One well-placed shot brought down the biggest buck that Oak Lake hunter, Cody Denbow, has ever shot. “This will be the biggest deer I’ve taken, either by rifle or by bow. They don’t come along very often.”
Denbow is a keen bow hunter, a marksman with over 30 years of hunting experience. His whitetail buck, with antlers measured as a ‘typical’ at 181 4/8 inches, has caught the attention of Big Buck magazine, a hunting publication with a readership throughout North America.
In Bow hunting season, on Aug. 28, it was just the second day of the season and Denbow knew the buck that he was after.
“I knew he was there. I had a few pictures of him and knew where he was living,” he says of the buck.
Getting out there before the end of August meant a chance to harvest a deer with velvet still on.
Bucks in velvet are living in bachelor groups and don’t travel too far. They feed at night or evening, within a limited territory. As soon as they shed their velvet they become more nocturnal, and travel farther.
Denbow is a studied, observant hunter, not just in hunting season. He’s an outdoorsman who began hunting as early in life as he could lawfully do so.
Collecting the shed antlers in the spring, Denbow says this was one of the biggest he’d seen in his years of hunting. The antlers of a mature buck.
“I do a lot of bow hunting, watching the deer in my area. If I don’t get the particular deer I’m hunting then I like to collect ‘sheds’ off him, and watch him grow up.”
The shot that killed the big deer he was stalking, one he named ‘Picket’, was the shot every hunter hopes for.
“It’s a quick clean kill. If you are shooting a heavy arrow with a sharp end, they (the deer) actually don’t know what happened. It’s less traumatic than a gun shot. It’s a sharp cut. They just go down right away, with a well placed shot.”
He waited in the tree stand, in the evening, about 40 minutes before dark. It had been raining that day but by late-day the rain stopped.
“This group of bucks got up and they filed past my stand… probably heading toward the cropped fields to graze.
“At 18 yards [away], I had to let him come by my stand. There were three other bucks with him that walked pretty much under my tree stand. I had to let him get far enough away that I had the broad shot and the right angle, not shooting down."
Denbow’s big buck has drawn attention from several other publications. The 36-year-old hunter has been asked what he is going to do to top this.
He matter-of-factly states, “I just hunt the biggest mature deer I can find in my area, any given year. I target a specific animal.
“I’ve passed up a lot of animals, nice bucks. Some that people would be pretty happy to get, but I know there’s something bigger out there. So I wait.”
Big Game Illustrated was also interested in the story of the bow hunter and his now famous buck, taken in the Oak Lake area – “At hidden valley by secret creek.”
Denbow explains this is the largest velvet buck entered into the Manitoba record books and may even be the largest typical (meaning even and regular horn growth) buck in rifle or bow season.