The Free Press, Mankato, MN


November 18, 2012

Cross: Nicollet County buck one for the record books

ROHNERT PARK, CALIF. — The countryside really doesn’t hold many secrets anymore, what with all the trail cameras hanging from fence posts and tree trunks nowadays.

So it was no secret this fall that a big buck wearing a unique set of antlers was roaming the south edge of Swan Lake west of Nicollet.

Images of the buck sporting an unusual drop tine off of a main antler beam had shown up on several trail cameras in its wanderings.

Several local bow hunters had hunted hard in previous weeks targeting the buck, hoping paths crossed before the firearms deer season opened and an army of orange-clad hunters headed into the deer woods.

Instead, the trophy buck met its maker thanks to a chance encounter with Dalton Demarais of Howard Lake.

The 21-year-old construction worker was hunting last Sunday morning, the final day of the firearms deer season in southern Minnesota, on a 16-acre parcel of land owned by the family of his fiancee, Bethany Forbrook, along the south edge of Swan Lake.

“Dalton and Bethany hunted up north during the first weekend of the season and then asked if they could come down here and hunt with us on the last weekend,” said Wyman Forbrook of Lake Crystal, Bethany’s father.

“There isn’t much room in there but I figured we could find a place for them,” he said.

On Sunday morning, Forbrook, Bethany and Demarais, along with Wyman’s father-in-law, Bob Freeberg, were posting on the small acreage.

Forbrook, who gave up his usual stand to Demarais, was sitting a few hundred yards away in a lawn chair shortly before 8 a.m. when he spotted a doe being trailed by a buck wearing big head gear.

He took a shot with the handgun he was hunting with but just shaved hair from the buck’s back, sending it bounding toward Demarais.

Hearing the shot, Demarais could see a doe running in his direction.

“Behind it I could see a buck running,” he said. “It saw me move when I brought the gun up and ran behind me.

“I had to whip the gun around behind me. He was running through the trees so I had to wait until he ran into an opening before shooting.”

When he pulled the trigger of his Browning A5 equipped with a slug barrel, the buck dropped in its tracks, a clean 100-yard shot through the shoulder.

“We really didn’t know what we had,” Forbrook said. “When we walked up to it, we could only see an antler tine sticking up from the grass.”

They agreed that it was certainly big enough to be worthy of a trip to Jeff Holmin’s North Star Taxidermy studio in nearby Nicollet.

Indeed, it was.

“When a taxidermist’s eyes light up, you kind of know you’re onto something,” Forbrook said.

“I gross-scored it at 206 points,” Holmin said of the non-typical rack sporting a distinctive drop tine on its left beam. “I believe it’s the largest non-typical deer ever taken in Nicollet County. I’ve been in business here for 31 years and haven’t seen a bigger one.”

In fact, only a couple of Nicollet County bucks have ever been listed in the Boone & Crockett record book, including one other non-typical rack, according to Holmin.

News of the trophy quickly attracted a stream of viewers that afternoon, including several of the bow hunters who had been targeting the deer in recent weeks.

Demarais, whose previous kills in the decade or so he has hunted deer include just a doe and a spike buck, expects no objection at all from Bethany about hanging the completed mount prominently in their apartment.

The young man may have figured out this deer hunting thing.

But he still might have a lot to learn about women.

John Cross is a Free Press staff writer. Contact him at 344-6376 or by e-mail at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • mfp sports-jc outdoor column-7-27 Singing the praises of the prairie When pioneers first traveled through Minnesota, they marveled at the seemingly endless, inland sea of tall grass prairie that greeted them.It is estimated more than 18 million acres of grasslands stretched from the southeast to the northwest corners

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • mfp sports jcross outdoor column 7-20 Chasing walleyes in South Dakota nice We slowed to a crawl the other day on the dusty Day County township road in northeast South Dakota, a courtesy to the farmer who was baling ditch hay south of Webster.Otherwise, we would have enveloped him as he drove his open tractor in the choking

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fishing report Outlook on area lakes

    July 6, 2014

  • Cross column: No wake, no fish ... no problems on the water Patience is always a virtue when fishing.

    July 6, 2014

  • Know Your Lakes: Series maps

    Missed out on the weekly lake preview Wednesday's in the print edition? That's ok, we have you covered here. View the series thus far and download a printable PDF.

    May 24, 2011

  • Cross column: Where does the buck stop in your home?

    Displaying your trophy catch can be debatable

    June 29, 2014

  • Storms came at horrible time for pheasants For pheasants and pheasant hunters, there were no silver linings to be found in the storm clouds that inundated the countryside with heavy rains this week.A foot of rain falling in just a week is never good, but for pheasants, it came at precisely th

    June 22, 2014

  • Early morning is beautifully lonely Benjamin Franklin was on to something when he extolled the benefits of "early to bed, early to rise." While I can't vouch for its effect on health, wealth or wisdom, rolling out of the sack certainly seems to pay dividends for outdoor activities. The

    June 15, 2014

  • mfp sports cross column 6-1 Cross: Take a kid fishing, no license needed A few years ago, while cruising with a co-worker through an area community on a steamy summer day, we passed a vacant lot. There, oblivious to the heat and humidity, a group of kids were playing a game of pick-up baseball, racing down well-worn paths

    June 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cross: Once upon a time, when fishing was simple... Once upon a time, fishing was a pretty simple affair. A rod-and-reel, some bait and tackle, perhaps a rowboat if you were lucky, and you were in business. While the basic premise of angling -- to catch fish -- remains, it sure seems to have grown mor

    May 25, 2014