An afternoon the wasn"t at first reserved for bowhunting created a result that Phillip Pless won"t quickly forget.


If there’s one enduring lesson from 2020, it’s that household matters. And also for upstate new York bowhunter Phillip Pless, that’s never ever been an ext apparent than as soon as it involves the autumn pursuit that whitetails.

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A disabled veteran from Newfane, N.Y. Who offered in the United claims Navy, Pless experienced all levels of household become vital cog in his recent hunt for a substantial buck ~ above a tiny farm proper 10 mile from Lake Ontario. From his mam to his expanded family to even a late grandfather he never met; all played a crucial role in Pless’ recent bowhunt because that a buck apparently destined because that the upper reaches the the record book.

When the smoke had cleared from his recent outing, the 43-year old bowhunter — who has actually chased deer since he to be 16 and has hunted whitetails with a bow because 2010 — had actually a enormous 5 ½-year-old non-typical that could push up toward state-record condition in the Pope and Young society record book for the realm State.

While he’ll need to wait till the obligated 60-day drying duration is over to find out what the buck’s official score is beforehand next year, the beforehand green numbers on Pless’ Nov. 8 bowkill placed it right into benchmark region at 222 6/8 customs gross and also 213 7/8 inch net.

If the numbers on the Pless buck hold, it stands come wrestle the peak spot far in the archery record publication from a 2011 buck taken in Suffolk ar by Michael Giarraputo. That whitetail score 209 6/8 inch net and also has to be the Pope and also Young society state record non-typical buck ever since.

Until Pless’ current bowhunt, the is. Not negative for a bowhunter that wasn’t even sure if that would have the ability to get out into the woods ~ above the fateful Sunday afternoon.

“I to be at residence watching the youngsters while my wife ran some errands, and also I really had no plans come hunt the day,” said Pless. “Plus, the regional fire firm was having a raffle gun illustration on Facebook and also I type of wanted to clock that along with the bills game.”

But as soon as his mam Elizabeth come home about mid-afternoon — and also with the bills doing well on the gridiron in their ultimate 44-34 victory over the Seattle Seahawks — a beautiful fall afternoon in November showed to it is in too strong a temptation because that the enthusiasm bowhunter.

“Since the Bills were winning, I stated to mine wife, ‘You understand what? I’m walk to go hunting,’” chuckled Pless.

So he conveniently put top top his brand-new birthday present, a pair the LaCrosse rubber boots from his wife, and got pull on in his favourite Realtree edge camouflage. Then Pless do the quick 10-minute journey to the little family farm, hiked come his ladder stand, and also put on a cover scent he relies heavily upon.

“I"ve tried to access my stands prefer the pros do,” stated Pless. “I watch all of the TV shows and shot to clock the wind choose the advantages do. However I likewise put top top a occupation scent top top the bottom of mine boots.”

After law so, he climbed up to see what the afternoon would certainly bring. Hopefully it would supply a opportunity at a bruiser buck the Pless had actually seen for 4 years on his Wildgame innovation trail cameras. Yet despite searching the farm yard regularly, having a couple of the buck’s sheds, and having a farming library of follow camera photos, in the ar sightings to be all however non-existent for the large non-typical.

With any kind of luck, that would change. But after getting settled in roughly mid-afternoon, the very first hour was uneventful as Pless satellite in his stand overlooking the old fruit tree farm yard that is now a mix of uplands, soybean and corn fields, and also scattered woods.


As Pless waited, hoping to see the buck that had actually disappeared native his cameras in recent weeks, the beautiful loss afternoon with mild temperatures and also light winds attracted his wife to the household farm to walk v the couple’s young children — 3-year-old Grace, 2-year-old Liam, and the couple’s soon-to-be-born child Easton.

“After I had been sit in the stand for a small bit, mine wife had actually texted and said that she had come to the farm with the kids,” stated Pless. “She asked if she might walk back that method with the kids. Ns told her yes, however not to come as well far. Once they obtained to a details spot, I’d wave at them.”

But as Pless reduce his cabinet phone earlier into a pocket, he looked up and also had to capture his breath — the huge buck he had watched for four years currently was in the scrub field in former of him through a doe.

“I looked in ~ him through my Vortex binoculars — I usage the 10x42 Diamondback HD collection — to make certain it was him, then ns took couple of pics and sent them to mine wife and also told her not to come ago here because he to be here.”

While the complete details that Pless’ hunt will certainly be saved for a future concern of North American Whitetail magazine, suffice it come say the the bowhunter began a cat-and-mouse game with the large buck the lasted into the final minutes of sunlight. In ~ first, the buck disappeared into the woods if the original doe continued to be in the field. A quick while later, the buck reappeared with a couple of various other does and chased one around briefly together the group slowly progressed in the bowhunter’s direction.

When that seemed favor the bruiser would certainly come no closer, Pless chose to to trust his long hours of practice occupational on the shooting variety this year together he sought to improve his an abilities at much longer distances. Illustration his Hoyt Maxus 31 back, he steadied the vision pin ~ above his Trophy Ridge sight, touched the release, and also let the Easton arrow and Rage broadhead sail downrange towards the buck 40+ yards away.

“As I attracted back, i prayed come God that ns wouldn"t miss and then ns let the arrowhead go,” stated Pless. “He rotate a bit on the shot, but the arrow hit him and also went through the shoulder, wrecking it, and getting lung. The went about 80 yards, stopped about four time — each time I could see blood coming out — and then I witnessed him drop.”


Composing self — Pless admitted he began shaking choose a leaf after he reduced the shot loosened — the archer waited till dark. As he climbed down, the bowhunter ruefully found that in his haste to acquire out that the house and also into his stand, he had left his flashlight at home. After using his mobile light come briefly research the area, Pless retreated to the farm house for a light and also some tracking reinforcements.

“When we got ago down in there, the wasn’t too far from whereby I had actually last seen him,” said Pless. “My arrowhead had gone through the right shoulder and gotten lung.”

With the deer now efficiently recovered, Pless and his family members members couldn’t acquire over how substantial the buck was, both in regards to its antler dimensions and body size.

“He weighed about 250 or 260 prior to we gutted him,” stated Pless. “And he to be bigger (antler wise) 보다 he showed up to be in the trail cam photos i had. The looked large in the pictures, but in person, the was simply huge.”

Pless admitted that he was a tiny befuddled together he went around tagging the animal, obtaining it ar dressed, and loaded up for the ride out.

“I couldn’t really concentrate together I tried come soak it all in,” the laughed. “I even asked someone because that a pen 5 times. Together it transforms out, I had the pen in mine hand all along.”

When you’ve just shot a buck that can be a new archery state document — in the year that the COVID-19 pandemic, no much less — that’s understandable.

Now Pless will certainly sit back and gain fresh venison on the family members dinner table, look forward to the perfect of a pedestal mountain of the buck the is gift done, and also eagerly await the last scoring process in January 2021.

Phillip Pless (left) and his uncle glenn Pless (right) show off a huge brand-new York state usual buck, a record publication certificate, and a photograph of the so late Clarence Pless, every from the year 1942. (Photo courtesy the Philip Pless)

Already, others in his little western new York an ar are nice excited to hear the story and see the picture of this great buck.

“Yeah, my brother told me that this point would walk viral,” said Pless. “And i guess it has, since I’ve even had people strategy me as soon as I’ve been out and about. One to be the various other day in the parking most a gas station. The man looked at me and said ‘Hey, is the you?’ and also I said, ‘What do you mean?’ and then the said, ‘Are you the guy who shooting that big deer?’ as he pulled his call out and showed me a photo of me and also my deer. And I said ‘Yeah, that’s me, I’m the guy!’”

In the meantime, together Pless enjoys his brush with neighborhood fame, he’s additionally filled with gratitude together the season the Thanksgiving approaches. First, for his wife and her day-to-day work indigenous home, along with her likewise trying to aid her husband get into the woods to seek his out passion.

Next Pless is thankful for a host of friends and also family members who have taken an attention in his hobby in addition to helping to traction the buck out, including Kevin Austin, Scott Pipelis, Jason Pless, and also Connor Pless.

And finally, he’s thankful for the storage of among his primary deer-hunting inspirations, the late grand that he never met, Clarence Pless. Year ago, the late hunter to be passionate about his own pursuit of brand-new York’s big whitetails, even taking a record-book huge with a shotgun.

“My grandpa Pless supplied to hunt, however I never obtained to accomplish him due to the fact that he happen away prior to I was born,” stated Phillip. “My grandpa to be a good deer hunter, and last week, mine uncle Glenn offered me some of my grandfather’s stuff because he believed I can like to have actually it. It contained a picture of my grandfather at deer camp with numerous others.”

In that deer camp photograph taken near Greenwood, N.Y., the black and white picture shows number of proud hunters together with several an excellent bucks hanging native the camp’s sagging meat pole. And also the greatest belonged come Clarence, that was additionally 43 at the moment — a substantial typical whitetail place high increase in the new York State huge Buck Club.

He’s heard the story of his grandfather’s love of deer hunting from his dad Bruce, his uncle Glenn, and others — so much so the he felt his grandpa’s presence throughout his current hunt because that a record book giant.

“You know, ns don’t candid know just how to feel about all that this, ns guess it yes, really hasn’t all sunk in yet,” stated Pless. “But it’s been really exciting, and also I’ve been telling others that i think my grandfather was either sitting beside me or was up above watching end me as soon as I shot this deer. That shot his huge buck ago in 1942 in ~ the age of 43 and I shooting mine in ~ 43 — my date of birth was just the other day.”

Proving that even in a time that unprecedented wellness crisis and uncertainty, countless of the things that have actually made ours country an excellent still remain, things prefer hope, family, love, and a desire to get external to see and also experience the an excellent outdoors.

Pless certainly understands, especially this year, a time as soon as the coronavirus has devastated his residence state.

“I understand it’s been poor here,” stated Pless. “But i don"t know anybody who has obtained it and also suffered from the — at the very least no one in my family, give thanks to the Lord.”

Whatever else human being remember the year 2020 for, Pless will constantly remember it for something wonderful and grand every time he looks in the antlered direction of a certain huge buck he dreamed of tagging for several years. In the end, it was a deer that lived as much as the hype, in the passionate bowhunter’s mind at least.

“It is the buck of a lifetime,” agreed Pless.

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In a year the will never be forgotten. May every one of us together hunters be so blessed in the loss of 2020 as we head come the woods v the hope for a huge buck, an excellent health, and the love that family and also friends tucked far in our back pocket.