For what seemed like an eternity, Todd Millett was afraid to move a muscle.
It was late afternoon on the first day of the 2011 rifle deer season, and Millett was in a tree stand on his Clarks Summit property.
In front of him he glanced the antlers of an enormous buck slowly headed his way. Beneath his stand stood a doe, who fixated her eyes on Millett and nervously stomped her foot. Around him a handful of deer, including a smaller five-point buck, stood and watched.
"I was so nervous I was shaking. The doe knew something wasn't right," Millett said. "The buck kept moving toward me, but if that doe blasted out of there it was over. She was ready to go at any moment."
In a split second, Millett saw the doe look away and the smaller five-point scurry away. He used the opportunity to raise his rifle and put his scope on the monster buck that had now approached to within 40 yards.
"I fired and he dropped," Millett said. "That's when I could really see how massive he was."
On Jan. 27, Millett was able to put a number on just how big his buck was when he had it measured by Tim Conway, an official Boone and Crockett scorer.S
Conway has measured deer for Boone and Crockett for three years. When he saw the rack from Millett's buck, he knew it would probably be the largest he ever scored.
"It was truly impressive," Conway said.
In order for a buck to make the state record book it must score a minimum of 140. To qualify as a Boone and Crockett all-time record, the rack has to score at least 170.
Millett's deer, a 12-point, scored 179- 5/8 , making the Lackawanna County trophy the sixth largest typical buck ever taken in Pennsylvania.
The rack had a spread of more than 23 inches, circumferences greater than 5 inches and the longest tine measured just over 10 inches.
For Millett, who is 44 and has been hunting since he was 12, the enormity of the buck still hasn't sunk in.
"Every time I look at a picture or hold the rack, I still shake my head. I just can't believe it," Millett said. "It's a testament to what the Pennsylvania Game Commission is doing with antler restrictions, the fact that you can be out and have a chance to take a trophy like this basically in your backyard."
Millett didn't spend extensive time scouting the buck but he knew it was in the area. Locals spoke often of a legendary buck roaming the area, and Millett spotted it three weeks before the rifle season as he drove a golf cart through a field to feed his horses.
"He was out in the field chasing a doe and I almost fell out of the golf cart," Millett said. "He didn't even look real."
Making the day even more special was Millett wasn't alone during the hunt. He was able to share the experience with his father, Dan, whom he has hunted with his entire life.
"It was such a great thing to see my father walk over to this unbelievable trophy. It meant the world for him to be there with me," Millett said. "We got the deer back to our barn, shook hands and hugged. It was really special."
Millett knows it will be difficult, if not nearly impossible, to harvest a bigger buck. But that won't stop him from feeling the anticipation for next deer season. After all, he said, just knowing there's a possibility that something big could appear is what makes the hunt fun.
"Just knowing there are deer like this out there and I can share experiences like this with my father is what makes hunting important to us," Millett said.
Todd Millett's record buck had a field-dressed weight of more than 200 pounds. He has sent a tooth to get aged, but Tim Conway said the buck has to be fairly old in order to have grown so large.
Conway said he measures a lot of bucks during the late winter after the mandatory 60-day drying period has passed. The two key components of a record-book buck are symmetry and mass, he said.
"You generally need to have a 10-point or better and it needs to be symmetrical to make the record book," Conway said. "And if the mass is there, too, you're going to score well."