Photos courtesy of Myles Tomsche
Myles Tomsche finally caught up to the massive Whitetail to which he dedicated his deer season
Buck Score: 195 4/8 inches (about 202 inches without broken points)
Date of Harvest: December 6, 2020
Location of Harvest: Stearns County, Minnesota
Weapon of Harvest: Muzzleloader
Some hunters have multiple years of history with the bucks they kill. But Myles Tomsche never knew of this 5½-year-old buck until the 2020 season. In mid-October, he spotted the deer about 200 yards away while bowhunting.
“I was bowhunting with my brother-in-law, Justin, and told him I had seen the biggest buck of my life, and the hunt was on,” he said. “I did not see that deer anymore while bowhunting. During this time, I had not seen him again.”
Later in the season, his brother-in-law shot a good nine-pointer. While dressing it, he said Tomsche was hunting a ghost. Still, Tomsche was holding out hope for the big deer. “I liked that name, so I nicknamed the buck ‘Ghost’,” he said. “It was like he vanished.”
The habitat is good in that area, though, so Tomsche expected the buck to stick around. “The terrain is fairly flat. There are some small hills. There are swamps spread throughout with thick buck brush around them,” he explained. “The whole land has many native grasses growing with much cover. All the way around the property are acres of farmland.”
Then, in early November, Tomsche saw the buck chasing a doe; there was no shot opportunity, though. He continued hunting the big deer and decided to continue passing good bucks in hopes of tagging Ghost. Still, even though he encountered the deer a couple more times, shotgun season passed without an opportunity at the deer.
Muzzleloader season started and he passed on opportunities at a couple of nice eight-pointers. One morning, he even spotted Ghost. The deer appeared 200 yards away and walked to within 140 yards. Confident in his abilities, Tomsche settled in and took the shot with his muzzleloader.
“Ghost jumped up into the air and ran off in the direction he came from,” he said. “I stayed in the stand for a while, called my wife and my brother-in-law, and told them that I had taken a shot at Ghost, and that the deer acted like I had hit him. I waited for a couple of hours and then went to look for blood. I searched around in the area he had run to but could not find any blood, hair or any sign that I had connected.” While searching, he spooked a group of deer that ran off. One was Ghost, who didn’t appear to be injured. Tomsche called it a day.
On December 6, he went hunting again with his brother-in-law. “I walked in with my brother-in-law and walked past his stand to take a roundabout way toward the stand that Ghost walked by the last time I shot at him,” he said. “I got into the stand about 30 minutes before legal shooting time and got situated for the hunt. I heard something from behind me in the buck brush. I saw a dark figure come out but could not tell what it was.
“It was still 20 minutes until legal light,” he continued. “With it being so dark, I could not even tell at 60 yards that it was him. Using my binoculars, I could see that he had antlers, but still could not see how big. Luckily, Ghost turned and walked parallel to my stand at about 80 yards. I watched him for the full 20 minutes with my binoculars trying to tell if it was him, continuously wiping my binoculars off because of the fog and mist. Finally, the deer stopped and lifted his head and I knew it was a good buck.”
It had to be Ghost. Once legal light started, Tomsche decided to take the 80-yard shot. “I got my gun ready, kneeled down, placed my gun on the railing, steadied myself, and took aim,” he said. “I had to wipe my scope off twice with it fogging up. Then, I squeezed the trigger, and a big puff of smoke came out. With that and the fog, I did not know if I had hit Ghost or if he ran off. All I knew is that I could hear crashing through the trees.”
About 30 minutes later, Tomsche descended the treestand and searched for signs of a hit. Despite a half hour of looking around, he couldn’t find blood. Eventually, Justin arrived to help. They scanned for another 30 minutes or so with no luck. In hopes that the deer didn’t start bleeding immediately, they pushed toward the direction where the buck ran. They were about 10 yards apart and walking in the same direction when Justin looked over at him.
“Myles,” he said.
“What?” Tomsche replied.
“I found blood,” Justin said with a grin.
“Where?” he responded.
Justin just looked at him, and then pointed dead ahead.
“My heart must have raced a thousand miles an hour,” Tomsche recalled. “There between us laid Ghost. I could not see his front half since a tree was in the way. I curled around the tree to see better and realized that it was him. Trail camera photos and sightings from a distance did not do him justice. He was more massive and had more points than I thought. The hunt was finally over. I finally caught up to Ghost.”
After 25 days of hunting, the journey ended, and Ghost laid at Tomsche’s feet. Altogether, he had six encounters with the deer. The final one resulted in a happy ending for Tomsche that day.
“I was so close to getting Ghost a few different times that it was hard to sleep at night,” he said. “Justin and I were pretty much speechless when we finally found Ghost. I even gave Justin a big bear hug. Everyone was very excited and wanted to see this deer.”
“This deer means a lot to me,” Tomsche said. “I spent a lot of time hunting him and let a lot of nice bucks go that without a doubt would have been some of my best bucks, he continued. “I never imagined that I would ever see a deer this big. I do not believe that I will ever see another like him. It was a great and fun hunt. I was blessed to have the opportunity to hunt and finally harvest this deer.”
Whitetail Lab: Big Buck Tactics
Hunting Whitetails involves many different facets of knowledge. It’s a discipline that we never completely master, but hopefully continue to improve on as time progresses. That includes tactically speaking and with mental toughness, too.
Myles Tomsche certainly improved in both areas, since when he missed his initial opportunity as this massive Whitetail, he kept after it. Not only did he toughen his mind and continue to hunt, he also made the next shot count. He was ready and prepared.
He also listened to his gut. After realizing the first shot wasn’t mortal, Tomsche knew the deer would likely return (which commonly occurs with deer that survive misplaced shots). He went back to where the buck felt safe and then capitalized on a second-chance shot opportunity.
When blood-trailing the deer, Tomsche and company had a difficult time finding blood. They searched in the initial area of the hit for quite some time. Then, they pushed slightly ahead in the direction the deer ran. Doing this allowed them to pick up blood when they otherwise might not have if they had stayed at the impact site. Sometimes it can be more productive to push ahead when blood is sparse. The blood trail can get either better or worse during the tracking process.