St. Louis and its surrounding suburbs line the shores of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois rivers, and this confluence is one of the most fertile lands in the country. This soil grows huge white tailed males. This is where retired police officer Brian Gailis, 53, hunts, combing white oak ridges and tangled riverbeds, which are the main travel lanes for rutting males.
âThe region is a mosaic of private land, municipal land [which are off limits to hunting], and you have to know where you can hunt to shoot one of those big suburban pennies, âsays Gailis. âI hunt river bottoms regularly and in 2017 I saw an 8 point giant that I thought would score 150 inches. I saw it along a power line, so I started calling it the Power Line Buck. But he was stalking a doe and never offered me a chance.
Over the years, Gailis has obtained photos from the buck’s trail camera and has found several of his shed antlers. The dollar was getting bigger every year. At 3:30 a.m. on November 24e Gailis’ alarm went off and he almost turned to fall asleep again. He would hunt with a bow for days without success.
âBut my wife Tracy said to check the moon map to see if it was supposed to be a good morning, and it was,â says Gailis. âSo I got out of bed and climbed up to my tree at 6 in the morning. Almost immediately after settling into the booth, I heard deer moving among the oak leaves. Gailis saw deer as soon as it was daylight, so he picked up a Primos call and turned it around twice, producing two doe bleats.
“I immediately heard a deer coming from the ridge above me, and I looked around the tree and spotted the Powerline Buck approaching my tree,” Gailis recalls. . “He walked into one of my open firing lanes and came to a perfect stop 10 yards away when I gave a soft mouthed growl.”
Gailis drew her bow and fired. The buck took off, but stopped 25 yards away and stayed there for 20 seconds, Gailis says. Then he stumbled, took two steps, and disappeared into thick tangles of blanket. Gailis waited 45 minutes, then got off to follow the deer.
âOnce I got down under the canopy of the trees, I saw him lying dead just 30 meters away,â says Gailis. Gailis’ friend Robert Poole and his son Jackson helped him collect the money.
The 8.5-year-old billy goat weighed 235 pounds on the ground, with an estimated live weight of 290 pounds. According to an official Boone & Crockett scorer, the buck has 17 scoreable points and a non-typical green score of 202 1/8.
âIt was five long years to get this money,â says Gailis. “My wife Tracy loves to tell me that if it wasn’t her who had pushed me to check the moon map that morning, I would never have got out of bed to have it within range of my bow.” And, of course, she’s right.