Originally published on Nov. 11, 2020
BROOKFIELD, Mo. -- Opening day of Missouri's main firearms season begins Saturday, and a lot of hunters will wish they could have the luck and skill of young Cole Huwar.
The 9-year-old hunter from Brookfield, Missouri, shot an absolutely massive whitetail buck on his dad's soybean field during the early youth portion of deer season over a week ago.
The 17-point buck's rack scored 201 and 7/8 inches, a giant in any hunter's book.
Cole's already a veteran hunter. He said he's taken several deer during his three- or four-year hunting career. But neither he nor his dad, Josh Huwar, were expecting the size of buck that chased a doe into the soybean field that warm November day.
"We were in a blind and it came out at 200 yards and got up to about 170 yards, chasing a doe," Cole recalled. "I got real excited and started shaking."
Joshua Huwar said he watched over his son, making sure he was holding his .22-250 Savage American rifle correctly and lining up the shot just right.
"I shot it and it fell straight down," Cole said. A second shot up close put the buck out for good.
"I knew it was the biggest deer I've ever seen," Joshua Huwar said. "There's very few 200-inch deer shot in Missouri, no less than by a 9-year-old boy."
He said he has enjoyed teaching his son to hunt, how to build deer hunting blinds, and grow food plots for deer. It'll be hard for Cole to top his big buck, but his dad has a plan.
"Perhaps take him on an elk hunt," he said.
Jason Isabell, the conservation department's cervid program supervisor, said Cole's buck was rare indeed.
"Although Missouri is known for producing some large-antlered bucks, deer that score over 200 inches are not common in our state or anywhere in the country for that matter," Isabell said. "A 200-plus-inch whitetail is a tremendous deer and a very unique animal."
Cole's story doesn't just end with a successful hunt. They donated the meat to a family that could use it.
Cole's dad also entered him in the fifth annual Outdoor Vigilantes youth hunt competition, where the boy's buck easily took first place out of the 81 youngsters from around the state who participated.
The next closest buck was a decent-scoring 181 and 1/8-incher.
"When Cole came in it was 'WOW!!' " said Kody Lucas, of Edgar Springs, Missouri, who produces the Outdoor Vigilantes hunting and fishing TV show. "I told him this is a deer of a lifetime. I've hunted deer a long time, but I've never killed a deer that breaks 200 inches."
Lucas and a friend, Larry Daniels of Miller Glass in Rolla, partnered to put on the annual Outdoor Vigilantes youth hunt competition, to try to encourage more youngsters to take up hunting and get outdoors.
Lucas said he not only was surprised by the size of Cole's buck, but by what the youngster did next. For taking first place, Cole won a new Savage deer rifle, a free cape mount of his buck and a bronze trophy.
"He said he wanted to keep the shoulder mount and the trophy, but wanted to donate the rifle back to us since he already had a good one," Lucas said. "I was shocked!"
That first-prize rifle went to a young hunter, Abby Overshon, who also surprised Lucas.
"She said she had a rifle, but her baby brother had been saving up his money to buy one of his own," Lucas said. "She gave it to him."
Reminder: Wear your hunter orange
The Missouri Department of Conservation reminds hunters not to forget their hunter orange before heading out the door for opening weekend of firearms deer season Nov. 14-24.
Hunters must wear a hunter orange hat and a hunter orange vest, shirt or coat. The color must be visible from all sides. Camouflage orange does not satisfy this rule.
“Hunting is an extremely safe activity when done responsibly,” said MDC Hunter Education Program Coordinator Justin McGuire. “One of those responsibilities is to make sure hunters and mentors are wearing the required hunter orange garments. Hunter orange clothing makes it easier for one hunter to spot and recognize another hunter because nothing in nature matches this color exactly.”
Hunters must wear hunter orange if:
- They are hunting any species of game during firearms deer season;
- They are hunting elk or accompanying an elk hunter during the firearms portion of elk season;
- They are hunting on an area that is having a managed firearms deer hunt;
- They are serving as a mentor to another hunter during firearms deer season or while on an area that is having a managed firearms deer hunt.
Hunters are not required to wear hunter orange if:
- They are hunting migratory game birds;
- They are archery hunting within municipal boundaries where the discharge of firearms is prohibited;
- They are hunting on federal or state land where deer hunting is restricted to archery methods;
- They are using an archery permit during the alternative methods portion;
- They are archery or small game hunting in a closed county during the antlerless portion;
- They are hunting small game or furbearers during the alternative methods portion;
- They are hunting small game or furbearers during the firearms portion of elk season.
Firearms deer season runs Nov. 14-24. The late youth portion is Nov. 27-29, followed by the antlerless portion Dec. 4-6.
The elk firearms portion is Dec. 12-20. The alternative methods portion for deer runs Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, 2021. Archery season runs now through Nov. 13 and Nov. 25 through Jan. 15, 2021.