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Monday, February 27, 2012

Cockburn’s buck is incredi-bow

‘Ginormica’’ was picture-perfect.

The mythical buck waded out of a surging creek in Williamson County on a four-wheeler trail the afternoon of Nov. 27. Travis Cockburn stopped it with a bleat call. Then he arrowed it perfectly from 15 yards with a double-lung shot behind the left shoulder blade.

“I sat in the stand for 30 minutes,’’ said Cockburn, 39, of Johnston City. “I really couldn’t move. My knees were shaking.’’

That’s understandable.

“It’s an awesome buck and may be one of the biggest bowkills in North America this season,” scorer Tim Walmsley emailed.

He expects “Ginormica’’ to be the fourth-largest bowkill ever in Illinois. It netted 247 2/8 inches when officially scored on Jan. 26. Racks are scored in inches by the addition and subtraction of various measurements.

But “Ginormica’’ is more cinema than arithmetic.

The buck tale begins with a trail camera. Travis’ brother Trent suggested they put some out on the farms where a family group hunts. In August, a picture was of a monster non-typical. His 8-year-old son, Caden, called it “Ginormica’’ after the Reese Witherspoon character in ‘‘Monsters vs. Aliens.’’

“They were pictures that made you lose sleep at night,’’ Cockburn said.

He thought one reason the buck lived so long might be the thickets, providing impenetrable hiding spots, created by a massive windstorm three years ago.

His luck came from wading into such a thicket on Thanksgiving, trying to push out another big buck a nephew missed a chance at because he was texting. There was unintended good fortune in the foible of youth. While in the thicket, Cockburn found a major trail intersection. 

When he returned a few days later, he put his portable stand high in a tree near it. At first, he saw nothing until the first bobcat he ever saw while hunting stared him down.

“Had we not had that trail cam, I would not have hunted that day — I would have watched football,” Cockburn said.

Then “Ginormica’’ made his appearance behind Cockburn. After he shot the buck and waited a half-hour, Cockburn climbed down, then backed out. He waited until that evening, so he didn’t push it to land he didn’t have permission to hunt. About 8 p.m., a family group followed the blood trail to the buck.

The mythical size spawned wild buck stories.

“It was hilarious the first 45 days,’’ said Cockburn, an insurance agent for Aflac. “The rumors were rampant that I had turned down $300,000 for it. I had not been approached.’’

Then came the waiting. Racks must dry for 60 days before being officially scored. The day it could be officially scored, Cockburn drove it to Walmsley, who scored it for Boone and Crockett Club, keeper of big-game records.

He co-scored it with Darin DeNeal for Pope and Young Club, keeper of bowhunting records. Both organizations are conservation clubs with a side of record-keeping.

“Yes, that buck is one of the most massive racks I’ve scored,’’ Walmsley emailed. “Anytime you have bases over 8 inches, it’s rare. The buck is old — perhaps 8 to 10. The shed that exists from the deer in 2008 was already massive.’’

Walmsley scored the 29-pointer as a main-frame 12-point with 17 abnormal points. The inside spread was only 17 inches, making it a tight rack. The 84/8-inch score on the left H1 base indicates the incredible mass.

“He is a freak; he just had the genes,’’ Cockburn said. 

“Ginormica’’ may be viewed when Cockburn brings the full-body mount to the Illinois Deer and Turkey Classic March 23-25 in Peoria.

“Am I going hunting again? Absolutely,’’ Cockburn said. “The day my heart doesn’t race when I see a deer is when I quit.’’

by Chicago Sun-Times

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