OVERTIME OUTDOORS: Indiana hunter sings a new song after all goes right to shoot No. 2 deer in history

A 27-year-old self-described redneck loves hunting deer even more than he does writing and selling country songs in Nashville.

Dustin Huff, who lives in Decatur County, Indiana, and just released a new album, “Redneck of the Woods,” recently wrote “Lucky Me.” His latest song was inspired by the deer of a lifetime he shot and killed with a crossbow Nov. 4 while hunting on his family farm covering 185 acres in southeastern Indiana.

Avid Teche Area deer hunters and others in Louisiana can appreciate the 290-pound, 12-point buck as it will be the No. 1 typical whitetail deer in Indiana, the new world-record crossbow typical whitetail deer and the all-time No. 2 Boone and Crockett typical whitetail deer in the world. It has the deer hunting world buzzing, including stories Nov. 7 in North American Whitetail, Nov. 14 in Field & Stream and Nov. 17 on WTHR-TV in Indianapolis.

“Like a five-leaf clover, man. It’s crazy. I mean, I would never guessed this would have happened to a guy like me, you know? I’m just a redneck who goes to the woods and goes deer hunting, play some guitar. It’s been nuts,” Huff told the Indianapolis television station on Wednesday.

It looked as big as a moose when he first saw it, he said later.

To put the Huff Buck in perspective per the preliminary scoring, the rack has an inside spread of 21 6/8 inches, 28-inch (right) and 27-inch (left) main beams, and several mass measurements of 7 inches. The G-2 tines are 12 5/8 inches.

Pending the required 60-day drying period and inevitable B&C panel score, the mega-buck eclipses all but Milo Hanson’s legendary buck from Saskatchewan, Canada, which netted 213 5/8 after it was shot in 1993.

The buck should bump Dave Roberts’ 195 5/8 Indiana state typical whitetail deer record (set in 1900) to second, be bigger than the current all-time No. 2 typical whitetail deer — James Jordan’s 206 1/8 (shot in 1914), and smash Brad Jerman’s 201 1/8 crossbow world record (set in 2004).

That Huff and his buck are in such lofty company can be attributed to the fact he did something new on that hunt the fourth day of November. He chose a crossbow and a climbing stand, walked to an oak flat he’d never hunted and set up there.

“I hunt a 185-acre farm that my dad and I have hunted for years. I killed my first buck there as a boy. The property is about an even split between crop fields and timber, and it’s a beautiful place with a lot of special memories. I started hunting there in sixth grade with my dad. But up until this month, I’d never killed a buck bigger than 130 inches,” Huff told Field & Stream’s Scott Bestul.

The magazine story noted he had only one trail camera out and no pics of the huge deer. However, other deer hunters in the area were award of the big buck, including one who lived eight miles away and had several photos of it.

Huff’s 2021 season had been slow, he admitted.

“I was putting in a lot of time as the rut approached, sometimes getting in 10-hour days (hunts). But all I was seeing were basket-racked bucks,” he told Field & Stream. “So I decided it was time to do something different. I have a Summit Viper climber that I got when I was in eighth grade. I took that and headed to an oak grove that I hadn’t been in previously and thought, I’m just going to give this spot a try, and I climbed up a tree.”

He first spotted the buck about 70 yards away. It was facing him, which gave the deer hunter a good idea how wide it was, bigger than any buck he’d ever seen or shot.

The deer was moving along the same ridge he was on and slowed when it neared a small ravine between them.

“I was trying to decide exactly where and when to take the shot. Of course, I was super-nervous, and there was a lot of self-talk happening as I tried to calm myself down,” he said in the Field & Stream story.

When the buck was within 40 yards, Huff whistled softly to stop it. It stopped behind two saplings.

Huff whistled again and it stopped one more time, partially shielded by a small tree. He was able to lean out, draw a bead on the shoulder, set the 30-yard sight mark a touch high and shoot the shot of his life with a Beman arrow tipped with a 2-blade Rage broadhead.

The buck ran 70 yards and dropped. Huff got out of his deer stand.

“When I climbed down and walked up to the buck, it still didn’t even seem real. I honestly thought I had a 170- or 180-inch deer, as I’d never seen anything close to that big before. His body was big, too. He field dressed around 230 pounds, and it took me and four buddies to drag him out,” he told Field & Stream.

It’s guesstimated the buck was 6 ½ years old.

That Huff changed his approach was a key by trying a new spot and a climber. Deer hunting experts also have focused on why the deer was eight miles from its home territory.

They reckon the deer either had a huge home range, possible but uncommon, or couldn’t find a willing doe during the rut so decided to go on a long hike.

Huff’s “Lucky Me” says it all.

“Right time, right place,

by design or call it fate.

It’s like hitting a home run straight out of the park,

first time up at the plate.

Like shooting that one buck, biggest in the USA.

That’s how I feel finding you, falling fresh out of the blue.

And it’s still hard to believe,

but oh, lucky me.”

DON SHOOPMAN is outdoors editor of The Daily Iberian.

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