We spoke with the hunter who shot this three-antlered buck that’s truly one-of-a-kind!
Antlers are one of nature’s wonders, and just when we think we’ve seen it all, nature throws a new, unique curveball into the mix. There seems to be no end to the unique variations and freak deformities whitetails can grow under the right circumstances. Sometimes, that includes growing a whole extra antler from the same or a separate pedicle.
That was the case with Michigan resident Chris Kallgren’s extremely unique 2014 Illinois whitetail, a buck he and his buddies appropriately named “The Freak.”
This special buck’s incredible 41 extra inches of non-typical antler take a good buck and turn him into something truly unique.
We spoke with Kallgren to get more of the story, and can distinctly say this is a buck like we’ve never seen before.
The Hunt for a Special Buck
Kallgren told me he didn’t hunt as a kid, but he grew up loving the outdoors anyway. As an adult working in Michigan, he noticed all his co-workers consistently took off November 15 every year. As an outdoor lover, he knew he was missing out on something.
This led him to start hunting. After harvesting his first buck, a nice 8-pointer in 1989, he was hooked.
Years later, his buddies leased a 235-acre farm located in prime whitetail country. The spot was in Coles County, Illinois and owned by Steve Shrader. The land, located near Hutton, is mostly farmland, but it’s marked with deep wooded draws that help attract the deer and hold them. Kallgren and his buddies would try to hold out for bucks that will score at least 140 or better.
“I got in (to the property) late in 2013 and I hunted the muzzleloader season,” Kallgren said. “I took a nice 8-point.”
Fast-forward to the 2014 season and Kallgren finally had a chance to bowhunt the property. It didn’t take long before he harvested a unique five- or six-year-old 4×2 buck with his bow. It was one his buddies thanked him for culling out of the herd, but Kallgren was thrilled because he thought it was such a cool buck. He had no idea an even cooler one was still to come.
In his home state of Michigan, Kallgren, like many hunters, uses a straight wall .450 Bushmaster rifle. Illinois has yet to legalize these new types of cartridges for hunting. Because of those restrictions, Kallgren was carrying his Traditions muzzleloader with a 3-9×40 scope on opening day of firearms season, November 21, 2014.
“I use a muzzleloader there in Illinois because it reaches out, it’s just more accurate than a shotgun,” Kallgren said.
That year, opening morning of firearms season dawned with perfect conditions. It was 25 degrees and a light dusting of snow had increased visibility.
“It was crisp,” Kallgren said. “You could see deer at a distance with that amount of snow, and you could hear them. They weren’t going to sneak up on you.”
While his hunting buddies prefer to sit all day, Kallgren feels like the mid-afternoon is more of a lull time, at least in his experience. After taking his usual break in the afternoon, he decided to head to a stand located near the back of the property.
“This was a big section of woods, probably 20 acres of woods,” Kallgren said. “[We called it] Hurricane Creek. It’s often dry, and you can walk up the creek to the stands, which is a great route.”
Unfortunately, as he made his way to the stand, he kicked up six does which promptly left the area.
“That’s exactly why my buddies don’t want me to move,” Kallgren said, alluding to his regular midday break.
Undeterred, he headed for his stand anyway and settled in to wait. Luck was on his side, and the does returned roughly half an hour later. They split up into two groups on both sides of him and circled back to the direction they came. Then they all bedded down. This ended up being fortunate for Kallgren, because about an hour later, a buck came in and stirred up the does.
“I did not put binoculars on him because it looked like he was moving quick,” Kallgren said. “You just know when a deer qualifies as a shooter, and I knew, so I didn’t want to take the time to glass him.”
Because the buck was rutting and it looked like he could disappear at any moment, Kallgren took the 100-yard quartering away shot when he had the chance. Kallgren knew the shot had been a good one as he watched the buck run about 60 yards and disappear over a ridge.
Because he knew the shot was lethal, Kallgren only waited about ten to fifteen minutes before following up on the buck. He found blood right away and it didn’t take him long to locate his buck. Upon first glance he started second-guessing his decision to take the deer, as it didn’t appear to hit that 140-inch mark. The buck’s left side was hidden among vegetation and leaf litter, so he couldn’t yet see just how special it was.
“I thought: ‘Oh, gosh, I thought you were better,'” Kallgren said with a laugh. “I picked up his antler and I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness. Holy cow, look at you, you are something special!'”
He quickly re-hid the buck’s unique features back in the leaves because the landowner’s son Rob was coming to look at the deer.
“I wanted to surprise him too, the way I was surprised,” Kallgren said.
The hunter and his buddies were indeed surprised. All were shocked, because they had no clue the non-typical buck was in the area. They had no trail camera photos and no sightings prior to Kallgren shooting the deer. It was only later that they learned from a local processor that one of the neighbors had photos and had missed a 25- to 30-yard shot at it during archery season.
The main frame of the buck scores around 137 inches. However, the extra bit of antler, which sprouts from the same pedicle, sports two crab claws and an extra 41 inches of antler. Amazingly, the big buck only broke one small extra sticker point located inside one of the crab claws.
Kallgren took it to an SCI show in Lansing where it was initially scored at 178 2/8 inches. Another scorer later came up with 179 2/8 gross and 168 6/8 net for the non-typical.
Kallgren is retired these days and hopes to downsize his home and his belongings at some point. He said he would like to donate the deer to Cabela’s, where he gets most of his outdoor gear. He’s had some discussions about it with the manager of one store in Michigan, but just hasn’t gotten around to doing that just yet.
Personally, he thinks it would be a good fit in the Hammond, Indiana Cabela’s since it has a display solely dedicated to Illinois deer.
“I would love for this deer to be publicly displayed,” Kallgren said. “It deserves that.”
Until then, it will remain with Kallgren and serve as a reminder that a whitetail’s antler never cease to amaze the most dedicated hunters.
The post Hunter Shares Story of "The Freak," a Giant Three-Antlered Deer From Illinois appeared first on Wide Open Spaces.