Luke McNally of Bangor shot a 12-point buck that weighed in at 230 pounds.
What is special about that is Luke McNally is 10 years old and had never hunted for deer before. About 2 ½ hours into his hunt on youth day Oct. 20, he shot a buck of a lifetime.
Some of Luke’s family likes to hunt, including his first cousin John McNally, who took him hunting after school on the first of the state’s two youth hunt days.
Luke said he was looking forward to the hunt with John but he didn’t have any real interest in hunting before this opportunity. He had been partridge hunting with his family before.
John McNally, 23, who recently became a Registered Maine Guide, is an experienced hunter who has been hunting since he was 6 or 7. He got a moose permit at age 10 and killed an animal with a 64 ½-inch antler spread, which was the second largest in 2010.
John had been watching several deer on his game camera for a few days in Zone 23, mostly does and spike horn bucks, but did see the big buck a couple days before. He thought it would be a good place for Luke to hunt so he took his cousin to his double tree stand where they waited.
John saw movement around 5:30 p.m. He whispered “big buck” to Luke. Luke didn’t see it and whispered back “big bug?” John told him to get ready. Then Luke saw the buck, aimed and killed it with one shot to the heart at a distance of about 30 yards.
Luke said he wasn’t nervous or shaking, but John was.
The buck kicked back its legs and ran what turned out to be about 55 yards, Luke said.
John called Luke’s dad, Garth McNally, who brought a flashlight to help find the deer. There was no blood trail, which made it difficult, Luke said.
Finally around 8:30 p.m., Garth found the deer lying mostly concealed in a ditch at the foot of a ridge. He and Luke whooped their success and John thought it was coyotes that had found the kill.
John was just calling a person who has a tracking dog to help them find the deer when Garth found it.
Luke said he was a little squeamish so John gutted the deer while Luke helped by holding the leg up during part of the process. Luke said he carried the heart out himself though.
It was too late to register the deer that night by the time they dragged it to the vehicle. The McNallys got up really early the next day to take it to a tagging station because Luke’s brother Tyler, 8, had a hockey game in Falmouth.
The woman at the tagging station was really impressed with the deer, Luke said.
“And we took it to the butcher too,” he said.
More than a dozen of Luke’s family members tried to guess the deer’s weight and his aunt came up with the exact figure.
Amy McNally, Luke’s mom, said she was surprised and happy for her son. His dad thought it was cool that John was with him since Luke’s cousin loves to hunt.
Luke likes deer meat and would have liked to have had some of the heart, but the family ate it without him, he said.
Luke said he didn’t do a lot of preparation for his hunt, just some target practice on a deer silhouette with vital organs outlined the day before. He started out missing the target consistently, but with some height adjustments he was good to go.
John said his sister Emma had been watching the big buck on the game camera and wanted to get it. She thought her brother was joking when he told her Luke had shot it, John said.
“I was so proud of him. I would have it this way 10 times out of 10. It’s better helping other people get their animals than getting them myself,” said John, who explained that Luke is the fourth person he’s taken to shoot their first deer.
Luke’s favorite part of his hunt was taking the deer’s head to the taxidermist and seeing the other mounts the craftsman had done, including the bears, foxes and his favorite — a moose head, Luke said. His least favorite part was gutting the deer.
When asked what advice he would give adult hunters, the 10-year-old said don’t think too much about whether you are going to get the deer, just do it.
And what’s next for Luke?
“I want to get a bigger one,” he said.