Brody Splain remembers the exact day.
“October 3rd,” he states. “I drew on him with my bow from like 20 yards, and I was getting ready to pull the trigger to release the arrow, he smelled me and took off immediately. In my mind I was like, ‘God, I have to do everything I can for the rest of the season to try and get him, because he’s so amazing.”
“He” is a giant buck that could well be one of the biggest deer taken in the state after it is officially scored.
“I saw him again, exactly a month later,” Brody continued. “It was November 3rd, and he was around about 20 other deer out in a field. He was chasing around does and everything. He’s so much bigger than the other bucks, that other bucks were out in the field fighting each other, and they weren’t paying him any attention.”
That day, Splain said that the big buck was exactly 63 yards from his postion, much too far for a viable shot from a bow. Brody said that he felt confident that he could have hit him from that distance, but he wanted to make a good shot – and make sure he brought him down.
“I had to let him go that time, and that ate me up,” Brody said. “I think the longest time he disappeared without me getting him on camera or anything was 15 days.”
So from early November until last Saturday, the giant has been the center of Brody’s attention.
“I’ve put in two full months of time after him,” Splain said. “I’ve hunted him everyday for two months, pretty much. I’d get off of work as much as I could, and everything. I have probably 35 trail camera pictures of him; and I’ve been having competition from everywhere – people on properties all around me trying to get this deer.”
Splain said that he’d seen the animal three times previously, but could never get his in range for a shot.
That all changed this past Saturday, November 25th.
“My uncle had died that morning,” Splain said. “So it was really personal, because I was just feeling that, and I go out that next evening after he died that morning. I hadn’t seen a deer all evening, I hadn’t seen anything; and right before I was getting ready to quit, I look out in the field and he’s sitting there – the one I was waiting for. It was perfect.”
Growing up in a hunting family, Splain has hunted all over the world; but as he brought his scope to his target last Saturday, it was a nervous experience.
“I shot, and I freaked,” he smiled. “I had to calm myself three times, because I kept looking at him through the scope, and I was so excited I was shaking, my whole body. Everytime I started to pull the trigger, I was like, ‘Nope. Can’t do it yet’; then I’d try again and my mind would be, ‘Nope…’. I wanted to make a good shot, because I was so freaking out.”
Squeezing off his shot, Splain said that he grabbed his stuff and ran as fast as he could…..home.
“I didn’t even go look for it,” he said. “I wanted to get help. So we went out and found him.”
Splain was hunting on the property of Bob and Donna Martin on Spring Branch Road, which Brody said was only a minute or so from his house.
“It’s the perfect ending to everything,” Brody said.
The deer has over 200-inches of antler, which Brody says is the mecca of what every deer hunter ever wants: to bring down a deer with over 200-inches of antler.
“A typical rack, which is without all the crazy stuff, he’s rivaling the county record,” Splain said. “And then, non-typically – which is counting all the crazy, untypical points, he’s over 200-inches. I can’t get him officially scored until after January 27th, but he’s definitely there.”
Brody said that there is a 60-day waiting period between the time a deer is taken and when it can be scored. That’s because the skull plate of the deer shrinks, and by waiting, all deer are on equal footing when being scored.
The buck will be scored by an official from Lawrenceburg, who will come to the Splain home for the measurements.
“Typical county record, it’s going to be right around it,” Brody said. “It’s going to be right around 185 or 187, typical.”
The deer will be scored both “typical” and “non-typical.”
“He’s going to possibly make the Boone and Crockett system, typical or non-typical. In that system, typical is 170 and non-typical is 195 (inches of antler),” Brody said. “The reason that’s less is because Boone and Crockett deducts things that aren’t even on both sides. So if one point is 10 and one point is seven, they deduct three.”
Boone and Crockett is the nationwide accepted scoring system for deer.
The scorer will score the deer on the Boone and Crockett system, and he will enter those measurements in a ‘book’.
“He makes it by a mile, typical, 15 or 20-inches or something,” Splain said. “Non-typical, it’s going to be right on the border.”
The buck will also be scored by Safari Club International, which uses a gross measurement. Brody said that he expects SCI to get the same measurements he did – right around 212-inches.
“That’s the biggest deer that I’ve ever even seen, and I live in a taxidermy shop,” Splain laughed. “I’ve seen thousands of deer come through in my lifetime, and I’ve still never seen anything that big.”
“He cried,” mom Janet ‘Fizz’ Splain chimed in.
“Oh, I bawled by eyes out,” Brody confirmed. “There’s several pictures of me with tears streaming down my face. I’ve worked so hard for it. I had so many people trying to mess me up so they could get him and not me; so it was a perfect ending.”
Before last Saturday, the biggest deer that Splain had ever gotten measured at 140-inches.
“But I’m the kind that I realize what I have,” Brody said. “Because I grew up around it, so it’s really amazing. I’m never going to be able to do this again, get a 200-inch deer.”
But Brody’s hunting experience reaches well beyond Switzerland County.
“I’ve been to Africa three times. Texas several times – we’re going back into Texas in February – I’ve been all over the place,” Brody said. “We’re going to New Foundland next September (on the eastern edge of Canada),”My dad is going moose hunting, and I’m going to try and get a Black Bear.”
Brody is quick to point out that, no matter where he and dad, Bill, and others are hunting, it’s much more than just a trophy hunt.
“We take animals, we bring them back, obviously, as trophies, but we don’t just leave the meat,” he said. “A lot of people think we just leave the meat. We’re not allowed to bring it back. We feed so many natives and homeless in those countries with that meat. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people with that meat who wouldn’t have food otherwise. I don’t think a lot of people realize that.”
Splains have spent their time hunting in three of four provinces of South Africa, near the capital of Johannesburg.
“I’ve been three times,” he said. “We’ve hunted different types of antelopes. Warthogs. Dad just recently got back from hunting a cape buffalo. I’ve killed a black wildebeest. Mom has a zebra.”
Brody said that he’s been obsessed with hunting ever since he was five or six years old; and his career plans are to be a hunting guide in Texas or some other location.
“Originally I was going to go to Africa and be a hunting guide,” Brody said. “But my guy over there has had a lot of personal issues and he is no long hunting at all, so that kind of solved that.”
But hunting , professionally or recreationally, will always be a part of Brody Splain’s life.
“It’s something that’ I’m willing to commit my whole career to,” he says. “It’s all I’ve ever really done. If your father’s a taxidermist, and the only thing he wants to do is hunt, what are you going to do? It’s kind of cool.”