When Josh and four of his hunting buddies lined up to push a small 2-acre thicket, they couldn’t have imagined what was about to happen.
Despite being only 17, Josh Kraus of Morrow County, Ohio, was a seasoned veteran of the outdoors. In a recent conversation with him, he expressed his love for hunting, stating, “I love the woods. I’m pretty much in a treestand or in the woods every day after school.”
It came as no surprise that his favorite things to do were hunt, trap, and anything else outdoor related. Up to this point, Josh had spent countless hours in a treestand hoping to get a crack at a big whitetail with his bow. Unfortunately, as we all know, it’s called hunting and not killing for a reason, and so far, it’s been just that for Josh.
Josh with his giant main frame 7×7 typical. The buck has a 24″ inside spread.
On Saturday, December 17th, Josh and his friends, Tristan, Zack, Trent, and Legend (man… what a Legendary name!) met around 11am to do some deer drives during Ohio’s gun season. Morrow County is very flat and fertile, thus, it’s dominated by a lot of open farmland and sporadic pockets of timber – perfect for pushing and perfect for growing big bucks.
The five of them discussed how the drive would be executed and took to their spots accordingly. Josh and his buddy Zack would be the posters, while Trent, Legend, and Tristan would be the pushers. Being surrounded by cut corn fields, the small block of timber set up for a relatively easy push. Now, they just had to hope there was some deer hiding in the thicket.
Not long into the drive, that question was answered, as a group of four does came busting out of the end Josh and Zack were posted up on.
Josh shot several times at the does, but flat out missed on every shot. Frustrated, Josh reloaded his Mossberg 500 youth model 20 gauge with little hope of anything else coming out of the small block of timber. Soon after, as Josh was watching his buddy Zack make the push towards him, he caught a glimpse of a rack. The guys started hollering back and forth to keep the buck moving towards the posters. As the pushers closed the distance, the buck stared at Josh, then back at Zack, unsure of where to run.
A trail cam pic of the giant buck one week earlier. Amazingly, this buck was caught on trail camera 5 miles from where it was shot!
Finally, after the stare down, the buck busted out of the side of the woodlot about 150-yards from Josh. With the recent misses on his mind, Josh once again shouldered his open-sighted shotgun and squeezed off a shot. The buck was hit, but continued on, using the strength of his front legs. By now, Josh was running towards the deer to get a closer second shot. When he got to about 50-yards from the deer, he fired again and the buck went down.
The guys started celebrating at the sight, but none of them had any idea of how big the buck actually was. Initially, Josh said he thought it was just a decent medium sized buck… that was until he walked up to it and saw the rack standing a full two feet off the ground in the middle of the cut corn field. Excitement and shock ensued as the five of them started giving high-5’s, and roughing each other.
As the excitement settled, they came to recognize this buck from trail cam pictures that circulated the area – it was Mr. Ribcage! Amazingly, Josh had pictures of this buck on his main hunting grounds 5 miles away, and another hunter had him on trail cam 2 miles away the night before!
If you look close you see where the second shot grazed his skull. Miraculously, the slug didn’t crack or break the skull.
The buck can’t officially be scored until February 17th following the mandatory 60-day drying period. Unofficial scores came in at 218 inches gross, and 201 inches net typical – narrowly missing out on becoming the largest typical whitetail ever taken in the United States if the scores holds close. Josh plans on getting a shoulder mount done and enjoying his favorite meal – venison steak and tenderloin on the grill!