Chad Garteski, of Byron, took this Winona County bruiser while bowhunting Sept. 18. The antlers had 13 points and green-scored 184 (gross). The inside spread was 19 inches, and the antlers included one drop tine.
Garteski’s bluff-country monster proves big things can come from small packages
By Scott Bestul, Contributing Writer
If you think you need a massive estate to consistently grow mature whitetails, Chad Garteski might beg to differ. Garteski arrowed a 184-inch monster on a 100-acre tract in southeastern Minnesota on Sept. 18.
The heavy-racked buck was one Garteski knew well.
“He was just a regular, not only on that farm, but in a certain corner that other mature bucks use frequently. I was obviously excited when he showed up, but not surprised,” Garteski said.
The Winona County buck was actually one Garteski, an expert whitetailer who owns Weiss Realty and sells hunting properties for a living, had targeted a year earlier.
“There were several nice bucks using that farm, but that buck was special to me. I called him the ‘Jam‑4’ buck because he’d jammed his G4 on something (while) in velvet and had an acorn on the end of that point. Between that and his frame, it was hard to mistake him.”
After a summer packed with trail cam images of the buck, Garteski nearly killed him the morning of Nov. 1, 2021.
“I spotted him walking across a field about 200 yards out and hit the rattling antlers,” he said. “He turned on a dime and came trotting in, then stopped to rub a tree about 30 yards away. If he stepped on one side of the tree I had a great shot, and if he went the other way I knew he’d probably wind me. Well, he went the wrong way and stiff-legged it across the field. He knew something wasn’t quite right. I was afraid he was really spooked, but I got a pic of him on a trail cam early that very afternoon.”
Garteski shot another fine buck last fall, a heavy-beamed buck that grossed in the 150s, and was relieved when trail cam images revealed that the Jam‑4 buck had survived the
“I had plenty of winter food – corn, soybeans, and brassicas – on the farm so I was pulling in deer and I was getting plenty of pics of him,” he said.
“Finally in February, I had pics of a shed buck that I was sure was him. I went out on Feb. 14 and found both sides, lying only 15 yards apart. They scored 73 inches each, and still had blood on the bases, so he’d shed them within the last day or so.”
As the summer of 2022 progressed, the Jam‑4 buck returned to his favorite area on Garteski’s farm.
“I actually think he was kind of conditioned to me,” Garteski said, laughing. “I’d go to that spot to mow, or check a camera, and within an hour or two of me leaving he’d be in front of the camera, in daylight. So he was obviously living somewhere close by. I was pretty excited about my chances for the archery opener.”
Sunday, Sept. 18, was the second day of the 2022 archery season. While the weather was quite warm, Garteski had the perfect wind for a setup where he thought the Jam‑4 buck might appear.
“This stand is by what I call a ‘pocket plot’ of clover and chicory next to the woods,” he said. “There’s also good shooting to a pond tight to the timber. Bucks love to hit that spot on their way out to bigger ag fields, and most of my pics of the Jam‑4 buck came from a camera there.”
As the afternoon wore on, Garteski realized that the high temperatures probably were suppressing deer movement. As it turned out, he saw only one deer, but it was the right one.
“About prime time I could hear a deer moving,” Garteski said. “When I finally saw the deer, I knew it was the Jam‑4 buck, but he looked strange, and then I realized he had shreds of velvet hanging off and twisted around his rack. He disappeared into some brush for a while, but I could still hear him in there. Finally, he walked out on the pond dike and he shook his head back and forth. With that hanging velvet going back and forth, it was a pretty amazing sight.”
Eventually the buck stepped into the pond to drink and Garteski had a perfect 40-yard broadside shot.
“I settled in and picked a spot, then took the shot,” he said. “I knew the buck was in trouble immediately and I was pretty sure I heard him crash. I texted my friend Joe Braun to see if he could come help me, and he said he was on his way. When Joe got there we had a short track job. The buck had gone only 70 yards and died only 50 yards from where I’d found his sheds in February.”
While one side of the Jam‑4’s rack had lost a little tine length, the buck had more than made up for it by piling on mass.
“While he was only 4 3⁄4 inches at the base, he was over 6 1⁄2 inches on the other circumferences,” Garteski said. “His longest tines were over 11 inches, one main beam was 28 1⁄2 inches long, and we came up with a rough gross of 184-inch-plus.
“To be honest, I didn’t do the best job of scoring him, because I wanted the taxidermist to preserve all the velvet still on him and I didn’t want to mess that up. It was hanging in some places, and almost braided around his tines and beams in others. I sent the pic to a few friends who thought it was barbed wire wrapped around him. He’s a pretty incredible buck, and I couldn’t be happier.”