Reluctant hunt results in trophy buck

Madison County hunter Jonathan Cleveland almost went back to bed Jan. 15 but now he's happy he sat a stand: He killed this 150-inch 10-point minutes after settling in his tree.

Big Madison County 10-point scores more than 150 inches Boone & Crockett.

When Jonathan Cleveland went to bed on the night of Jan. 15, he had plans to be in a deer stand the following day. However, when he climbed out of bed the next morning, one look outside gave him second thoughts: It was warm, with south-southwest winds gusting to 25 miles per hour. His first instinct was to skip the hunt.

Thankfully for the 33-year-old Canton hunter, he changed his mind at the last minute, went to his hunting spot, climbed into his stand.

Fifteen minutes later, Cleveland was standing over the fallen form of a massive 10-point that has been green scored at more than 150 inches Boone & Crockett.“With it being so warm and the wind blowing, I didn’t think I’d have much chance to see a deer,” Cleveland said. “However, I’m glad I decided to give it a try.”

Cleveland hunts on a 32-acre plot of ground on which he lives, land owned by his father. The small hunk of Madison County real estate has about 15 acres of woods with a small creek meandering through the property plus a small pond.

His ace in the hole, however, is a 100-acre agricultural field that butts up against the property.

“One year the farmer plants soy beans; the next he plants corn,” Cleveland explains. “This past year, corn was the crop, and the deer had plenty of food plus water, so it’s a place that attracts deer.”

Since he is unable to get a tractor across the creek to disk and bush hog, Cleveland plants small, scattered food plots, and he does it the old-fashioned way.

“I take a hand rake, remove the leaves from a spot, stir up the soil and throw out an agricultural mixture of rye and some other stuff,” he explained. “It’s not much, but it’s the best I can do under the circumstances, and the deer use it.”

After shinnying up a tree in his Old Man tree climbing stand, Cleveland settled in with very little optimism because of the breeze and warm temperatures.

But he hardly had time to bemoan his fate before he looked up to see not one but three bucks headed his way.

“I got in the stand at around 6:45 a.m., and at 7 here came a big 10-point buck with a wide rack, an 8-point with a spread of probably 17 inches and a smaller 4-point buck,” Cleveland said. “There was no doubt which one I wanted to shoot – the 10 point, of course – and I watched him stop and freshen a scrape ,and then he turned broadside at 75 yards.”

That’s all the hunter needed.

“I squeezed off a shot with my .30-06 and watched the buck run 50 yards, stop and then turn to face me,” Cleveland said. “I quickly got off another shot, and the buck dropped right there.”

The buck sported a massive rack  that featured an impressive 21 5/8-inch inside spread. Cleveland entered the buck in a big buck contest in Mississippi, and had it rough scored at 153 7/8 inches.

The buck, obviously rutted down, still tipped the scales at  175 pounds.

See more than 140 bucks killed this season in the Nikon Big Buck Contest photo gallery. The contest is closed now, but will begin again in October.

Click here to read stories of some of the biggest bucks killed during the 2011-12 hunting season.

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