When Jared Thiede laid eyes on a big buck in 2011, he had no idea what was in store for him. Thiede and this deer would have several close encounters over the course of the next two seasons. His persistence paid off in November 2013, when the giant made the fatal mistake of stepping into the crosshairs of his Browning .300 Ultra Mag. Here are the details of Jared’s pursuit for the Vernon County giant.
“Typical to this part of Wisconsin, the ground is mainly rolling hills and agricultural crop ground,” Jared said. “It’s around 1,800 acres and consists of approximately 1,300 acres of crop ground and 500 acres of timber. There isn’t any big timber, but rather small woodlots and thin strips dispersed across the property. Other than myself, I share the hunting ground with my father-in-law, Jim, and my brothers-in-law, Jason and Nick.
“The first couple of years were spent getting to know the property, learning how the deer moved about it,” Thiede said. “I marked the location of the travel routes and natural funnels on aerial photos, as well as stand locations. We now use the aerials to develop daily hunting strategies, selecting the best stands for a given wind. Other than trail cameras, most of our scouting is done during the postseason to avoid educating the deer.”
2011 And 2012 Seasons
“The first time I ever laid eyes on the buck was during the 2011 archery season.” Jared said. “I’d already taken a buck and was hunting for a doe. I spotted a buck chasing a doe across a field, maybe 100 yards away. I figured he was 3½ years old and would likely gross between 150 and 160. I hunted the gun season, but didn’t see him again, nor did anyone else.
“In 2012 I ran trail cameras during the summer but didn’t get any pictures of that deer,” he said. “On October 29, Jason and I decided to hunt a remote part of the farm. There are only two stands in that area, but we have cameras on both to monitor what’s moving through. That afternoon, Jason saw the big buck for the first time, walking the field edge. He came within 40 yards, but Jason couldn’t get a shot. There’s a bedding area between the stands, and we figured he was heading to that. We pulled the cards from the cameras and found pictures of the buck walking past both stands just the day before.
“The next morning we hunted the same stands. I didn’t see much the first two hours, but around 9:30 I spotted a doe running across the field and a monster buck right behind her,” Jared said. “I swear to God it looked like he had a ribcage on his head!”
It was the kind of morning all deer hunters dream of. “The doe followed the field edge and continued past the stand,” Jared said. “As the buck approached, I drew and waited. Unfortunately, he stopped short of the opening. I was at full draw for nearly a minute and had to let down. Two small bucks had moved in and were pestering the doe. When the buck looked like he was about to move, I drew and waited for an opportunity. Suddenly, he took off on a dead run after the small bucks chasing the doe over the ridge. A short time later I saw him following the doe down the valley.”
Thiede watched that buck and four others chasing the doe for the next hour. Eventually the doe bedded down, with all five bucks bedding within 20 yards of her. “I had an appointment with the landowner after lunch, so around noon I climbed down and snuck out,” he remembered. “I returned around 2:30 p.m. and started glassing the spot where the bucks were earlier, but couldn’t find them. However, minutes later the doe and all five bucks came charging over the ridge directly toward me. The biggest buck was leading, so I grabbed my bow and came to full draw. The doe ran right past the stand. I attempted to stop the buck, but he was running way too fast.
“For the next two and a half hours, I watched all five bucks chase the doe. There were several times I thought I’d get another chance, but he never came closer than 60 yards. From that day on the buck became known as Picket.”
The team did not see Picket again during the 2012 season. The good news was, they did not hear reports of anybody else shooting him, nor were there any reports of a big deer being killed on the highway. During the off-season they all dreamed of Picket and wondered if they would ever see him again.
2013: A Very Close Encounter
Jared and his family planted food plots during the summer and put their trail cameras out early, hoping that Picket would show again.
“I had two weeks of vacation planned starting Nov. 1,” Thiede said. “The Friday, before Jason took the tractor around and checked the cameras. He called later and said, “You’re not going to believe who showed up. We have pictures of Picket a few days ago in the same spot as last year!”
The first week of November found Nick and Jared concentrating on hunting the two stands where they had the close encounters the year before. However, as luck would have it, they didn’t see the buck all week.
“On Nov. 9 I hunted a different area, but Nick decided to stick with the stand where we had the most recent picture,” Jared said. “Around 4:30 p.m. he saw the buck trotting across the cornfield, heading toward the bedding area. After hunting, he pulled the memory cards and found a picture of Picket walking beneath the other stand at 4:20 that day!
“The morning of Nov. 11 we had a snow storm — more like a blizzard, really — that lasted for about two hours. It got so bad I contemplated getting down, but I kept thinking about the 160-class buck I shot under identical conditions in 2012,” Thiede said. “So I decided to check the radar on my phone. It looked like the storm would be moving through within the next few minutes, so I decided to stick it out.
“As the snow tapered off, I spotted a large deer walking the field edge. When I pulled up the binoculars I was surprised to see Picket! Unfortunately, he continued up the fence line and disappeared,” Jared recalled. “Shortly after the skies cleared, deer were running everywhere. The spurt lasted for about two hours, then it petered out. That’s when I decided to climb down. I pulled the card from the camera behind the stand, mainly to show Nick the buck that had walked through earlier.”
While going through the camera pictures, Jared was pleased to find one of Picket. The bad news was, based on the time on the image, the monster buck had walked within 25 yards of his stand during the peak of the storm! “When I saw him along the field edge, he had already passed by me,” Jared said.
Nov. 15 was the last day of Jared’s vacation. He had two more close encounters with the buck that day, but as luck would have it, he stopped short both times of stepping into the clearing.
“With only minutes of shooting light remaining, Picket pushed a doe up the field edge, right past the stand,” Jared said. “It appeared he was going to follow, but once again he stopped short. Then both deer started to move again, but before I could get drawn, Picket had passed through my shooting lane. Then suddenly, the doe came sprinting back! As the buck turned to follow I drew and waited. There were two deadfalls between us, so I had to wait until he passed beyond them. With the 40-yard pin glued on his chest, I followed him into the opening and hit the release. I heard the arrow hit solidly, and the buck charged off and out of sight. I could hear thrashing noises, then silence. I was convinced he was dead, but decided to wait until morning to take up the trail.
“The next morning I climbed into the stand and lined up where the buck was standing, using one of the deadfalls for reference,” Thiede said. “As I walked between the first and second deadfalls, I spotted my arrow stuck in a rotten log. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed out, but at the same time thankful for a clean miss!”
2013 Gun Season
“Even though nobody was hunting the farm, we continued running our trail cameras after the bow season ended,” Thiede said. “The week before gun season, we had a couple of pictures of Picket just before daylight passing by one of the stands. He was alive and unhurt, and still on the farm.
“After the gun season opened, I hunted that Thursday and Friday with my father-in-law, Jim, and my brother-in-law Nick,” Jared said. “I didn’t see any big bucks, but I passed on several smaller ones. So on Saturday morning, Nov. 30, I slipped into the stand where I’d been seeing Picket well before sunrise. About 20 minutes before shooting light, I heard a deer walking on the ridge behind me. A few minutes later I heard it again, only this time much, much closer. Then, shortly after first light, I heard a stick snap and saw the body of a deer moving down the ridge. When it got within 80 yards, I could see antlers. A couple more steps and I spotted the unmistakable bladed brow tine. It was definitely Picket!”
It was time to calm the buck fever and make it happen. “I slowly eased the Ultra Mag up and concentrated on the first opening ahead. The instant his chest came into view, I settled the crosshairs on the shoulder and squeezed a shot off,” Jared said. “The rifle cracked and he took off running. From his reaction, I was convinced I had missed completely. It wasn’t a difficult shot, one that I was confident in making. I quickly jacked another round into the chamber and followed the buck into the last opening and squeezed the trigger. At the sound of the shot the buck folded. At that instant I realized that I had killed the buck of a lifetime. I was overwhelmed with a rush and couldn’t wait to put my hands on the antlers.
“Approaching the buck, I started having mixed emotions,” Thiede remembered. “When I finally laid my hands on the antlers, I was overwhelmed with joy, but at the same time feeling an emotional loss. All the events leading up to that moment had formed a special bond with the buck, and reality had sunk in. When examining the buck, I found I hadn’t missed at all. In fact, both 180-grain .30-caliber Scirocco slugs were grouped within an inch of each other. Within minutes I received a text from Nick asking what I had shot. I replied by saying, ‘Persistence pays off, guess we’ll have to find another deer to hunt next year. I just shot Picket!’ The text messages started coming in nonstop, wanting to know how big the deer was. It was absolutely crazy.
“I called my wife, Jamie, to tell her the news and asked her to bring out our daughter, Ava, so we could all celebrate the occasion together. It was an awesome experience, one I’ll remember for a lifetime.”
Jared Thiede’s monster buck gross-scored 194 4/8 Boone and Crockett points and netted 184 1/8. To date it’s the second largest typical reported taken in Vernon County.
Jared Thiede’s Hunting Gear
Rifle: Browning .300 Ultra Mag
Scope: Leupold Vari-X III scope
Ammunition: Remington 180-grain Scirocco Bonded Bullet
Under Layers: Scent-Lok BaseSlayers
Outerwear: Cabela’s Dry Plus
Scent Control: Dead Down Wind
Camouflage: Mossy Oak Treestand