'I thought I was going to have a heart attack': How Edmond hunter killed possible Oklahoma state record deer

An Edmond hunter has killed a deer that likely will be a state archery record and is possibly the highest scoring typical whitetail buck ever taken in the state.

"I never thought in a million years I would shoot a deer that big," said Zach Meadows, who shot the buck with his bow on Nov. 3 in Logan County.

The 16-point buck has been scored before deductions at 210 by Terry's Taxidermy in Oklahoma City, which would make the animal the largest typical whitetail ever killed by an Oklahoma hunter.

The state archery record is a 188 5/8 buck from Pawnee County which was killed by Gunner Womack of Morrison two years ago.

The overall typical record is 194 inches. That buck was killed in Pushmataha County during the 2007 gun season by John Ehmer of Tuskahoma.

Deer antlers are measured, or scored, in inches and are divided into typical and nontypical categories. Typical antlers are those that are symmetrical on each side with points in the usual locations. Non-typical antlers are those that are abnormal with unusual variations.

Antlers cannot be officially scored until after the 60-day drying process. The score for Meadows' buck is likely to decrease when officially scored. The question is how much?

Terry Mayberry, owner of Terry's Taxidermy, said Meadows' buck should beat the current state archery record and could be the overall typical record.

"It's definitely got a chance," Mayberry said. "He's got quite a few deductions on him. Until they get an official score, it's hard to say. He's got all those kickers on him that are deducts but he's definitely got the mass and got the circumference."

Deductions in scoring arise from any difference in symmetry between both sides of a deer's antlers. The Wildlife Department is expected to have a panel of Boone & Crockett certified scorers measure the deer after 60 days.

Meadows, who operates an oil and gas company in Edmond, owns and leases land in Logan County. He first saw the big buck in a trail camera photo last year, but didn't see it again on his trail camera until recently.

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Deer hunter Zach Meadows of Edmond killed a buck in Logan County on Nov. 3 that might be a new state record.
Deer hunter Zach Meadows of Edmond killed a buck in Logan County on Nov. 3 that might be a new state record.

A fateful decision

On the day Meadows shot the potential state-record buck, he almost released an arrow from his compound bow on a 180 or 190 class nontypical whitetail, which would have been the biggest deer he had ever shot.

But he decided to pass on the animal in hopes the giant buck would appear that he had seen on camera working a scrape line. Ten minutes later, it did.

"I see him (the nontypical) get all puffed up and licking his lips... He is acting scared," Meadows said. "I thought what in the world could be out here scaring this deer. I knew something was happening. I start looking around and I could see the antlers coming."

The two large bucks started sparring and the nontypical runs away. The big typical started chasing him but stopped about 60 yards away, giving Meadows an opportunity for a shot.

"I am shaking so bad I can barely see my sights," he said.

The buck ran just 25 yards before falling from Meadows' arrow.

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Patience is rewarded

Meadows said the giant buck is proof that selective deer management works. The buck Meadows killed ono Nov. 3 was estimated to be around 7 years old.

He and his sons have chosen not to shoot smaller bucks over the years, allowing them to grow and mature. His neighbors also have been following the same plan.

"It's been a 20-year work in progress," Meadows said. "When I first started hunting out there, you were really lucky to even see any bucks."

The size of the bucks on his property have gradually increased over the years. Meadows also has been more selective in not only what he shoots, but how much he hunts, learning over the years that the less hunting pressure the better.

Meadows said he used to hunt almost daily, but discovered from trail camera photos that the deer would only show up at night when he was there so often.

"That's been huge, staying out of there as much as we can and not checking trail cameras every day," he said.

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Instant fame

Since news broke on social media about the deer, Meadows has been something of a celebrity. He has received numerous phone calls and congratulatory texts, including calls from hunting magazines and taxidermists who wanted to mount the deer.

"It's been a crazy few days," he said.

It has also brought some unwanted attention around his hunting property.

"We already got some guys nosing around out there," he said. "We already had some out-of-state guys show up out there asking questions."

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Buck fever returns

Deer hunting has always been Meadows' passion.

"I was hanging deer in a fraternity house front yard at OU," he said

Meadows, 42, spent his summers in college as a hunting and fishing guide in Alaska, and has hunted numerous times there and in New Mexico over the years.

He went to Russia three years ago on a hunting trip where he killed a possible world record roebuck, but he said last week's Oklahoma whitetail hunt could become his most memorable.

"I am sure it will be," he said. "Whitetail just seem like the most challenging out of everything I've hunted. Not just any whitetail, but one of these old bucks just seem like a different species.

"Buck fever, I haven't had it in a while, but this one, I had to just close my eyes and just breathe. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. There is nothing like hunting a mature buck. It takes a little bit of luck and a lot of prep."

Reporter Ed Godfrey looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at egodfrey@oklahoman.com or on Twitter @EdGodfrey. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Oklahoma hunter kills possible state record deer in Logan County