BIG RED (part I) – The Search for a Legend

Communications Coordinator

Karl Hassel's first photograph of Big Red at Blacklick Woods.
Karl Hassel’s first photograph of Big Red at Blacklick Woods.

There are some large bucks to be seen at Blacklick Woods, and maybe some of them are related to an impressive beast that once roamed the fields at this, the first Metro Park, not so many years ago. The manager of Battelle Darby Creek, Kevin Kasnyik, who worked at Blacklick Woods in times past, actually saw this deer and recalls it, even now, as “… the largest buck I have ever seen.”

So perhaps it is not surprising that this majestic and imposing animal came to be spoken of in glowing terms by those lucky enough to see it, and that its admirers felt a need to give the animal a name. And thus, the legend of Big Red began.

In 2009, a regular visitor to Blacklick Woods, Karl Hassel, wrote to us at Metro Parks declaring that he had never been more obsessed with anything in his life than his efforts to capture photographs of Big Red.

Here is Karl’s report on his obsession, and also his first photograph of the magnificent beast. But the question we have, and which we pose to you in this, the first of a two-part Blog post on the legend that is Big Red—did Karl find and photograph the true Big Red, or is this admittedly tremendous beast a deer imposter, a big buck wannabe, or maybe even a changing of the guard or a competitor. (Note, when Karls speaks of shots, he means shots with his camera).


FINALLY!!!! I have never been so obsessed in my life as I have been in capturing BIG RED!! Ever since I saw him early in August on a foggy morning I just couldn’t believe what I was looking at. Every time I saw BIG RED it was always early in the morning foggy and the lighting was really bad.

I have seen him several times since then but never was able to get off a decent shot or he was too far away. I remember one morning I followed him in the woods. This was back when he was in velvet and I watched him rub his antlers on some trees. He turned and looked at me and had chunks of velvet hanging off his antlers. It was an awesome site to see but it was so dark in the woods that I couldn’t get a shot off.

I have been out just about every morning, geting up sometimes as early as 5:30 in the morning just to be there when daylight broke. I mean even on the weekends I was getting up just to get another shot at BIG RED!!!

Well today I got my shot. When I first got to the park I spooked him and he ran into the woods. I was so bummed out I thought that I just blew my chance so I moved on thinking that he may come out on the other side of the woods. I waited for about 30 minutes then I decided to go back to where I saw him, thinking that he might come out.

I hid behind a bush and waited and waited, then all of a sudden a doe came out of the brush and she saw me. She was snorten and stompen and raising all kinds of hell trying to get me to leave. Well she was raising so much hell that all of a sudden out of the woods came BIG RED, trying to find out what was going on. I just about lost it. There he was staring at me about 75 yards away!!

This is one beautiful buck and I am so glad that I never gave up looking for him, now my obsession is over I can sleep in for a while. But who knows. I may be up again early in the morning hunting for BIG RED again!!!!

I have been told that BIG RED probably scores in the 200’s. Some people have told me that this is the biggest buck they have seen when I showed them some pictures.

You don’t know how happy I am getting this shot today, as a matter of fact I went out bought me a six pack and now I am celebrating!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Shot at:

ISO 1600
f/l 400mm
1/125 sec
Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS

BIG RED (part II) – It’s all in the genes