Scott Fowler's Buck -
The Complete Story
(Perhaps no other whitetail in recent
history has stirred as much interest in hunting circles as the Fowler buck has. Read on to relive the exciting hunt for
this trophy Missouri buck!)
by: TONY KALNA Jr.
Rumors of a possible
new state record bow-kill typical began flooding the internet when the story of
a non-resident hunter who shot a giant typical whitetail from a public hunting
area in northwest Missouri first appeared in a Chillicothe, MO newspaper in
September 2004. The hype about this
possible new record book buck grew even larger when a
of the monster whitetail appeared in the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC)
publication, the Missouri Conservationist.
Could someone have
actually beaten the 191 4/8-inch state record typical bow-kill taken by Aaron
McCauley from St. Louis County in 1999?
With all of the gossip floating around about the Fowler buck it seemed as
so it was going to happen. In fact,
there was more excitement and rumors being passed around about the Fowler buck
than there was for the McCauley buck taken six years ago.
Not many folks in
Missouri know who Scott Fowler is because he resides in Pensacola, Florida.
After some investigative reporting I tracked Fowler down in Las Vegas, Nevada
where he had last been working.
Here’s the real story on the Fowler buck straight from the horse’s mouth,
so to speak.
“I am a bow-hunter not
an archer,” Fowler said. “There’s a big difference between hitting a target on
the range and a whitetail in the woods.”
Fowler travels across
the country working as a union electrician. When he’s not busy on a job somewhere he
is concentrating his efforts on scouting or hunting whitetail deer.
Scott Fowler killed
his first deer with a bow and arrow from a tree-stand in Florida at the early
age of 12. He has been bow-hunting
whitetails ever since for the past 30-years.
Fowler comes from a family
rich in tradition of bow-hunting and archery. His father, Ed Fowler, was one of the
four founding members of Florida’s Panhandle Bowhunter’s Club in Pensacola back
in the early 1960s. Ed Fowler even
bow-hunted with the famous Fred Bear on St. Vincent Island.
Scott’s mother, Janet
Fowler, has also made her mark in the archery world. Janet took second place as the Women’s
National 3D Champion in 1967 and is also in the Florida archery hall of fame.
Fowler’s father and
mother both continue to hunt to this day at the ages of 70 and 67
respectively. “Mom and Dad hope to
make it to Missouri this fall with their crossbows,” Fowler said. “Hopefully they’ll get a chance at a big
Missouri deer too.”
first began hunting deer in Missouri while working on a job at a casino in
Kansas City in 1996. His search for
a place to bow-hunt trophy class whitetails led him to lands north of the
found a promising place to hunt in Livingston County. The first year he hunted the property he
arrowed a 130-inch, P&Y class 10-pointer. He was now hooked on Show-Me State deer
hunting but little did he know he was well on his way to instant fame in
whitetail hunting circles in Missouri.
While bow-hunting in
Missouri in 1999, his fourth year of deer hunting the Show-Me State, Fowler met
Aaron McNabb of Independence, MO.
The two bow-hunters began hunting together and have been friends ever
McNabb owns a
small tract of ground in Livingston County where Fowler parks his travel trailer
while hunting. The trailer becomes
the home base camp for the two hunters throughout the season.
Fowler first found
evidence of a big trophy class typical in 2000. The tell-tale signs left behind
by the buck were a set of shed antlers from the previous year. The sheds were estimated to score in the
140s. This is what he had been
hoping for, a chance at a buck that had the potential to make the record
Fowler first saw the
buck that had lost those antlers the following year with a rack which was
estimated to score in the 160s.
Fowler was able to determine the buck used a very small core area that
was hard to get to. Once the
hunting season rolled around, the shy trophy class whitetail became even more
elusive than usual.
Fowler’s big buck was
nowhere to be seen in 2002 or 2003 and Fowler himself was losing hope that the
buck was still alive.
In July 2004, the buck
made its presence known on two different occasions. Both times Fowler was pre-season
scouting and was armed with a video camera. The buck was in a field about 400-yards
away while the excited bow-hunter filmed the footage.
Fowler had a lot to be
excited about, not only did he learn that
the buck he had been hunting for several seasons was still alive, but he
also found out that Missouri had changed the opening date of its bow-hunting
season from Oct. 1 to Sept. 15.
This early opening date meant that Fowler would be able to hunt this
elusive buck while it was still on a feeding pattern and before it became so
“I was really looking
forward to the early season opener,” Fowler said. “This buck became extremely elusive
during the hunting season and I knew I would have my best chance at him on an
Fowler did not want to
actually get into the woods just prior to opening day and do any scouting that
could possibly spook the buck from its normal routine. However, he did know that there was one
soybean field that was planted a little later than the others and was still
green compared to the others who had already turned yellow. This green, soy-bean field would be the
place he would try and kill the giant whitetail.
awaited opening day but was disappointed to discover that the wind was simply
wrong to hunt the green field, so he had to set up stand somewhere else for two
days before the wind direction changed.
On day four of the
season, Fowler made his way into the soybeans for an evening hunt. He would be hunting from the ground and
cleared out a place in the weeds at the edge of where a CRP field joined the
“I scratched out a
place in the field by a bush and put my fold-up chair there,” Fowler said. “I made it a point to position my chair
to where I wouldn’t be able to see a deer until it was at least 10-yards out
into the field.”
Fowler said that it
has been his experience that big buck entering a field will stop just before it
enters the open area and stand there for 10 minutes or so examining its
surroundings for danger.
“I believe that deer
can sense things such as hunters looking at them,” Fowler said. “I’ve noticed this several times so I
was going to make sure that when and if this buck came into the field that it
wouldn’t sense me.”
Fowler placed his
ground chair near where he found the shed antlers. This is the general location that he
determined to be the trophy buck’s core area. At first the wind was swirling in the
wrong direction and Fowler thought that he might have to abandon his prime
hunting spot. However, as the
evening wore on, the wind currents and fate turned in favor of the hunter.
spotted two deer about 70 yards out into the beans with their heads down
feeding. One of the deer turned out
to be a nice 8 pointer but when the other deer raised its head he knew that he
was the closest he had ever been to the trophy whitetail he had been hunting for
“If I had never seen
this big buck before I probably would have had an “accident” on the spot,”
Fowler jokingly admitted. “That
buck in those beans was a magnificent sight to behold.”
The massive buck
finally made its way closer to the bow-hunter and turned broadside at a distance
of 48-yards. The deer didn’t appear
to be getting any closer so while the giant buck had its head down in the beans,
Fowler drew back his Hoyt Defiance Supreme compound and released an aluminum
arrow at the deer.
“The buck just trotted
off with the impact of the arrow as if it weren’t even hurt,” Fowler said. “I knew I had a good shot left and right
but the deer ran about 70-yards through the field and disappeared into the woods.”
Fowler calmed himself
down and then called his friend McNabb on their 2-way radios. Three hours later, at 8 p.m., the two
hunters took up the blood trail of the monster buck.
The blood trail was
decent but the hunters kept pushing the deer from its bed. They found several places where the buck
had laid down but when it got back up the blood trail couldn’t be found for
about 15 yards or so.
Eventually, Fowler and
McNabb found the buck about one-mile into the timber from where he originally
shot the deer at dusk. “I just
couldn’t believe I finally got him after I video-taped him in the fields in July
and then getting the opportunity to come back to Missouri in September to hunt,”
Fowler said. “I couldn’t put the
rack down or quit looking at it.
What calmed me down was dragging the buck out of the woods.”
It took Fowler and
McNabb four hours to finally haul that bruiser buck out of the woods and back to
their truck. The horse-like
whitetail was estimated to field-dress at 230+ pounds!
The hunters drove to
town and bought four bags of ice to cool the buck’s carcass down with before
heading back to the travel trailer for some rest.
“Once I laid down
sometime after 4 a.m., I realized that everything in my body hurt from dragging
that deer out,” Fowler said. “Even
my toes were aching from pulling that deer!”
The next morning
Fowler called Livingston County conservation agent Dennis Ritter to tell him of
the big deer he had taken and suggested that he might like to see the deer for
himself. Ritter obliged and came
over to field check the animal for Fowler.
There are some
questions that need to be answered concerning this huge Livingston County
whitetail. Did the Scott Fowler
buck indeed break Aaron McCauley’s record bow-kill typcial taken in St. Louis
County in 1999? No. The Fowler buck fell 13-inches shy of a
tie for first place with an official net typical score of 178 4/8-inches.
Is the Fowler buck the
biggest whitetail ever recorded taken from Livingston County? Yes. Fowler’s buck measures 20-3/8 more
inches of antler than the old Livingston County record of 171 1/8 inches taken
by Dick West with a firearm in 1986.
Fowler’s buck has some
impressive measurements, the most noticeable being the 24 4/8-inch inside
spread. The buck’s main beams were
26 4/8 inches on the right side and 26 5/8 left. The brow-tines or G1s measured 8 5/8
inches on the right side and 7 3/8-inches on the left. The buck had one small sticker point, a
G5 on the right antler that measured 1 1/8-inch. Here’s the rest of the measurements:
12 3/8-inches right and 12 5/8-inches left.
10 7/8 inches right and 10 4/8-inches left.
3/8-inches right and 5 5/8-inches left.
Circumference on the right antler 16 6/8 inches and 16
The Fowler buck’s
gross score was 183 6/8-inches and netted 178 4/8-inches as a typical. Fowler’s buck ranks 7th in
Missouri for typical whitetail deer bow-kills.
Finally, where exactly
did Scott Fowler kill this huge Livingston County buck? Original reports surrounding the story
of this bow-killed giant suggest that it was taken from the Poosey Conservation
Area but at this time, Scott Fowler is not telling where it is that he actually
harvested it. Who could blame
Fowler for not telling of his secret hunting ground?
Is it possible for
such a large racked buck to come off of a public-use land that gets so much
hunting pressure throughout the deer seasons?
“When the story came
out about an out-of-state hunter shooting such a buck from Poosey, I had my
reservations about where it came from,” said Mitch Miller, Regional Wildlife
Supervisor for the MDC. “Why would
someone tell the world about their secret hunting spot? It just doesn’t make sense.”
Whether or not the
Fowler buck came from this public use area is up for speculation. One thing that isn’t up for second
guessing is Fowler’s skills as a bow-hunter.
Missouri giant isn’t his first deer in the record books. In fact, he has three whitetails
entered in Florida’s state record
book. Two of those deer he took
with a muzzleloader and one with a bow.
“In retrospect, if I
would have went in and scouted this deer just prior to the season opener I would
have blown it,” Fowler said. “You
have to do your scouting for these big bucks well ahead of the season.”
Fowler even took
additional measurers to avoid disrupting the buck’s pattern by not hunting in
the morning and limiting his time in the woods to late day hunting only.
“I waited until the
evening to hunt this deer so I could find the bucks out in the food plots on
their feeding pattern,” Fowler said.
“I am also a stickler on hunting the right wind direction and will never
hunt a bad wind.”
Although not quite a Missouri state record, Fowler’s buck is indeed an
impressive whitetail. The symmetry
and mass of the rack and the enormous body size of the buck are
Wherever Fowler hunts in northwest Missouri, you can bet the farm that if
the wind is blowing in the right direction that he will be back again this year
to try his luck again.