Nevada Daily Mail
Once in a lifetime, a hunter's quest to take the perfect buck ends in the hunter's victory.
On Nov. 17, the buck Brian Hollands has been pursuing for four years came into his rifle's sights and the elusive quarry's head and trophy 204-inch rack will soon be hanging in the Hollands' home.
The victory was sweet, but the story leading up to the moment is one that goes far beyond the contest between man and cunning beast.
Hollands first encountered the buck in the 2008 bow hunting season, when he injured the deer with an arrow. The next year, the buck was back, this time more cunning, but Hollands was sure it was the same deer. His rack had grown unevenly -- a typical happenstance when deer are injured. Hollands named the deer "Slant Nine."
That year, he missed him by misjudging the distance of about 37 yards to be about 30 yards. The arrow grazed the deer's belly hairs, Hollands said, but the deer escaped.
Their paths crossed again during the 2010 rifle season -- but this time he was 300 yards away. That year, he was still a mainframe nine-point buck with two abnormal points, so Hollands changed his nickname for the deer to simply "The Slant."
In 2011 Hollands saw him many times but "could not close the deal," he said.
In 2012, "he managed to slip through both of my shooting lanes at 50 yards on opening night of Missouri bow season and disappeared after that." Believing the buck might have died, Hollands hunted elsewhere, but his father-in-law saw the buck on Nov. 13. He'd moved to another part of the property on which Hollands normally hunts, a short distance to the north. So, Hollands returned to his quest to bag "The Slant."
He passed up an opportunity to shoot another large buck in the hope that his elusive quarry would finally be back in his sights.
He spent the next three and a half days camped out on his quest; and on the 16th, he heard a buck grunt nearby. Could that be him?
But the deer didn't show himself.
The next morning, as Hollands drove out toward his deer stand, he turned off U.S. 54 onto a gravel road leading to the land on which he hunts. He spotted a teary-eyed, coatless little girl, wandering toward the highway. He stopped and rescued her, determined her name, and that she'd apparently wandered out of the house after some family members had gone hunting. Hollands took the girl to a friend's home nearby, then was able to return her to her home. Hollands said he'd had a great day already and was happy the girl was safe and sound and back with her loving family.
"I have four kids; I've got a daughter the same age as her. I just wanted to get that little girl back to her family," he said.
Hollands returned to his deer stand, much later than usual, and texted the story of how he'd spent the first part of his morning to family members. His father-in-law told Hollands' wife Megan he felt the Lord would bless Brian that day."
That blessing came about 30 minutes later, and Hollands finally shot the now massive buck.
Hollands was elated. "Initially I let out a war whoop that all of Vernon County, Missouri, could hear, but later I broke down multiple times ... I think the emotions were so unbelievably strong after saving that beautiful little girl and killing a buck of a lifetime all within a couple of short hours ... I truly felt that the Lord was at work that morning."
Hollands said the deer's antlers had grown extensively this year, something he attributes to the mild winter, a good food supply in the area and other factors. The rack measured a conservative 204 inches and Hollands said could be the second largest rack on a whitetail taken in Vernon County; the largest being 234 inches, taken by David Sparks in 2004, according to information provided by Hollands.
"I'll take second. That's just fine," Hollands said.