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Hunting and family go hand-in-hand for Jason Krebs.
That’s why Saturday was such a monumental high and low for the Neligh man as he landed his buck of a lifetime - a monster whitetail with an 11x9 non-typical rack - on opening day in Antelope County.
In the stand with his 11-year-old son Talon, Krebs took the deer at 10:30 a.m. Saturday - just over 2 hours after receiving word that his 100-year-old grandmother had passed away.
“I nudged Talon and said, ‘I think Grandma had something to do with that,’” Krebs said. “I looked at Talon, and he just nodded and smiled.”
While Helena Kaczor of Ewing wasn’t a hunter, she was a big influence on the family, and family is what made Saturday so special for Krebs.
“It was the first time Talon had gone with me during opening day,” Krebs said. “I’d taken Ashton a couple of times on opening day and several days throughout the previous seasons, but this year he was in his own stand about 400 yards away.”
Krebs takes hunting seriously - and not just the deer he shoots. He’s a strong believer in respect and made sure his 14-year-old son was ready to hunt on his own before allowing it. Ashton spent the last two seasons in the stand next to his dad.
This year, it was Talon’s turn, although with the snow “coming down like a bear,” the Neligh-Oakdale fifth-grader was almost ready to head home about 45 minutes before the big one appeared. Luckily, they stayed in the stand, and Krebs shot the deer at 75 yards.
“He came out of nowhere,” said Krebs, who hadn’t seen the deer before that day - in person or on camera.
The buck appeared quickly within heavy cover, leaving little time for Krebs to think about the monster in front of him. With only a profile view, Krebs said he definitely knew the deer was a shooter but didn’t know the full extent of large the non-typical deer was.
“I didn’t have much time to think about it, thankfully,” Krebs said with a chuckle. “It’s probably a good thing. There wasn’t any buck fever that way.”
The deer went another 20 yards before falling. They could see the deer from the stand but still didn’t have a good look at him. Ten minutes later, they made the walk and were shocked at what they saw.
“Typically, there’s ground shrinkage as you walk up there,” Krebs said smiling. “This was the opposite. We were shocked at how big it was.”
Krebs said the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission estimated the dear at 5 1/2 years old. The rack is so large it will be green scored with the Boone and Crocket Club, which is the oldest wildlife conservation organization in North America and founded in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell.
Krebs said a non-typical whitetail must be scored at 195 points to make the elite club. He’ll know whether his buck makes the cut in a couple of months.
The largest non-typical deer harvested in Antelope County by a firearm was in 1965 by Leon McCoy of Neligh. That deer scored 208 1/8 inches and hung in McCoy’s office in Neligh for years.
Although shot nearly a decade before he was even born, Krebs remembers of the deer - as do many longtime Antelope County residents.
Will Krebs’ deer match the feat? It’s too early to tell, but Krebs has something better than a record - he has the memory. The memory of a hunt of a lifetime and was able to share in that experience with his boys.
“This was a very memorable experience for me and my sons,” he said. “It was a day with a low and a high, but the best part was having them be able to enjoy it with me.”