by Bret Amundson, photos courtesy of Luke Onstad
The “Minnesota Moose” story came to me through a message on Facebook a few days ago. When you look at the rack you realize that this is no ordinary whitetail. Anytime you have palmation on a set of antlers like this, people will take notice. The story behind the buck is as good as the buck itself. I recently interviewed the shooter, Luke Onstad for this week’s MNSJ Radio show. Here is an excerpt of that interview, hear the rest this weekend on a station near you.
Bret Amundson (BA): How big was this deer?
Luke Onstad (LO): I scored him at 195 1/8”. I haven’t had him officially scored yet, but he should be close to that.
BA: You didn’t get any good pictures of it!
LO: (Laughs) No, I got so excited. I got home and I started caping the deer out and realized I didn’t take any good pictures of it. I sewed it back up quick and called my mom and she took some pictures of it. We didn’t get great pictures but at least we got some.
BA: Do you have a name for this deer and how long have you known about him?
LO: I called him the “Split G2 Buck” because 2 years ago the first pictures I got of him he had split G2’s. He was really young and he had split G2’s the following year.
BA: You had trail cam pictures of him the last two years, but nothing on camera this year?
LO: Yeah I was pretty worried all summer long, I never really saw him and then it was the beginning of August I was out scouting one night and I saw him. I knew instantly what deer it was. So then I started to get excited and move stands around. He seemed to be smarter than me for quite a while.
BA: Did you have the chance to shoot him last year?
LO: Yeah actually the first night out last year, the opening of bow season, he was the first deer that came out at 15 yards. I knew what deer it was, of course, and I told myself I wasn’t shooting him because I knew he was only 4 and I thought he could get a lot bigger. It worked out…15 minutes later a 165 ten-pointer came out that I knew was 5-years-old and I got him.
BA: Two things I notice there, one you have to have some pretty good willpower to pass up a buck like that and two, you must have shot some nice deer to pass up a big one like that.
LO: I’ve shot a few pretty nice bucks, but he would have been one of the bigger ones that I’ve ever got. I got this property that I’m on four years ago and I just decided that deer are going to be 5-years-old here before they get shot, no matter what size rack they have, and that’s what I’ve been doing I guess.
BA: Had you been seeing other deer this year that you were targeting? Or was this the deer you wanted?
LO: This was pretty much the only deer I was going to shoot this year. I told myself “If I don’t get him, I’m not going to get one and I won’t be disappointed.” At least that’s what I told myself (laughs).
BA: You shot this deer in a way that I’ve wanted to try for a long time. Let’s start with the location: A half-picked cornfield.
LO: We picked it about two weeks before I got him. I’d been seeing does there every night. This night it was foggy and kinda rainy. I came down my driveway and I could see there were deer out there and I could tell there was a buck with a really big body. I couldn’t make out what deer it was for sure, but I thought, “Well, there’s nothing to lose, I’m gonna try to sneak out there.” I had an idea it was him because it was in the area that I’d seen him (before). I jumped in the standing part of corn about ten rows in and just marked where I thought they were and walked down the corn. When I got where I thought they were I started crossing rows as slow as a could and as quiet as I could. I got about three rows from the end and the only deer I saw was him. He was standing there looking at the corn and I (didn’t) know if he was looking at me? I never could tell, but he was about 40 yards, so I drew my bow and shot. He made a big jump and whirled around and looked around for a little bit and tipped over. After that, honestly I don’t really even remember totally what all happened because I was so excited. I just kinda went through the motions, didn’t even really know what was going on (laughs).
BA: I’ve always been nervous about doing the whole cornfield-stalk deal. Did you worry about blowing the deer out of the area?
LO: I wasn’t sure if it was him, for one. But I really had gotten kinda frustrated. I’d moved stands 6 times this year and each time he’d take a different trail or he’d come out where I just had the stand. The reason I did it is because I was frustrated and thought “I might as well try this because nothing else has worked.” And it worked.
BA: You shot it on October 23rd, have you gotten any offers from anyone that wants to buy a replica yet?
LO: Not yet, I haven’t heard any offers or anything, but as far as mounting, I do taxidermy and he’s already mounted! He’s not finished yet…he’s drying right now.
BA: You have your own taxidermy business?
LO: I call it Broken Arrow Taxidermy and I’ve been doing it for 5 years now. I really enjoy it. I went to school saying if I never did anybody’s other than my own, it was worth it. But I’ve gotten quite a bit of business and I really enjoy it.
Hear the rest of Luke’s interview, including more details about his stalk through the cornfield during this weekend’s MNSJ Radio Show.
Thanks Luke, congrats!