Alfred Bowden Jr. knew the buck he shot back on Nov. 5 was big — he had shot four other deer that weighed more than 200 pounds in his hunting career, after all — but when the deer was hoisted on a scale a Bishop’s General Store in Jackman, he didn’t believe what he saw.

Neither did the person who was helping him tag the deer.

“(The store employee) didn’t think it was right,” Bowden said. “I didn’t think it was right. So he went in and got a second scale. They both rang up at 274.”

That’s 274 pounds, field-dressed.

And in a state where tagging a 200-pounder puts you in pretty elite company, a 274-pounder means you’ve likely taken the biggest deer you (or any of your friends) will ever see.

Bowden, a 62-year-old who lives in Long Pond Township, said that morning’s hunt hadn’t started exactly how he had planned.

“Depending on the weather conditions, I like to sit in the morning,” Bowden explained. “I was walking in, and it was raining lightly, and it wasn’t getting light as quickly as normal.”

As he walked, Bowden decided to change his plan and not continue all the way to the stand he’d chosen.

“It was getting light and I just stopped and stood behind a tree,” he said. “I wasn’t there 10 minutes and a doe came walking by. She stopped. She looked at me. I looked at her. And she probably wasn’t more than 16, 18 yards away.”

Bowden said the doe acted as if she was on a tether that was attached to him; the deer walked a slow circle around him, keeping a constant distance between them.

Then she stepped into a thicket, and disappeared.

Bowden, curious if there was another deer around, began slowly turning his head, and saw the “flag” of another deer’s tail. He also saw a large set of antlers, and when the buck provided him a broadside shot, he made it count.

“I wasn’t even sure how many points it had [when I got to the deer] because the rack had dug down into the ground. I could see five, six points at that time,” he said.

The deer actually had eight points, which Bowden said was a bit of a disappointment.

“I was kind of hoping it was a six-pointer,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve shot [deer with] one up to 11 [points], but I’ve never seen a six-pointer.”

Bowden, who said he began deer hunting with his dad more than 50 years ago, has had plenty of successful hunts over the year.

Back in 1968, when he took his first deer, the buck weighed 236 pounds. He followed that deer with other 200-pounders in 1991 (203 pounds), 2000 (248 pounds, while bowhunting), and 2009 (a 219-pound 11-pointer).

But this deer was one-of-a-kind.

“I measured it from the tip of its horns to its hooves [while it was hanging] and it’s about nine and a half feet,” Bowden said.

And while he says he had never sought attention for the other deer he shot, his wife convinced him that other hunters might be interested in the 274-pounder.

“I thought I had the biggest one I’d probably ever get,” Bowden said. “I am getting older, and they are getting harder to drag out of the woods.”

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