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Go where bucks are

Like most every hunter, Glenn Kalenberg dreamed of that one trophy buck.

We all know what it would look like: a massive rack with points sticking out like branches on a tree, tall and powerful, looking like it owns the forest.

Kalenberg, 50, from Litchfield, realized his dream a few weeks ago, but he had to go to Missouri to do it.

"Four of the guys that went this year had gone down last year," Kalenberg said. "They liked what they saw with opportunities to get a big buck."

In 2004, the Missouri Conservation Department started a pilot antler restriction program which required a buck to have "at least four points on one side" to be legally harvested. The program has been enforced in 29 counties and it ends after this season.

Kalenberg and 12 others in his group took to the trees in north central Missouri, in Adair County, early on the morning of Nov. 8.

"At about 8 a.m., I was in my tree and I saw what I thought was a doe. Then another deer came behind it, but it was about 600 yards away. I was on the right side of the ditch, then they crossed the ditch," he recalled.

By the time the deer reached about 250 yards, Kalenberg could tell it was a buck, but didn't know how big it could be.

"At one point, it looked like he was going to go into the woods from about 250 yards away. I decided it was my best chance, so I took the shot. He went right down," he said.

He climbed down from the stand after waiting a few moments, then headed right for the buck.

It was huge. It turned out to be a 19-point buck and his group estimated it was about 200 pounds field-dressed.

"I didn't realize it was the biggest buck I've shot in my 36 years of hunting," he said.

Unfortunately for the rest of his hunting party, it was the only deer tag they filled.

But that's only part of the story. Going to Missouri has been an experience Kalenberg won't forget soon, and not because of the trophy buck he harvested. He came away from the trip with a new attitude about deer management.

"I've talked to a lot of hunters and we'd like to see some of the laws changed," he said. "I hadn't had an opportunity in 36 years to take a trophy."

He said many hunters in Minnesota want to get a trophy buck, but will settle instead for the four- or six-pointers, which doesn't leave many to grow older and into ones like the monster Kalenberg got in Missouri.

"It would be nice to get bigger deer in Minnesota," he said. "I don't want to have to go out of state to hunt."

But there is a downside to Missouri's rising popularity as a big buck state. One of the reasons Kalenberg's group only shot one buck was because of the hunting pressure in that part of the state.

"It was quite crowded with hunters, so we probably won't go back next year," he said.

As for his trophy, Kalenberg was quick to point out his plans for it.

"Yes, he's going on the wall," he said.