Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2012, 7:23 pm

Off the bucket list

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Bob Groene,

Photo: Submitted
Mike Nordstrom of Wisconsin kneels behind the antlers of his buck of a lifetime while his brother Dan Nordstrom of Orion look on. The unusual non-typical trophy buck has 17 scorable points, green gross scored about 190 , weighed 216 pounds field dressed and was thought to be 5 1/2 years old.
Setting the stage: It's Sunday afternoon, Nov. 3, whitetail deer pre-rut, somewhere in the expanded Quad City area.

"The wind was perfect -- low and from the perfect direction," said Mike Nordstrom of near Milwaukee, Wis. "But after I got into the stand, it changed to an unfavorable direction."

Nordstrom had some concern with the unpredicted wind change, but sitting high in a tree stand and considering the scent control measures taken, it would probably be OK. He had showered with scent control soap, put on fresh scent-free laundered, scent-control hunting clothes stored in special bags and put on at hunt site. Including a head cover—'lot's of human scent is released from one's head,' he told me.

Around 2:30, a button buck arrived, stayed about 20 minutes and left; then little happened over the next couple of hours.

"At 4:45 a small 6-point buck came in," he said. "He walked up toward the four mock scrapes, started working one and licking an overhead branch. About 30 seconds later, I heard a noise and slowly turned my head to see a huge deer coming down the same trail as the 6-pointer. Looking through branches, I could see a lot of mass in his antlers; and quickly determined he was a shooter.

"I didn't look at his antlers or even at the buck. I looked ahead of him to where I thought he would go looking for shot opportunities. And he did exactly what the 6-pointer ahead of him had done. He went to the same scrape and licked the same overhead branch.

"When he put his head down, I went to full draw. He stepped into the open then quartered away. I locked on his pump-house, released the arrow and watched it hit the target area. He turned, ran 40 yards, stopped, got wobbly legs and dropped.

"While waiting in the stand 10 minutes I watched the 6-pointer, who had stuck around, walk up to the downed buck and check him out. And re-thinking what all had just happened, I was shocked at how calm I had stayed, and that everything had gone absolutely perfect."

Nordstrom's non-typical buck-of-a-lifetime had 17-scorable points, green-gross scored around 190, weighed 216 pounds field-dressed and is thought to be 5½ years old. Even more amazing is that two of the tines were freshly broken-off meaning the antlers well could have scored something north of 200 before breaking.

Nordstrom, whose day job as ear, nose and throat physician/surgeon is the slightly older brother of Quad City deer hunt authority Dan Nordstrom, whose deer accomplishments have graced these pages more than once. Dan has also been featured several times in national deer hunt magazines -- most recently in the December issue of Boat & Arrow Hunt -- the subject of a how-to article, which I highly recommend as a must read for aspiring and veteran deer hunters alike who wish to move up the learning curve.

"This hunt was a continuation of my 50th birthday present from Dan last year," Mike continued. "I didn't score last year, so Dan said to come back for a week this year, and I certainly did. I learned that I was on his bucket list -- he wanted me to have the opportunity to harvest a monster buck of a lifetime -- and solely because of him, I did."

"Yes, it was on my bucket list for my brother to get a monster buck," Dan said smiling. "But don't think for a moment he just showed up and shot that buck.

"He came here in August to learn all the sets and stands and how to get to and from them undetected by deer and he practiced shooting all potential shots to have complete confidence in any shot presented. He played the correct wind, used great scent control, range-findered all around so he knew how far all shots would be, did not look at the antlers after determining it was a shooter, then made a great high steep-angle shot where he had to aim two inches low to hit the exact spot.

"He was fully prepared. And when the opportunity was there, he executed perfectly."

Bob Groene is outdoors writer for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, he can be reached at