Heading out to Townville to attempt to bag the big one Monday morning, Caleb DeRouchie said “I wasn’t expecting much of anything, except for rain.”

The Meadville resident said he hasn’t even seen a buck for the past five years, and the last one he bagged was just a small fry.

So sitting on a tree, watching a little squirrel scurrying nearby and still not expecting much, DeRouchie was understandably awestruck when he “looked left and saw him,” a 20-plus-point, grey-muzzled Whitetail buck — a big one by any standards.

From roughly 60 yards, DeRouchie said he shot one .12-gauge slug, then another, at what was the biggest buck he’s ever come across.

And “I got him.”

“I’ve never been so happy in my life,” he said with a wide grin as he proudly displayed the trophy buck at Monday’s big buck contest outside of Community Chevrolet.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” the 28-year-old longtime hunter said of the buck. “I have a monster.”

Another first came Monday for 14-year-old Nick Kightlinger of Vernon Township.

He bagged his first buck, an 8-pointer, that morning while hunting off of South Watson Run Road with his uncle, Dale Wimer.

“I heard a big crackle, and saw this thing leaping through,” he said.

Kightlinger said he shot two rounds out of his 7-millimeter and hit the buck. He caught up with it after tracking it for approximately 50 yards, using as an aid the little bit of snow that hadn’t melted on the unusually warm day. The temperature was actually 7 degrees off the record high for Nov. 28 of 70 degrees set in 1990, according to local meteorologist Tom Arno’s Web site.

“It’s pretty exciting — it’s really exciting,” he said while showing off his first kill at Monday night’s contest at Community Chevrolet. “It’s my first buck.”

At Safari Bar and Grill, other successful hunters came out to enter their

bagged bucks.

That contest’s coordinator, Bob Tatters of Bob’s Taxidermy, said Monday’s way-above-normal temperatures and lack of snow presented some challenges in terms of visibility and tracking deer. But “just keep stickin’ with it,” he recommended. “They’re out there.”

Ryan Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at rsmith@meadvilletribune.com

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