Scott Niemitalo grew up in eastern Oregon where he hunted mule deer and elk with a bow and arrow. But tagging a large Randolph County whitetail buck provided one of his most satisfying experiences.
“I saw the buck with a doe in a field next to my long driveway,” said Niemitalo, who lives near Trinity. “He just stood there and didn’t run when my truck got closer. Normally a big deer like that is gonna high-tail it out of there, so I thought something was going on. Then I saw the doe.”
At first glance, the buck’s headgear didn’t appear that remarkable to Niemitalo, then the deer turned its head and the Randolph County landowner saw the extraordinary length of its tines.
“I didn’t know anything was like that on the property,” said Niemitalo, who figured the deer rut must be in high gear when he saw the buck and down last Nov. 22. “I had a feeling the buck might stay with the doe a couple of days.”
The next morning, a Saturday, Niemitalo and his youngest son, Jared, headed back toward the field where they’d seen the 8-pointer.
“We got up pretty early, so I thought we might see him,” said Niemitalo, who had planted soybeans, oats and wheat in fields on his 40-acre farm, not only for the crops but to serve as food plots for deer.
As they were headed toward the hard-surface road about three-quarters of a mile from his house, they spied the doe standing on the shoulder of the driveway, then saw the buck nearby. Niemitalo raised his .30-06, aimed at the buck’s shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The deer trotted 10 or 15 steps and fell.
Niemitalo scored the buck’s rack, and the gross figures totaled in the mid-140s.
“He had 12-inch G2s and only a couple of deductions,” he said. “It’s my best buck.”
Niemitalo said he and his two sons, Jared and Isaac, 16, have worked for four years with a neighbor to not take small bucks.
“We’ve passed up 6-pointers and small 8-pointers the past four years,” he said. “We harvest a few does each year, and it’s paid off. I hadn’t seen a buck like this one in six years.”