HARD Work Pays Off - BIGTIME

It's official! - South Dakota will has a new state record typical whitetail!

Measured on January 20th by SD official B&C and P&Y measurers Stan Rauch and Craig Oberle, the mega-buck taken by Eureka, SD bowhunter Mike Mettler on Nov. 17, 2014 in McPherson County.  It scores 194 1/8 - surpassing the current SD state archery record of 182  7/8 by a large margin.  It also surpasses the current SD state firearm record set in 1948 in Sanborn County of 193 2/8 - making it the largest typical whitetail ever taken by a hunter in SD.

I got the chance to talk with Mike this morning, and he shared with me the story of this incredible buck:

"Last year because of work, I didn't get the chance to do much hunting - in fact I didn't even get my cameras out and only made it out twice.  Needless to say, I had not heard this guy was around!  I was half-way through rifle season when a guy stopped me and asked if I was after the "big buck".  I didn't even know he existed although it seemed others knew that one was coming into my cornfield often.  I hunted for him the rest of rifle season and only saw him once on our neighbors property where I did not have permission to hunt.

After season, I saw the buck briefly with a set of does, and knew that he had survived the hunting season.  

This year I set the cameras out early and patterned him coming into our food plot if not every night, then every other night.  This was surprising because he was coming out of some great cover on the other property where I didn't have permission.  

Opening Pheasant, I spent the whole day in the treestand knowing that everyone in the area would be hunting - in hopes that he got busted out and would run by my food plot and water hole.  Unfortunately, I did not see a single deer that day.  Over the next few weeks, I only occasionally saw the buck - once on a foggy day with a few does, and once he ran with a big 3 point but I could not get closer than 150 yds.  I kept on him and kept watching the cameras - which showed him moving between midnight and four in the morning with the exception of the day my daughter was born - October 29th.  On that day my cameras caught him coming by my stand during the last 15 minutes of shooting light.  Seeing the photos, I thought I had missed my shot at this buck.

The day that my wife and I came home from the hospital at noon, and by 2 I was sitting back in the stand.  I knew I was pushing things, but my wife was gracious and I was able to continue the hunt.  For the next 5 or 6 days, I saw no sign of him out in the field, nor on camera.  At that point I figured he had either moved out of the area or someone had taken him.

The last week before rifle season, having not heard of anyone taking the buck, I decided to stick with it and if I didn't see him, I'd try again during rifle season.  

On I went in, I had pulled the card from the camera and climbed into the tree stand but it was pretty breezy.  The watering hole that I hunted over was froze up and I thought that unless they were rutting and came by the stand, there was no reason for them to get near enough for a shot.  So, I decided to stalk through the food plot.  

Once I got out past the roller, there was a doe out at about 50 yds.  As I looked, about 4 rows over and 15 yds closer I saw the top of a rack.  The buck was bedded down in the food plot that was thick with the regrowth from the year prior.  He was bedded in a section thick as cattails.  Thinking that I wouldn't mind getting a little closer, I was wary because of the doe that every once in a while looked my way as she chewed on some corn.  

Not wanting to get busted, I sat for what felt like an eternity, but was actually probably closer to 40 minutes.  At that point the doe started to walk away which caused the buck to stand up.  THAT was when the buck fever kicked into high gear!  I'm not real sure how I got my release hooked onto my loop, but upon releasing the arrow I heard the WHACK and I tried to look through my binoculars, but quite honestly, at that point I couldnt even look through them - I was shaking so bad!    

I waited what felt like forever and then began looking.  He wasn't bleeding that much - only spots here and there which made it hard to determine which way he had gone.  I looked and looked in the food plot, and could not find the buck.  I finally got back in the pickup and drove around the section thinking he might have run out into a cut section.  At one point I saw a buck out to the south with a bunch of does - and he seemed to be humped up.  My stomach turned thinking I might have hit him too far back, so I figured I'd have to wait until morning and then come get him.  As I watched, however I realized that it was not my buck.

Again I walked the food plot for about 40 minutes hoping I had overlooked him but still could not locate him.  After 40 minutes of searching I came across a couple specks of blood that looked like they indicated he had headed to the East.  Out to the East, we have a cut cornfield so I headed out.  

As I came up over a little rise, I finally saw him!  Laying there dead, I saw why there had been so little blood.  My quartering shot had hit the far shoulder blade and had stopped the arrow from passing through.  

I didn't know whether to be excited or relieved.  The buck that had absolutely consumed me for over two years was at my feet.  My wife was VERY, VERY understanding - especially with my little one being born!  Having spent what I figure was over 180 hours in the stand in a months time, I know there was some luck in the process but it did take a lot of work.  Our neighbors had the buck on camera as much or more than I did, and the buck had been bedding on their property,.  They also had food plots, but it seemed the buck went where the does went and on that day, it was my food plot.  The day of pheasant opener, my neighbor had even had the buck at 70 yds, but it wouldn't get closer for a presentable shot - and of course I'm glad he didn't!

I knew the buck was big, but I would have never guessed he was that big.  In the end, I was glad the buck had made it another year, because if had I had the opportunity to take him last year, I defintely would have!"

A great big THANK YOU goes out to Mike's wife Liza, their 3 yr old daughter Maycee, and their newborn daughter Sadie for allowing Mike to put in the time it took to harvest this great buck.  Not only does it give us an example of what preparation, diligence and self-restraint in the field looks like, but it showcases to the world the truly magnificant bucks and the world class hunters that South Dakota contains.  Welcome to the history books Mike!

Mike is currently having the buck mounted by Lance Burns wiuth Lone Wolf Tannery & Burns Taxidermy out of Frederick SD.

Mettler Buck Official Measurements:

Gross Score:  209 7/8

Net Score:  194 1/8

Right Antler:

  • Number of Points: 6
  • Abnormal Points: 1 1/8
  • Length of Main Beam: 27 1/8
  • G-1 Length: 7 2/8
  • G2 Length: 15 3/8
  • G-3 Length: 14 4/8
  • G-4 Length: 10 4/8
  • H-1 (Circumference at Smallest Place Between Burr and First Point): 5 6/8
  • H-2 (Circumference at Smallest Place Between First and Second Points): 5 1/8
  • H-3 (Circumference at Smallest Place Between Second and Third Points): 5 2/8
  • H-4 (Circumference at Smallest Place Between Third and Fourth Points): 4 3/8

Left Antler:

  • Number of Points: 7
  • Abnormal Points: 3 1/8
  • Length of Main Beam: 26 7/8
  • G-1 Length: 7 3/8
  • G2 Length: 12 0/8
  • G-3 Length: 14 2/8
  • G-4 Length: 11 3/8
  • G-5 Length: 5 4/8
  • H-1: 5 6/8
  • H-2: 4 7/8
  • H-3: 5 6/8
  • H-4: 4 6/8


  • Abnormal Points:  4 2/8
  • Length of Main Beam: 2/8
  • G-1: 1/8
  • G-2: 3 3/8
  • G-3: 2/8
  • G-4: 7/8
  • G-5: 5 4/8
  • H-1: -
  • H-2: 2/8
  • H-3: 4/8
  • H-4: 3/8

Spread Credit: 16 1/8

Right Antler: 95 2/8

Left Antler: 98 4/8

GROSS: 209 7/8

Deductions: 15 6/8

FINAL Net Score: 194 1/8

Columnist: Jason Boke

Jason founded SouthDakotaHunting.com in 2010 in an effort to help hunters and outfitters from across South Dakota share stories and photos with hunting enthusiasts nationwide. As a fourth generation South Dakotan and an avid hunter, writer, and technology junkie, he utilizes this website to help promote ethical hunting values, support and promote South Dakota based hunting businesses and ensure that hunting traditions are passed on to future generations.

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