December 15, 2022
After beginning with the Dustin Huff buck, we continue our look at some of the best bucks of the 2021 season with another giant — this time a buck of the non-typical variety.
Sooner State Bruiser — Zach Meadows
Although Zach Meadows of Oklahoma took his 2021 buck — a non-typical that ended up scoring close to 200 inches — on his first day afield last year, it was a deer that was actually more than a quarter-century in the making. You see, back in 1995, Meadows started leasing land adjacent to the family’s property, beginning the long process of transforming it into a wildlife and deer paradise.
Over the years, Meadows has worked extensively on the Logan County property, removing patches of cedar trees, conducting controlled burns, restoring native grasses and putting in food plots. He has also connected with adjacent landowners, encouraging them to let younger bucks walk in an effort to produce more mature antlered deer.
“Back when we got (the lease), to see a deer with antlers was a rare thing,” Meadows said. “I went several years without ever seeing a buck, and we really turned it around just managing it right, learning as we go.”
Two years ago, Meadows discovered a promising buck that might be worth targeting in a year or two, picking it up on trail cameras a couple of times before the deer seemed to disappear. At the beginning of the 2021 season, however, he started to see it again and moved his cameras around to zero-in on the best location to try and set up on the deer for a shot in daylight.
“Once we figured out the trail he was using the most, we were getting somewhat consistent pictures of him in the daylight,” Meadows said. “The only problem: the trail he was using was 61 yards from my stand. There really wasn’t a way to get closer unless we used a ground blind, but we didn’t want to spook him.”
Although Meadows really wanted his 12-year-old son Logan to get the first shot at the buck, Logan was worried about shooting 60 yards, especially since he was using a 42-pound-draw bow and was a relatively new bowhunter. The pair discussed the situation off and on for a few weeks, but when the time arrived to make a move — with both the weather and wind conditions ideal — Logan decided it wasn’t worth the gamble.
So, on Nov. 3, Meadows got into his stand well before daylight, observing several quality bucks during his sit. He returned to the same spot that evening and started seeing deer shortly after settling into the stand. Then, just before 5 p.m., a big non-typical they’d named ‘Junk’ appeared on the scene, scattering a group of small bucks that was in the area.
“It was very hard not to send an arrow as it would have been the biggest deer by far that I’d ever shot,” said Meadows of the deer, which he estimates would have scored in the 180s. “I watched him for a few minutes and I was starting to think it was a mistake to pass this deer up, so I texted my son, ‘Junk is here and I think I’m going to take him.’”
Logan immediately texted his father back and encouraged him to hold out for the bigger buck. Meadows did so, and he was rewarded for his patience when another deer showed up only a short time later.
“I caught a glimpse of antlers moving towards me and I knew it was him,” Meadows said. “I watched the two biggest deer I’ve ever seen in my life face off in front of me; my heart was pounding and I just knew the deer could hear it.”
As Meadows had suspected, the big buck he was after remained about 60 yards out from his stand. The deer, however, offered a good broadside shot, so he let loose an arrow from his Mathews V3X. The buck ran out of sight and Meadows reached out to Logan, who then joined him to look for the animal.
“We tracked him together for about 50 yards and I saw his rack sticking up above the grass,” Meadows recalled. “It was awesome being able to share my excitement with my son.”
Meadows had his deer officially scored as a non-typical, with the 17-pointer coming in at 196 6/8 inches net, making it one of the largest bucks ever taken with a bow in Oklahoma. Thinking back, Meadows says the biggest reason he was able to get a shot at the deer was that the family — he has four sons who hunt — severely limits the amount of time it spends hunting on the property. While they used to get out as much as possible, nowadays they wait until wind and hunting conditions are as close to perfect as possible.
“We didn’t realize how much we were pressuring (the deer),” he said. “We had a ton of stands up and we’d rotate them. We’ve learned a lot these past three years. We’ve really tried to stay out of there, and a lot of times we’ll just hunt a stand once or twice a year and it’s paid off. It’s just been amazing.”
Check in with bowhuntingmag.com again from now until Christmas, as we showcase more of 2021's top bow-killed bucks.