by Eric Hall
The story starts in 2015 when the buck was an eight point. Charles first encountered the buck during the Ohio archery season. “The buck came in along with a three-point. The three-point challenged him and he backed down,” Cassinelli said.Charles Cassinelli had a fantastic 2017 Ohio gun season. Armed with 2 years of history, Charles harvested his largest buck to date and he accomplished this while hunting on public land.
In 2016, Cassinelli again encountered the buck during archery season. This time the buck came off of the hill only to loop around his stand location. Charles’ son also encountered the buck this year. The deer offered his son a shot opportunity. At the shot, the buck ducked the arrow causing a clean miss. With no further sightings in 2016, Cassinelli set his sights on the following season.
“I started running cameras on trails in June hoping he was still alive, ” Cassinelli explained. “I spent a lot of time shooting my bow during the offseason along with scouting as the season came closer,” he said. Charles didn’t know it at the time, but his efforts were about to pay off in a very big way.
|Photo courtesy of Charles Cassinelli
Opening day of the 2017 archery season, the buck made an appearance again but Cassinelli didn’t have a shot. Charles hunted through October and November without seeing the buck again. Looking to regroup, Charles went to deer camp in Pennsylvania for the opening 2 days of gun season. Pennsylvania’s firearms opening week mirrors Ohio, so, he would be skipping out on hunting this buck while focusing his efforts in PA.
Wednesday, November 29th, found Cassinelli back in his home state of Ohio and back on familiar ground. “I had a positive feeling that day. I knew it was the day,” Charles said. The calm evening had his spirits high as he slipped into the small valley. The property sets up as a typical hub location with 4 small valleys converging into a larger valley. The ridges have both red and white oaks providing an abundance of food. Charles chose to set up in the second valley because the green underbrush is young and thick providing cover and browse for the whitetails.
Using his climbing stand, Charles climbed into his tree and settled in for the hunt. “I had been in the stand about 2 hours when I heard a crashing noise about 125 yards to my left in the valley. I looked and caught the top of a beam, but that was all I could see because of the thick cover,” explained Cassinelli. “I honestly thought it was a huge spike that I had been seeing in the area,” Charles said.
|Photo courtesy of Charles Cassinelli
The buck continued closer and the hunter realized that this was no spike and readied for a shot. “He got to about 90 yards and a squirrel threw a nut down, it sounded like it bounced off of a tree and the buck froze,” he explained. Knowing the deer was on high alert, Charles kept his composure, not wanting to spook the deer with movement in the tree. “He started moving again and when he hit 65 to 70 yards, that same squirrel started barking at him and he froze again,” he said. The deer calmed down and continued closer to the stand. When the buck was at 50 yards, Cassinelli slowly shouldered his rifle, squeezed the trigger, and let the 245 grain Hornady .44 magnum fly. “At 50 yards I shot and he went straight down. It was the first time ever that a deer when straight down when I shot,” he explained.
According to Charles the buck was at least a four-year-old, eight point and weighed over 200 pounds; easily his largest buck ever. After the recovery, the excitement overtook the veteran hunter. “I had buck fever in my photo with the deer,” Cassinelli laughed.
Congratulations, Charles, on a well-deserved Ohio public land harvest.