Buck of a lifetime: Edwardsville hunter drops mammoth 25-pointer with his bow That's it. Joe Graber is done deer hunting. Of course, the 35-year-old construction worker from Edwardsville is joking. There's no way he would give up his favorite pastime, something he's been doing since elementary school. But if Graber hunts another 35 years, chances are good he won't top what he did on Oct. 26. Bowhunting in the rain on private ground in Madison County, Graber shot a monster 25-point buck that will likely have the largest rack of any whitetail harvested in southwestern Illinois this season. [/IMG] Joe Graber with 25-point buck. - Provided/BND "I told everybody I'm selling all my bow stuff and all my deer-hunting stuff, because I won't be able to top that one," Graber said. "I don't know many people that would be able to." Graber's Madison County monster has the largest rack reported to the News-Democrat so far during both the bow and first firearm season. The nontypical kill was rough-scored by two independent parties. The first had the rack measured at 209 5/8 inches; the second, who's actually a certified scorer, had it measured at 217 4/8 inches. If the deer measures 215 inches after the minimum 60-day drying period, Graber has himself a Boone and Crockett Club trophy. That's the pinnacle all deer hunters shoot for. This time, Graber reached it. "Deer of a lifetime -- easily," said Graber, who's previous biggest kill was a 12-pointer last year that measured in the 140-inch range. Graber knew this monster lurked in the timber, because he's caught glimpses of it the past four years. "I knew he was out there, but the only time I had ever seen him was in the dark when he was chasing does across the road that I leave and come in at," Graber said. "I had no idea exactly how big he was. I knew he was big, but I had no idea he was as big as he was. "This was one crafty deer. There's people on other ridges around there that hunt, and nobody has been able to bring him down." Graber positioned his climbing stand near a trail he was sure the buck was using in pursuit of does. Graber did his homework; he used Google Earth to map the property and pinpoint the most likely avenue the buck would use. It was near a creek that was starting to fill with water because of the heavy rains. "I knew which creek he was cutting across and what finger of land he was using," Graber said. "There's houses on each side of it, so I knew that was the only place he would come through. I didn't think I'd ever get him to come through in daylight hours." Because the temperature when he set up his stand at 2 p.m. was 65 degrees, Graber only wore a light jacket. By 5:30 p.m. with dusk falling, he was starting to get cold and wondering if he should pack up for the day. Fifteen minutes later, the buck came bounding through the timber and ran straight through the creek at exactly the spot Graber had mapped. He turned broadside at 40 yards. "He came straight out of that creek and got to exactly where I was," Graber said. "He stuck his head up and knew something wasn't right. I'm sure he smelled me. I had problems picking him up in my sights because it was kind of foggy and getting dark." Graber drew his bow, but the arrow was deflected as it hit a tree or a branch. What started out as lung shot ended up going straight through the buck's ear. The deer flipped in the air, skidded down an embankment and dropped off a 20-foot cliff into the water, where it drowned. Graber was stunned the arrow through the ear dropped the buck. "Real surprised," Graber said. "I heard it hit. It sounded like a firecracker went off. It pretty much paralyzed him." It took several hours for Graber and a buddy to fish the deer out of the creek in the rain and darkness. As word spread of how he killed the buck, Graber said he's been taking some heat from fellow deer hunters. "They were saying you should never take a shot unless you have a clean shot and this and that," Graber said. "It's not like I aimed for his head. I shoot my bow all summer, and I can keep it in a 3-inch circle at 35 yards pretty much with my eyes closed. "It wasn't like I didn't know what I was doing or didn't feel comfortable with the shot. It hit something, and I got lucky."