Sometimes when outdoorsmen share tales about their big hunts, the stories get exaggerated over the months and years.
When Francis resident Larry Wheeler tells folks about the one-week deer-hunting experience he had last month, there won’t be any need for embellishment.
Wheeler killed two monster bucks with more than 200 inches of antlers just eight days apart in the exact same spot — a pecan grove a mile and a half east of Francis. Most avid hunters won’t even see a buck with that kind of rack, much less harvest one.
“To me, it’s extremely rare to even see a deer that size in Oklahoma, especially in this part of the country. Then, to actually harvest one and then a week later get another one, is even more rare,” Wheeler told The Ada News.
The first big buck Wheeler harvested had a green score of 206-4/8 with 25 scorable points on his antlers. When Wheeler returns to the exact same spot, he nabbed another trophy buck that measured 202-1/8 with 34 scorable points.
“I never even thought about getting one (that size) and two never even crossed my mind. It was the first time I’ve seen bucks that size,” he said.
The 55-year-old hunter said he was in his ladder stand when the first buck he harvested surprised him.
“I was watching two large bucks come into the field from a long way off. Then the one I shot came from under the stand and headed toward those other bucks. It scared me,” he said. “I had no idea anything else was around me because I was focused on those two deer, trying not to spook them. He was on a mission to cut them off. That’s what inspired me to bring a decoy when I came back, and it worked. I was really amazed.”
A friend of Wheeler’s who owns Bryant, Pecans & Herefords, encourages him to hunt and bag as many deer as allowed on his property every year because of the damage they do to trees in his pecan grove. This year, the giant bucks have destroyed even more trees than usual.
“In that pecan grove, the trees aren’t that big, and they had been tearing them up. Some of them were just above the ground, and others they tore the limbs off of them. They destroyed about 25 of those new pecan trees,” he explained. “I’ve culled out a lot of little deer out of there for years. Over the last five years, I’ve seen larger ones come in that were really nice bucks, but nothing like what came in this year. It was unreal.”
When the news quickly spread about Wheeler’s big fete, was been bombarded with texts from friends and outdoor media wanting to tell his story. He’s been contacted by several state newspapers, a Canadian hunting magazine, North American Whitetail Magazine, Rack Magazine and Hunt Talk TV, just to name a few.
What’s even more impressive is that Wheeler harvested both bucks with his crossbow during archery season. He said the property features two miles of river frontage that makes it even more difficult.
“When the landowner told me they were tearing the trees up, I had put game cameras up and I sure wasn’t expecting to see what I got pictures of. I knew they were out there. Trying to hunt them in such a big open field was a challenge,” he explained. “They can come in and out wherever they want to. It makes it very difficult to hunt — especially when you’re trying to bow hunt.”
Wheeler, who retired last year from the Oklahoma Army National Guar, as a sergeant-major after 36 years of service, will spend the remainder of hunting season bagging does to donate to families in need.
“I always try to harvest some extra does to feed people that need the meat. That’s something I’ve done for years,” he said.
Meanwhile, his wife, Minisa, is on the lookout for another monster buck he’s seen on camera prowling around the pecan grove. She has already harvested a 14-point buck of her own.
“She was tickled. We’re hoping she sees that other big one,” he said.