Hunting during a cold snap on January 11, 2011, Wade Ward finally shot the new Oklahoma state record whitetail, a huge 14-pointer he’d been tracking on his trail camera for two years. The buck turned out to be the Sooner State’s third largest typical—and the largest ever taken with archery equipment.
“We’d have 2 or 3 pictures a month, maybe more,” Ward says. “Sometimes he’d show up five nights in a row. But the funny thing was, about a week before gun season started he’d disappear, and then a week or two after gun season ended he’d come back. He did that two years in a row.”
Because of the bitter cold on January 11, Ward decided to use his wife’s crossbow and hunt a ground blind that was situated about 15 yards from a hackberry tree where his feeder hung. Trail cam photos showed the buck had come in just after dark the night before, but now the temperature had dipped into the single digits, and Ward was betting the buck would need to feed a little earlier.
He was right: The 14-pointer stepped out of a thin line of timber that separates Ward’s land from the public hunting ground. Trees damaged by an ice storm several years ago create a tangle of blowdown that Ward believes made a perfect bedding site for the buck.
“He was about 45 to 50 yards away when I first saw him, and he was facing right at me. I didn’t have a shot, but I figured he’d come on in to the feeder. He stood for what seemed like a long time just staring at the feeder. It was probably five minutes, but that’s a long time when you’re waiting for a big buck to walk to you.”
“After he decided to walk in he came straight to the feeder. When he got to 20 yards and stopped, I shot. I was a little nervous, but I’ve shot big bucks before in Kansas. But nothing like this. You just don’t see bucks like this and get them killed around here. I thought I was awful lucky and I couldn’t believe it was happening.”
The highly symmetrical seven-by-seven rack netted 188 4/8. Ward says his score has been accepted by the Boone & Crockett Club, and he’s waiting now for official word from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Cy Curtis program, the state’s record keeper for trophy bucks. Cy Curtis records show that Ward’s buck will be the largest ever taken with archery equipment in Oklahoma, surpassing this 185 6/8 inch typical shot November 11, 1997, by Larry Luman in Bryan County.