Local hunter kills possible record-breaking buck - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Local hunter kills possible record-breaking buck

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WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Ill. -- A hunter in Williamson County could be in the running for one of the largest bucks ever shot in America. 

Keith Szableswki from Johnston City shot a rare buck last weekend during the first shotgun season. 

He is currently waiting for a panel of judges to decide if the deer will break the record for the most countable points. 

Szableswki has only been hunting deer for four years, but he is no stranger to the outdoors. 

He started waterfowl hunting back in high school. 

"When I started putting out geese decoys, there would always be deer running around the field," Szableswki said. "I never hunted deer. There were always deer running around the decoys."

This year while hunting on private property during the first weekend of the Illinois shotgun season, Szableswki had the opportunity of a lifetime. 

"I was just sitting there and I heard the deer behind me," he said. 

After shooting and killing what he thought was a big buck, he was in for an even bigger surprise. 

"When I walked up to him, I looked at it and thought, 'What a blessing,'" he said. 

Szableswki says the conservation officers told him they think the buck is 7 to 9 years old, weighs around 265 pounds alive, and could have as many as 51 scoreable points. 

"I have a John Deere and getting that deer in the gator was a fight," he says. 

The current record was set in 2016 by a 27-year-old farmer from Gallatin, Tennessee. According to USA TODAY, Stephen Tucker shot a 47-point buck with a muzzleloader. 

Szableswki's first instinct was to call one of his good friends, and then he called the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. They told him the deer was unique and unusual. 

"They told me I needed to get the deer checked out and scored," he said. "They said they have never seen anything like it in this area before."

The hunter's plan is to pedestal mount the buck, but not before he pays it forward. 

"I took the deer to a processing center, and I'll get a little meat from it, and then I donated the rest to people that need it," Szableswki said. "I felt like I needed to. I felt like the Lord was telling me to do that."

Szableswki says he will be taking the buck to the Illinois Deer and Turkey Expo next July in Peoria, where a panel of judges will officially score the deer. 

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