The Minnesota Moose: Luke Onstad’s Houston County Giant!


by Bret Amundson, photos courtesy of Luke Onstad

Luke Onstad's giant from Houston County
Luke Onstad’s giant from Houston County


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.


August, 2013trailcam


BA: Did you have the chance to shoot him last year?

HardWater-IceExpo-300x250LO: 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?

The Minnesota Moose is already on the wall
The Minnesota Moose is already on the wall

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!



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