By: Jason Houser

It was the first year Travis Cockburn used trail cameras on the Williamson County farm in Illinois that he and his family hunt. What his cameras caught in mid-August of 2011 changed the way the family would hunt come October 1st, the first day of Illinois bow season.

Many trail cam photos were taken of a giant “Booner” during the summer months that was nick-named ‘Ginormica’ by Travis’ eight year old son.

Travis, his dad, brother and nephew began to focus their attention on learning everything they could about the big buck. The main problem was the only photos taken were between 2 and 4 in the a.m.. However, there was one sighting of the monster by a coon hunter in the early light hours of the morning.

Focusing on killing the book buck, the foursome started making plans as to where they could hunt.
Travis decided to take his chance during firearm season and did manage to take a big nine-pointer but bow season was approaching and that is where he really set his sights on ‘Ginormica’.

During early bow season Travis saw some Pope and Young class bucks but none ever presented him with a good shot. He did draw on a couple of nice does that made good table fare but there were still no sign of ‘Ginormica’.

When not hunting Travis continued to scout for the big buck and eventually came across two main trails that intersected at a scrape the size of a small Volkswagen. This had to be ‘Ginormica’ he thought.

The camera told the story but always between 2 and 4 am.


Having found what he thought was the spot he then set about to find a suitable for his Summit Viper Climber Tree Stand. Unfortunately, a few years before, a bad storm had toppled most of the trees on the farm making finding the perfect tree that much more difficult. Then, on Thanksgiving Day he found one tree that was only 35-yards from the scrape and 20 yards from a nearby creek crossing, things were looking up. There was no hunting that Friday or Saturday due to heavy rains and Sunday morning, November 27th, the Cockburn family made their usual journey to church. After arriving back home the rain had stopped and Travis had to decide whether to hunt, watch football or take a nap. Fortunately for him, he decided to camo up and go hunting.

By 2:15 in the afternoon, the rain was all but gone and Travis set out to his stand for the first time. The rain made the woods deafly quiet as, once on stand, he strained to hear any sounds of approaching deer. Nothing.

Then, movement. A large bobcat came into view. Travis sat still but the cat looked up and the two predators locked eyes. After about a five minute staredown the cat decided it had better things to do and moved on. .
Surrounded by a quiet woods, the only action being the bobcat Travis decided to share his boredom with a friend. His good buddy was hunting a few miles so texting a short message Travis texted he hoped he was having better luck. 30 minutes later that would all change.

4:15 arrived and Travis was shaken back to reality with splashing sounds coming from the creek behind and to his left. Turning slowly, looking back and down he saw a huge buck knee deep in the water.

Readying himself for a shot, hoping the big buck would come the right way Travis watched as the buck calmly walked out of the creek and up on the bank presenting a 15 yard, broadside shot. Not really sure if the buck was ‘Ginormica’ he settled his sight behind the shoulder and released his arrow. With a loud ‘thwack’ the arrow hit its mark and instantly the buck jumped sideways and into a dead run. Travis was able to keep an eye on the buck for about 50-yards, before losing sight of him in the thick brush.

Texting his buddy, Travis excitedly tapped out that he wasn’t sure but thought he had just shot ‘Ginormica’.

Fairly certain the shot was a pass-through, hitting both lungs he went to the spot of the hit and found the arrow coated bubbly blood. With the shot being played over and over in his mind, he knew the shot was a killing shot. He called his father and brother to come help him find and carry out this trophy buck.

Travis’s father arrived shortly after and together they started following an ample blood trail approximately 5 yards from where Travis found his arrow. They found the buck seventy yards from where Travis had found his arrow.

It hard to describe the excitement and back slapping but every hunter who has experienced it knows the feeling. Excitement, pleasure, relief, satisfaction and pride all rolled up in handshakes and hugs and perhaps a touch of disbelief. After all these months of waiting, planning and hoping, the buck they named ‘Ginormica’ was on the ground. With four friends in tow the five men were able to drag the once-in-a-lifetime buck out the thickets and with numerous people counting tines, all with different numbers, the final count was 29 scoreable points. If it was not for a broken G-5 on the left side, it would have been the 30-point buck.

With bases measuring 8 ½ -inches and 7 ½ -inches the largest deer killed in the United States for 2011-2012 deer seasons measured a whopping 261 5/8-inches. The largest tine measured 12 ½ -inches with the smallest mass circumference 5 ½-inches.

It just doesn’t get any better than this for Travis Cockburn and the huge smile proves it. Truly a buck of a lifetime.

This deer was recently recognized as the top non-typical whitetail at the Pope and Young convention held in Dallas, Texas for 2011-2012 seasons and is the fourth largest bow-killed buck in Illinois history. I had the pleasure to visit Travis at his home and to hold this massive rack. It was an experience I will never forget.

Equipment Used
Real Tree Camo
Bowtech Alliegance
Carbon Express Arrows
G5 T3 Expandable Broad heads
Nikon Optics
Summitt Tree stand Viper