Self-Filmed Video: 190-Class Rutting Whitetail at 10 Yards

A bowhunter’s 3-year quest for an Illinois monster whitetail culminates with a point-blank shot, but the final outcome is far from guaranteed.

Self-Filmed Video: 190-Class Rutting Whitetail at 10 Yards

Bowhunting is far from a sure thing. And as you’ll see in the 13-minute YouTube video below, Donald Stover ultimately is successful in putting his Illinois tag on a massive whitetail that scores nearly 190 inches. Stover pursued the buck for 3 years, and prior to getting a 10-yard broadside shot on November 24, he had a couple other close calls but didn’t release an arrow.

I encourage you to watch the video, then scroll down on this page to check out my Monday morning quarterback comments. You might agree with my take, or perhaps you’ll think I’m 100 percent wrong.

First, I offer Donald Stover my congratulations. I’ve never killed a 190-class whitetail, and it’s unlikely I ever will on the properties I hunt in the Midwest. Spectacular buck.

As you can see in the video, self-filming whitetail action in a hardwood forest is very difficult, especially during the rut. Bucks can show up from any direction at any time of day, and predicting where they’ll walk is a guess at best.

Stover does a great job of eventually getting the buck stopped in the camara frame. Assuming the video is edited true to life, Stover doesn’t draw his bow until after stopping the buck. I’ve learned through reading the many comments and answers in the YouTube comments section that he had to stop the buck to keep it in the camera frame, then draw his bow. It’s 100 percent understandable. Ideally you want to be at full-draw before stopping a buck with a bleat, but Stover didn’t have this luxury due to self-filming. I get it. (Click here for a recent article I wrote about how soon you should release an arrow after stopping a walking buck.)

By the time Stover shoots, the buck has started to take a step. The Illinois giant doesn’t move much, but it’s enough to contribute to a poor hit (too low, and too far back). Watch the hit sequence over and over by quickly hitting the start/stop play button until you stop on the exact moment of arrow impact. If Stover’s arrow had hit approximately 6 inches higher, he might have caught the back of both lungs. If his arrow height was the same but moved 6 inches forward, he would’ve centerpunched the heart. As it is, however, this is a liver shot.

Poor hits happen. During my 45 years of bowhunting, I’ve made a few myself. Most veteran bowhunters have shared similar troubling moments in the field. That said, it’s what Stover says soon thereafter that I disagree with 100 percent.

“I’d rather hit there (the liver) any day than hit that shoulder,” Stover said, “so . . . I’m almost positive he’s dead.”

With all due respect to Donald Stover, I think you’re wrong. And I’m not going to turn this article into a debate about broadhead design (mechanicals vs. cut-on-contact fixed blades) or light vs. heavy arrows, or tips for penetrating the shoulder on big whitetails (heavy draw weight, etc.). I’m also not going to discuss a topic I’ve covered previously on how many bowhunters fail to understand the true location of a buck’s scapula (shoulder). Click here to check out that article.

My biggest complaint regarding this video is the notion or belief that “the end justifies the means.” Or stated another way, as long as a bowhunter kills a buck, exactly how that comes to fruition doesn’t really matter. 


A far better outcome for this bowhunt would have been Stover’s arrow striking the buck’s shoulder, and that arrow penetrating only an inch or two, stopping before penetrating the lungs. This would’ve been a superficial wound that heals completely. 

A complete miss would have been even better.

As bowhunters, our No. 1 concern should be to make quick, clean kills. Too often I think bowhunters focus only on the result (a dead buck) and not the process (killing it quickly).

I can speak only for myself — but I’m 99 percent sure all of my close bowhunting buddies feel the same — I’d rather miss a deer entirely, or have a shot result in superficial wound, than find a deer the following day because I made a poor hit that required 6, 8, 10 or 12 hours to eventually cause death. And animal size, or how long you’ve pursued a particular buck, is irrelevant.


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