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URBAN LEGEND: IN THE SHADOW OF LINCOLN, NEBRASKA, JACOB GIPSON WAS ABOUT TO SHOOT A DOE AND GO HOME. SECONDS LATER, HE WAS FACE TO FACE WITH AN.

If you were to listen in on a conversation among serious whitetail hunters, it probably wouldn't be long before someone mentioned the problem of urban sprawl. The comment might be along the lines of, "I used to have a great place to hunt, but it's now a parking lot."

There's no doubt growing cities have had an impact on local wildlife populations. As our urban centers continue to expand, we've become all too accustomed to seeing groves of trees getting bulldozed, as well as other habitat types being leveled, filled and poured over with concrete. I'm sure we've all witnessed it at one time or another. Undoubtedly, this "progress" has been the bane of many a hunter and is one of the many causes of hunter displacement.

But not all is lost. Rabbits, coyotes and whitetails have all adapted very well to these changes and are now commonly seen within most developed areas. At the same time, many hunters also have adapted to this new type of opportunity. Savvy hunters realize great bucks can live within the borders of even large cities.

One such hunter is Jacob Gipson of Lincoln, Nebraska. He and his family have been hunting "the 'burbs" for 18 years now.

"I'm very fortunate," Jacob says. "My family has a business lease that abuts to the city limits of Lincoln. Our office and warehouse sit on 140 undeveloped acres. It just so happens that it's also great deer habitat. They actually have everything they need within those 140 acres. There's food, cover, a wooded creek with running water and the neighboring property has a 25- to 30-acre stand of cedars where no hunting is allowed. This creates a good sanctuary, as well."

TOO LITTLE TIME TO HUNT

If you've ever worked in construction, you know all about the "fall push." Usually coinciding with the best deer hunting of the year, it's when construction crews push hard to finish up all projects for the year. More often than not, employees work from dark to dark six days a week. This push usually begins in late October, and depending on how far north you are, it can last well into December. Once the ground is frozen, work hours, if any, go back to normal.

Being in the landscaping business, every year Jacob experiences this push.

"Undoubtedly, fall is our busiest time of the year," he says. "There's less daylight, so there's less time to get it all done. I also volunteer a couple weekends every year to help with disabled youth hunts. I really enjoy doing that. With my work schedule, I'm left with only a few days to really put in the time for rifle season."

So going into fall 2017, Jacob didn't have a specific buck in mind. "I figured I wouldn't be too picky about what I shot, because it would fill the freezer regardless," he explains.

"We knew there was a giant buck somewhere within the area, because there were a few trail camera photos being shown of that deer," the hunter notes. "All the trail camera photos I saw of the buck had been taken at night, so I figured the deer was completely nocturnal. Besides, I didn't know where the photos had been taken, so I had no idea where the buck lived. I didn't think I had any chance of seeing him, so I didn't give it a second thought."

ONEXPECTED OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

Nov. 12, second day of the '17 firearms season, dawned in typical fashion: cloudy, and with a slight north wind. Jacob was nestled into his stand before first light, carrying his trusty Remington Model 700 chambered in .270 Win.

Just before sunrise, the hunter spotted a lone mature doe. As Jacob watched her pick her way along the creek bed, he wondered if he should shoot her. His work hours were crazy, so hunting time would be very limited. The more he thought about it, the more convincing grew his argument to fill his tag.

The doe was fidgety, and Jacob thought maybe a buck was following her. But after watching for a couple more minutes without seeing any sign of another deer, the hunter decided it was now or never.

Then, just as Jacob began to focus through his scope, he noticed movement out of the corner of his eye. When he turned to see what had caught his attention, he wasn't prepared for what came into view. Standing 125 yards away was the largest whitetail he'd ever seen!

Instantly a surge of adrenaline rushed through the hunter's body. His pulse began to pound in his veins, and his breathing became short and ragged. It was all he could do to fight off buck fever.

"I recognized that deer immediately," Jacob says. "I didn't need a closer look! I knew this had to be the deer from the trail camera photos; there can't be too many deer like him walking around. I knew I had to settle down a bit before taking the shot. I tried focusing on the sweet spot to not get cross-eyed staring at the antlers."

Lining up his shot of a lifetime, Jacob focused the crosshairs on the buck's shoulder and slowly squeezed the trigger. The giant dropped in his tracks.

"I thought I'd been excited before the shot," Jacob says. "But after the shot, I was even more excited! I couldn't believe what had just happened; never in a million years would I have expected to shoot that buck. It was absolutely incredible! I could see his antlers from where I sat, and I just kept telling myself, This thing is a beast! I couldn't wait to get my hands on him."

Jacob climbed out of the stand and began walking toward the downed buck. And te closer he got, the bigger the antlers seemed to be. There would be no ground shrinkage with this one!

But then, as the hunter got to within about 20 yards of his prize, the huge deer suddenly jumped to his feet and ran toward an old bridge that crossed the creek. He actually crossed the bridge, then turned and ran back along the creek, putting him broadside to Jacob. The buck was headed straight toward a new residential area, so Jacob knew he had to make his next shot count. A second round at 25 yards put the monarch down for good.

"The night before, I had shown a picture of the buck to a couple friends and joked this was the buck I was going to get in the morning," Jacob recalls. "I still can't believe this happened. This was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The excitement, the adrenaline, it was all so unbelievable. I wish every hunter could experience this once."

WORLD-CLASS ANTLERS

As the photos show, this buck is truly special; in fact, he'll hang with some of the largest on record.

The "wow" factor on most world-class bucks begins with the typical frame, and this buck has one of the biggest ever. The basic 9-pointer has a gross typical frame measuring 192 7/8 inches, with a net of 180 7/8. The long, upturned beams bring the antlers high off the buck's head, and atop them, points seem to stretch to the sky. (The G-3 tines are the longest on the rack, at 13 3/8 on the right side and 14 3/8 on the left.) Add in 58 3/8 inches of non-typical growth and you get a rack that grosses 251 2/8 and nets 239 2/8.

To give you a better perspective as to the true size of the rack, let's again consider the typical frame. But this time, let's assess it as a pure 4x4, taking off that unmatched G-4. As an 8-pointer, the antlers have a gross typical score of 188 2/8, with an incredible net score of 180 7/8. Only a handful of 4x4s in history have net typical scores of 180. The Gipson buck is truly world class no matter how you look at him.

IN CONCLUSION

A common saying among casual deer hunters is, "You can't eat the antlers." While that's true, I've always held to the belief we're all trophy hunters at heart. I've yet to know a hunter who wouldn't shoot a giant-antlered buck over a doe. I believe every hunter eventually wants at least one big buck to his or her credit. After all, in the words of a trophy-hunting friend, "You can't hang a rump roast on the wall."

BY DAN COLE
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Author:Cole, Dan
Publication:North American Whitetail
Date:Feb 20, 2019
Words:1431
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