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Robbie O’Bryan Takes the 218 3/8 Emperor Buck Deer in Missouri

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Editor’s Note: Robbie O’Bryan of Marshall, Missouri, hunts 365 days per year on 20-different small properties with the farthest only 15 miles from his home, allowing him to hunt before and after work on these 16-200 acre places. 

“I’m either putting out or checking trail cameras, hunting for sheds, moving stands, planting green fields or scouting every day of the year,” O’Bryan explains. “In 2015, my friend, Brenton Fowler, showed me a picture of a mid-180-point buck he’d named the Emperor that was living on the adjoining property to the 200 acres I hunt.” So, O’Bryan chose not to hunt close to where Fowler was hunting. Then in the summer of 2016, the owner of the Emperor’s home passed away. His daughter inherited the property and stopped all hunting there.

“I decided to hunt close to the property line where the Emperor had been living,” O’Bryan mentions. At the end of July, 2016, O’Bryan put out seven trail cameras to see if the Emperor ever came to O’Bryan’s 200 acres. Missouri temperatures hovered between 90-100 degrees, and the humidity was extremely high. Many of the crops hadn’t been harvested. O’Bryan had to walk through standing soybeans and around the field edges to put out trail cameras and soon was soaking wet with sweat and even had it pooling in his socks and boots. Two weeks later when O’Bryan checked his cameras, on the first flash card he saw the very first picture was of the Emperor. O’Bryan told his wife, “The Emperor is still alive!”

O’Bryan left his cameras on the 200 acres, hoping to get more pictures. But after 2 weeks, he only had one set of pictures from one camera on one night and never got a daylight picture of the Emperor. “No hunter in his right mind wants to hunt this property, because it’s more than 90-percent agricultural fields,” O’Bryan says. “With only one fence line that stretches for about 500 yards, it only holds two trees suitable for a tree stand. Since I’m primarily a bowhunter, I wanted to take the Emperor with my bow on video. Over the years, I’ve learned that mature bucks don’t like to live in big timber. They prefer to stay in small, secluded spots where no one ever hunts during daylight hours, and they move primarily after dark.”

The Missouri bow season opened on September 15, 2016. O’Bryan only had 3 days where he had a favorable wind to hunt from his stand. Gun season in Missouri opened on November 12th.

O’Bryan told his wife and Fowler, “I’m not returning to that property but plan to stay away until the peak of the rut during gun season.” O’Bryan had a very good friend named Floyd Alsbach he told too about the Emperor. “Floyd had a relative owning property that also adjoined the 200 acres I hunted. I knew I’d be excited for Floyd if I couldn’t take the Emperor, and he did.”

To hunt from his stand, O’Bryan needed a straight north wind or a straight south wind. “On November 12, 2016, I didn’t have either one. I still put a lawn chair in my truck, drove to the property and sat in the lawn chair in a little ditch with no trees around me and grass about 2-feet high about 400 yards from where I hoped to see the Emperor. Just at first light, I watched two deer in my Leupold binoculars ( walk under my tree stand, but I didn’t have enough light to determine whether they were bucks or does.” O’Bryan felt very confident he could make a 400-yard shot and had his rifle sighted in at 3-1/2 inches high at 100 yards to shoot dead-on at 300 yards.

“Early morning I watched a deer jump over the fence onto the property I had permission to hunt and start walking toward me,” O’Bryan reports. “Using my binoculars, I thought, ‘That’s a pretty good buck.’ The buck closed the distance to me, trotting, and turned almost broadside. Then the deep fork in his antlers on the left side of his rack helped me to realize I was looking at the Emperor. I grabbed my rifle and ranged the deer at 315 yards. I realized I only had about a 10-second window to take this buck and made a quick shot. I completely missed the deer, which quickly picked up his pace. I immediately bolted my rifle, found the deer in my scope and fired again. My rifle’s recoil made the gun kick up, and I lost sight of the buck.

“The buck wasn’t more than a few feet away from the fence. If the buck had made it over the fence, then the way he was headed, I knew he’d have to cross a gravel road about 500 yards away. I made a mad dash to get to that road, hoping to find a blood trail. But there wasn’t one.”

Then O’Bryan saw three does coming out of the ditch he assumed the Emperor would have had to use to escape. He walked around the field to where it cornered into the woods, spotting three more does. “After seeing the two groups of does and knowing the rut was on, I knew a big buck should have been following them,” O’Bryan says. “Then I was hopeful I might have taken the Emperor. Walking to where I’d taken the shot, I spotted the Emperor down but only could see one side of his rack above the brush.”

O’Bryan’s lawn chair in the ditch was lower than where he’d taken the shot, so the bullet had entered behind the buck’s front shoulder, passing through a lung and then gone up, breaking the buck’s back. “When I put my hands on the Emperor’s rack, I couldn’t believe how massive his antlers were,” O’Bryan reports. “The pictures of this buck at night didn’t show the mass of his antlers or his weight of about 240 pounds. I had so much adrenaline still in my system that I backed my truck down to where that huge buck fell and loaded him up by myself.”

Robbie O’Bryan took the irregular-racked 17-point Emperor on November 12, 2016, in Saline County, Missouri.

To learn more about hunting deer with John E. Phillips’ Amazon Kindle eBooks, print books and Audible books and Nook books, click here at You can type in the name of the book and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer. For a free download on how to make jerky from venison to provide a protein-rich snack, choose “How to Prepare Venison Jerky: The Ultimate Snack Food” at

Tomorrow: Phillip Kalmbach’s 318 Pound Kansas Buck Deer

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