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Centanni kills record buck after persevering through hard times

Mike Centanni poses with his 225-pound, 16-point deer on Jan. 18. Centanni said he had been eyeing the large buck for weeks, and finally shot the biggest buck of his life after struggling with a week of personal family-related issues. (Submitted Photo)
Mike Centanni poses with his 225-pound, 16-point deer on Jan. 18. Centanni said he had been eyeing the large buck for weeks, and finally shot the biggest buck of his life after struggling with a week of personal family-related issues. (Submitted Photo)

 

MONTEREY — When Mike Centanni and his wife, Janet, hit an all-time low in January, there was nowhere else to go but up.

The Centannis dealt with a string of family-related issues within a week that seemed like it would only get worse as time went by.

“We probably spent $10,000 that week (on family issues),” Mike said. “At the same time, my father, who is 86, was hav-ing health problems and was in the hospital.”

But things did get worse. Mike came down with a bad cold featuring flu-like symptoms. And as an avid hunter, Mike said he couldn’t find much time to hunt.

Despite his troubles, Centanni still had an image embedded in his brain.

It was a buck he saw on private property Jan. 8 on land he has hunted for several years. Mike said he had never seen the deer before that day yet managed to see it several times on his trail cameras thereafter.

“I had not one picture of it until Jan. 8, and I saw it on foot the next day, but I didn’t have my rifle on me, and it ran off,” Mike said. “Then another night, our cameras took 12 pictures of it. From then, I never saw it again.”

Mike wanted this deer. It was like it was calling his name. But because of woes the following week, he hadn’t had the time to track it down.

By the weekend of Jan. 18, things had gotten slightly better, as his father’s health condition was looking better. Yet he was still dealing with his own illness.

But being the hunter he is, Mike and his wife decided to go hunting anyway.

As he got settled on his deer stand at sunrise, it wasn’t long before something got his attention.

Just an hour and a half into his stakeout, Mike spotted the big buck.

Then Janet said she heard a loud gun shot.

“Our system is, when you shoot, you call (the other per-son),” Janet said. “I heard him shoot, but he didn’t call. Maybe 20 minutes later, I got the call, and he sounded really sad. He said, ‘I made a really bad mistake, and I shot a small young deer.’ I was thinking, ‘My goodness, after this whole week, he made this mistake.’”

When she met up with Mike, he had his head hang-ing in shame.

She said the last thing they needed at the end of a bad week was more bad news.

But little did she know, Mike was just pulling a fast one on her.

“He said it was probably just a six or seven point,” Ja-net said. “We got in the truck and as we drove up to it, there were already four buzzards on it. When I saw it, I was so grateful for him that he had not made that mistake. I screamed (at the size of it), and we were so happy. I didn’t even dream that he was pull-ing my leg.”

Mike said they had trouble getting the big deer into their truck, as they had to call for backup. It was quickly evi-dent this deer was the biggest Mike had ever shot.

Mike had only shot five deer in 11 years.

“He’s always doing the right thing,” Janet said. “Every time we see a deer, he’ll say it’s not big enough yet, let him grow. He refuses to kill a deer that looks like it may not have lived long enough.”

Mike said he had some friends score the buck, and it came out to 181 6/8 points. Hearing that number was earth-shattering, he said, but he still needed to hear it from professionals.

“This was like 40 inches bigger than any deer I have ever killed,” Mike said. “I wasn’t trying to disrespect my buddies, but they aren’t official scorers. So we left from there and went to get it scored.”

With the deer confirmed at 182 2/8 points from the Spotted Dog Big Buck Contest in Columbia and 178 5/8 from the Simmons Sporting Goods Big Buck Contest in Bastrop, La., Mike said the news spread quickly with the help of modern technology and social media.

Mike said he has received several calls and plenty of praise from the community and old friends since the hunt, and it made him appreciate the type of camaraderie in the hunting world.

“My daughter took pictures and put it on Facebook, and that day, about 1,200 people had liked it or responded to it,” Mike said. “That was mind-blowing that the news could spread so fast with the new technology today.

“The deer hunting community made me realize that it’s a special group, so when I see someone kill a really big deer now, some way I’m going to get in touch with them just like they did with me.”

Now that Mike has killed his dream deer, he still has one more question to answer: What now?

Mike said if he never shot a deer that size again, it would be fine with him because he felt like this deer was some-thing special.

“I praised God that I was raised in the outdoors,” he said. “This deer is a gift from God (after everything we’ve been through). God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.

“The Lord puts things in front of you for a reason. God does everything for a reason. If you believe everything can get better, then it will get better beyond your wildest dreams. (Killing this deer) is not something that I did, it’s what God did.”