Welch woman kills massive 200-pound deer with 27-point rack
Kelly Gustafson's massive buck may not look like wrestler Brock Lesnar, but it certainly appears to be "the next big thing."
Standing at 200 pounds and wielding a 27-point rack, the buck was a monster whose size had stunned Gustafson and relatives after first witnessing him on trail cameras placed on the family's hunting land in Welch Township.
This buck stood out -- enough to compare him to Ultimate Fighting Championship behemoth Lesnar, who was once ascribed the title "The Next Big Thing."
Yet with a steady hand on her muzzle-loader, Gustafson harvested the buck -- which she dubs "Lesnar" -- Saturday from 40 yards.
"We were just amazed at this deer," the Welch Township woman said, recalling images of "Lesnar" from the trail cameras.
Gustafson will wait 60 days to see how the buck measures up in the pantheon of big Minnesota bucks. If it were scored today, "Lesnar"
would be the state's 45th biggest non-typical buck in the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association record book, at 204 6/8.
Regardless, Gustafson knows she felled a big fella.
"Nobody in the area's ever seen anything this big," said the 23-year- old, who has been a hunter for 11 years.
Heading out to hunt Saturday, Gustafson's dander immediately spiked when she noticed several rubs and scrapes -- indications of a buck in rut -- that weren't there just days before, when she bow-hunted the area.
After climbing into her father-in-law's stand -- he had taken the morning off from hunting -- Gustafson waited and watched.
At about 7 a.m., a doe "came boltin' through the woods" into her area. Experience told Gustafson something was chasing the doe.
Then the winds swirled -- enough to pick up Gustafson's scent and freeze the doe.
"She knew somebody was there," she said.
But they weren't alone.
Out the corner of her eye, Gustafson spotted the buck. As he
emerged, she saw he was broad. The rack seemed big -- so big she couldn't count the tines, an exercise she and her family practice as part of trail management.
"Lesnar" approached the doe. Gustafson brought up her muzzle loader as the buck was in half-leap.
"I didn't have time to get nervous," she said.
The true shot didn't require tracking the buck. She climbed down and found the buck dead.
Gustafson then lifted his head, revealing the expansive rack.
"That's when my adrenaline kicked in," she said.
The kill has impressed many in the area, including her husband, Rich, and father-in-law, Robert Gustafson.
"She should be pretty proud," said Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Tyler Quandt. "That's a nice deer."
If there's one concern, it's that photos of Gustafson and the deer show her without blaze orange on her head and body -- a requirement for deer hunters in gun season.
The explanation, Gustafson said, is that she used her orange hat and gloves to clean blood off the deer for the photo.
Quandt said he discussed the situation with her and fully believes the buck was taken while she was wearing orange.
"I absolutely don't think there's anything wrong with her taking the picture without the orange," he said.