-pointer. Mike would later find himself in a season-long quest for the trophy buck. After seeing the deer multiple times, Mike learned the hard way that the deer was bedding extremely close to his stand location. Mike actually jumped the deer twice, and on the second of these occasions he forced off a quick shot at the retreating buck. Unfortunately, the speedy encounter ended in Mike's missed shot. Disgruntled, Mike feared that he was suffering under the grip of a 10-pointed curse.

As Mike's relationship with the 10-pointer grew increasingly ill-fated, he was eventually blessed with a chance encounter that turned the tide of his season. On December 2, 2014, after forgetting his safety harness in the truck, Mike made a split-second decision to hunt from the ground. While sitting on the ground, wondering whether he should have just gone back to the truck and gotten his harness, Mike noticed movement coming over the crest of a neighboring hillside. Mike's decision was looking like it might pay off, and he was ready to put his shotgun to work on what was clearly a heavy-racked bruiser.

"As I was looking around, one hillside over from where I was sitting, I spotted a monster," recalls Mike. "I picked up my Remington 870 shotgun and watched as he came to within 120 yards. He was just standing there looking around. I definitely could tell he had heard my calls, but he was unsure which direction to turn. It seemed like he was standing there for hours, but in reality he was only there a matter of minutes.

"I picked up my gun, and I immediately started to shake," remembers Mike. "So I lowered my arm, took a couple of deep breaths to calm my nerves, and then grabbed my bleat can. I turned it upside down one time. The buck heard it, turned his head my direction and started walking right towards me. I raised my gun slowly, put my sight on him, and shot him at 75 yards. He ran down the hill towards me, up the creek about 150 yards and fell. He was down!"

TRIUMPH AT LAST

After shooting the buck, Mike realized that his misfortunes were finally over. Mike's persistence in hunting had paid off better than he'd ever expected. The buck he had just taken would far surpass the 10-pointer that had been eluding Mike all season.

As Mike approached the downed buck, he would soon realize that he was looking at a 25-point brute. Mike's passion for deer hunting had been rewarded with a 216 2/8-inch giant, one that had appeared out of nowhere.

"I put my gun on safety and took off running like crazy," Mike says. "I had called my buddy who was hunting nearby, and asked him to come help with the retrieval. He couldn't figure out why I was in such a rush, and he kept telling me that the deer was down, and not to worry. He was trying to reassure me that the buck wasn't going anywhere. I said, 'Dude you don't understand. I have been waiting a very long time to put my hands on a trophy buck, and nothing is going to stop me this time.'

"I was so excited when I walked up on the monster," Mike says. "I was honestly fighting off tears, because I knew I had finally gotten my buck! By this point my buddy was asking if I was crying, and I just told him he needed to hurry up and get over there to see the deer up close. I couldn't believe what I was looking at. The deer had points everywhere, and it was just unbelievable. I sat there counting his tines over and over, and it eventually started to sink in that he had 25 points: a monster non-typical 25-pointer. It was crazy."

PHOTO PROBLEMS

After calling everyone he knew, including Andrea and Dylan, Mike finally headed home to take photos with his buck. He was determined to get good pictures of the deer, but a fast approaching snowstorm was reason for concern. Once he had gotten home, Mike struggled to find

adequate lighting, and his pictures were coming out blurry. After having waited so long to take a deer of this caliber, Mike was quickly becoming more and more frustrated at the poor-quality images. With the storm worsening quickly, Mike's deer seemed determined to dodge a mug shot.

What happened next seemed a miracle --and has probably made other deer hunters across the nation a little bit jealous. Seeing her husband's frustration mounting, Andrea told him to bring the deer inside the house.

Mike, stunned by what he was hearing, remembers Andrea's orders: "Next thing I know my wife was telling me to bring the deer inside the house. She was determined to get good photos, and the only way she could think to do so was to bring him inside. I remember asking her if she was serious. I asked, 'Who in the world takes deer inside the house to take pictures?' Andrea's response was priceless: 'We do.'

"My buddies just started laughing," Mike recalls. "A few seconds later, they stopped, shocked. They all said, 'Dude, I think she is serious!'

In disbelief, Mike consented: "Well, boys, you heard the boss. Grab a leg; we are taking him in.

"At that point Andrea was yelling at us to not mess up his hide!" Mike exclaims. "So that's the story of how we got the infamous living-room picture! Andrea ended up being more upset with the two flip-flops and the unfolded blankets on the couch."

Mike's impromptu living-room photo shoot proved immensely popular, and as he shared his photos on Facebook, things went viral quickly. Before Mike knew it, his deer was gaining recognition and popularity nationwide, and people had naturally named it the Living Room Buck. Mike was encouraged and flattered by the outpouring of praise he received over the photos of his deer, and he wishes only to use the limelight as an opportunity for supporting safe hunting and the introduction of the youth to the outdoors.

"The moral of my story is no matter how rough, tough or bad things get, never give up," encourages Mike. "There is nothing more important to me than getting the youth involved in the outdoors, hunting and fishing. Getting the young generation outside is critical to the continuation of the sport. You can ask anyone I know; I preach this all the time.

"I am so thankful and grateful for all of the support that I have received over the photo of my Living Room Buck," says Mike. "It's truly amazing how many people enjoyed my picture, and even crazier that it went so viral on social media so fast. It feels good to know that people are not only impressed by my deer, but also by my awesome wife and awesome beard. One last thing, please everyone take the time to think about safety and always wear your safety harness." NAW

BY HAYNES SHELTON, ASSOCIATE EDITOR
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Author:Shelton, Haynes
Publication:North American Whitetail
Date:Dec 1, 2015
Words:1623
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