During the 2020 hunting season, C.J. Graf and his family began receiving pictures of a giant whitetail in mid-October. The deer was on the northeast Ohio property consistently, and the family had thousands of pictures of the deer. However, they were all at night. Despite the buck’s elusiveness, the family named him “Mega Tines.”
Aside from a close encounter with C.J.’s brother, Mega Tines eluded the family for all of last year. They had consistent pictures of the deer through the end of the hunting season, so they hoped to get an opportunity at him in 2021.
In July, C.J. and his family received their first trail camera picture of Mega Tines.
“When we got the picture, it was game on,” says C.J. “We started putting a whole plan together to hunt Mega Tines in the fall.”
C.J. and his family hunt a property that they have permission on. After receiving the first picture of Mega Tines, the family got permission from the landowner to plant a fall food plot on the property.
“We hoped that our fall food plot would suck him into our property after the local crops were harvested,” says C.J. “No one in our area is really doing anything like that.”
After the Graf family finished their summer work, Mega Tines showed up consistently at night. However, just a few weeks before opening day, he disappeared.
C.J. hunted Ohio’s archery opener on Sept. 25, but he didn’t have an encounter with Mega Tines. Two days later, on Monday, C.J. called his brother because he saw a cold front was moving in.
“I told him I had a plan, and that I was hunting Friday evening in our food plot,” says C.J.
On Friday Oct. 1, C.J. arrived at his blind at roughly 5:00 p.m. C.J. likes to self-film his hunts, so he took the time to properly set up his camera gear. His dad was hunting in a different location about 75 yards away.
After an uneventful evening, C.J.’s dad texted him and said he was going to climb down soon. C.J. began packing up his camera gear; however, as he put his camera away, he heard sticks breaking behind the blind. So, he texted his father to hold off on climbing down.
“Making time to text my dad not to get down was probably my smartest decision,” says C.J. “If I hadn’t, he probably would’ve walked to me, and I wouldn’t have gotten an opportunity.”
As more sticks broke behind the blind, C.J. readied his bow. C.J. hunts in an area with thick timber, so it is hard to see beyond the food plot. Just as light waned, a shooter buck stepped into the food plot at just 12 yards.
“He stepped out and I knew he was a shooter,” says C.J. “I made a perfect shot, and he took off and then I heard him crash.”
C.J. knew he shot a good buck, but he had no idea which deer it was.
“When Dad and I walked up on the deer, we couldn’t believe it was Mega Tines,” C.J. says. “It was crazy, I jumped into Dad’s arms.”
Soon after the initial recovery, C.J.’s brother joined the two hunters to admire the buck.
“We stood around that buck for 45 minutes before we did anything,” C.J. remembers. “All we wanted to do was get that deer, and I did it on my second sit of the year.”