LOGAN, W.Va. — The quest technically started four years ago for Ethan McCallister when he noticed a new buck on his trail camera.
“I’ve had pictures of him since 2009. He was about about a 125 or 130 inch eight-point then,” said McCallister who is from Logan. “It was late December and when I first clicked on my camera and saw him for the first time. I just thought ‘New Boy’ since he was new.”
McCallister gives nicknames to all of the bucks he pursues and “New Boy” became the identity of the massive buck McCallister killed last month just as the rut kicked into high gear in Logan County.
“I kept letting him walk. In 2010, he blew up to about a 140 inch ten point and I could have killed him that year too, but I let him go that year because I had another deer I was after,” said McCallister in an interview for Ram Trucks West Virginia Outdoors on a Logan County mountain top working with some bear dogs.
Over the last few years McCallister had passed on “New Boy” in order to put “Peg Leg” and “Twizzler” on his den wall. Last year he only got a few pictures of “New Boy” but when he started his 2013 scouting he found “New Boy” again a fair distance from his original stomping ground. McCallister noticed the massive buck in a new area on the other side of the hollow he hunts and figured he had nailed down his pattern.
“I went and hung a stand when I figured out where he was staying and I never did hunt it. I stayed out of there until the rut started and I slipped in there November 13th,” McCallister said.
It didn’t take long for “New Boy” to make his presence known. All morning, McCallister had been observing smaller bucks under his stand grunting and rutting. About 10:15 he first saw the deer come around the ridge on a haul road chasing a doe.
“I heard a buck grunt and I thought it was one of those little bucks and didn’t pay much attention,” he recalls. “It was hard to see because it was so thick, when he looked down in the hollow I thought it might be a pretty nice eight point, but when he turned to face me that’s when my heart started pounding like a drum line.”
The adrenalin rush was prompted by a massive ten point rack staring him squarely in the eye at 30-yards. The moment intensified as the buck started walking toward him.
“I drew back as he started turning broadside at 20-yards and he bumped a doe over the hill. I was at full draw and he turned and walked closer and I knew he was going to head over the hill after that doe,” McCallister explained. “At 15 yards he made a scrape and when he finished he started over the hill and I shot him at the last moment before he went over the hill.”
The big buck headed down hill, but made a turn back into some thick cover. McCallister did what most hunters would do after placing a perfect shot on a massive buck… he called his buddy.
“I called my buddy Chase Rice and I didn’t know he’d answered the phone yet,” laughed McCallister. “He said all he could hear was me saying, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.’”
McCallister left the woods, changed out of his hunting clothes, and returned with Rice to track the massive whitetail. The deer’s trail turned back in toward some thick brush. McCallister crawled on his hands and knees along the thinning blood trail and came out the other side to the sight of his life.
“As soon as I got through the other side it was laying there. When we walked up on it, we were pretty much speechless.” he said.
A taxidermist aged the deer at six and a half years old. The green score on the rack was 180 Pope and Young gross, but the net score was 171 after deductions. Faults on the buck’s G2 and G4 antlers dropped it from a potential state record. The West Virginia record for a typical whitetail buck is 175 6/8ths killed in Logan County by Mark Lester. Pope and Young rules require the rack to dry for a period of 60 days before the score can me done officially. Occasionally shrinkage will occur during the drying period. The 171 score would place it just outside of the top five.
However, “New Boy” became the biggest buck McCallister had ever killed. It’s a story he’ll tell for many years, and one which was four years in the making.