Our State's Top Bow Kills: Part 2

Here are several more hat-rack bucks from last season, starting with Floyd Carpenter's big No. 2 all-time typical!

Bowhunter Tim Russell took this impressive 17-pointer, scoring 185 7/8 P&Y, in Campbell County. His huge deer is last season's top non-typical bow kill.
Photo by Bill Cooper

Like many deer hunters across the Commonwealth, Floyd Carpenter had always dreamed of owning his own hunting land. A couple of years ago, he had the opportunity to fulfill that dream and purchased a small tract of timberland in Crittenden County. Although the property had been selectively logged and was not exceedingly large in terms of acreage, it was ideally situated in regard to surrounding lands. Especially significant was a large bordering tract of mature hardwoods.

"The habitat mixture was really good," Carpenter said. "I also established food plots in three different areas that totaled approximately 16 acres. Over the last couple of years, after getting the plots properly limed, I have experimented with a wide variety of plantings, and I have yet to find something the deer won't eat. However, clover and various pea varieties seem to be their favorites."

Fortunately, hunting pressure was not a problem. While hunting did occur on most nearby farms in the area, the majority of landowners favored Carpenter's deer management philosophy of protecting young bucks.

Preferring to hunt with a bow, last fall Carpenter began regularly hunting the location in early September. Not surprisingly, deer were heavily utilizing the food plots and he sighted a number of impressive 6- to 10-pointers. Most were young bucks; however, one heavily framed 8-pointer, obviously mature from the size of its huge body, appeared from time to time.

"I decided, if I had the opportunity, the big 8-pointer would be a good deer to take," Carpenter said. "My brother planned to hunt the property during gun season, and I also told him about the buck and to take it if he had the chance."

Luckily, the 8-pointer never passed within shooting range and Carpenter's buck tag remained unused. This was critical because during the first week in October, an event took place that dramatically changed the archer's hunting priorities.

Early one morning, Carpenter was positioned near one of his food plots when suddenly, 100 yards away at the far edge of an opening, a giant whitetail stepped into view. As he watched, the buck slowly turned and walked several yards along the adjacent woods line before disappearing in the trees.

"Without question, it was one of the biggest bucks I had ever seen, not to mention on my own land; I was really shook up," he remarked. "I had a video camera with me, but I was so excited I pressed the wrong button and messed up most of the footage."

A few days later, in the pre-dawn darkness, the hunter returned to the same location. At first light, the shadowy forms of several deer could be seen moving about near the open food plot.

"Eventually, I was able to see about 10 to 12 deer, both bucks and does, some of which were moving in my general direction," Carpenter noted. "In regard to size, one of the bucks stood out from all the rest, but the deer happened to be facing me and, at the time, I didn't realize it was the same giant buck I had seen a few days earlier."

As the distance between the big deer and the hunter gradually closed to less than 75 yards, Carpenter quickly became aware of the buck's exceptional size. However, his complete attention was focused on the possibility of getting a shot opportunity as the deer continued to walk toward him.

"Attempting to keep up with all the deer around me was impossible, so I concentrated on watching the buck's eyes and moving only when he did," Carpenter remarked. "Getting to my feet and maneuvering the bow into position seemed to take forever, but thankfully, I was not spotted."

Sixteen feet above the ground, the concealed archer anxiously watched the buck slowly advance. As the big deer approached the stand, it quartered slightly to the left, providing a near broadside shot opportunity.

"With the buck in the open and less than 15 yards away, I was very concerned that he would detect even the slightest movement," Carpenter related. "Fortunately, I received a very lucky break from two small bucks that had been sparring out in the food plot. At that particular moment, their antlers happened to hit together rather loudly, attracting the buck's attention."

As the buck turned to look in that direction, the hunter immediately came to full draw, aimed and released. Almost instantly, there was a loud "thwack" as the arrow slammed into the buck's side; within seconds, the big whitetail bolted across the opening and disappeared.

"When the deer took off running, I saw my arrow hanging out of its left side and immediately assumed I had made a bad shot and not gotten any penetration," Carpenter remarked. "For three or four minutes I was really upset, thinking I had totally messed things up. Finally, after calming down, it dawned on me that I had shot at the buck's right side; so in reality, the arrow had passed completely through the rib cage. Normally, I'm not that bad about second-guessing myself, but then again the buck of a lifetime doesn't come along every day."

The hunter elected to remain in the stand for at least an hour before attempting to follow the buck's trail; however, after about 40 minutes his nerves had withstood all the waiting they could handle. By this time, a number of deer had moved back into the plot, accompanied by several wild turkeys.

"I really hated to scare everything off, but there was no way I could stay in the stand any longer," Carpenter laughed. "Fortunately, I had no trouble locating a blood trail and managed to find the buck rather quickly about 200 yards away."

To say the least, the hunter was somewhat in awe of the buck's massive 10-point rack, especially seeing it up close for the first time. Instead of ground shrinkage, the antlers appeared even bigger than he remembered.

"Being lucky enough to just see a buck of that size is amazing," Carpenter said. "But, for me, being able to take the deer with a bow, on my own land, is more than I could have hoped for; it is really unbelievable."

One look at the buck's outstanding antlers and the hunter's comments are easily understandable. An exceptional combination of spread, mass, beam length and tine length gives the 5x5 rack an impressive appearance of both height and width. For example, the main beams, which exceed 29 and 28

inches, form an inside spread of 19 3/8 inches. Tine length includes paired G-2s that measure 13 0/8 and 12 6/8 inches, followed by G-3s of 12 0/8 and 11 4/8 inches. Both basal circumferences tape 5 4/8 inches, with the six remaining mass measurements falling between 4 and 5 inches.

The 10-point frame grosses a whopping 188 3/8. Although the rack exhibits great symmetry, with only minor measurement differences, total deductions also include two abnormal points, totaling 7 2/8 inches. Even so, a tremendous final Pope and Young (P&Y) score of 178 1/8 places the Crittenden County buck in a special ranking of archery whitetails.

To begin with, it is the top typical bow kill of 2004. Additionally, the buck is Kentucky's biggest typical taken by bow in eight years, ranking No. 2 on the state's all-time list of P&Y whitetails. Within the current P&Y club record book, published in 1999, the deer ranks 85th and places in the top 1 percent of the biggest whitetails ever recorded from North America. Finally, the buck also qualifies for both the Awards and All-Time record books of the Boone and Crockett Club.

TIM RUSSELL'S AMAZING CAMPBELL COUNTY NON-TYPICAL

Positioned 20 feet high in a white oak, overlooking a dense thicket adjacent to an alfalfa field, bowhunter Tim Russell watched and listened for deer moving in the surrounding undergrowth. Nearby, several trees exhibited large scars from buck activity from the previous fall. Since this was very early September, many bucks were still in velvet and there was little sign of fresh rubbing activity. Nevertheless, the Campbell County farm owner had reported spotting a large buck in the area.

This was the second afternoon of the state's archery season and as the hunter watched the sun sink low on the western horizon, he suddenly heard a squirrel barking some distance behind the stand. Minutes later, there were the unmistakable sounds of deer moving in the thicket.

"When I turned and looked in that direction, I got a flash or two of moving antlers, but the limbs and leaves were too thick to really see the deer," Russell said. "Eventually, I was able to determine there were two bucks, one of which was an 8-pointer still in velvet. The other buck was bigger and had shed its velvet, but I had only gotten a quick glimpse of one side of the rack."

The larger buck circled off to one side, while the 8-pointer walked directly under the stand. Minutes later, the two deer rejoined, approximately 20 yards in front of the stand. Now standing, the hunter came to full draw and tracked the big deer as it slowly moved through the thicket.

"At that point, I could see several long tines on the buck's rack and I knew it was an exceptional deer," Russell remarked. "There was one primary shooting lane and I held the bow at full draw until the buck's chest was completely in the clear. When I released, I saw the arrow disappear just behind the ribs."

At the shot, the buck jumped and kicked backward before quickly running out of sight. The hunter listened intently, hoping to hear the deer go down, but the sounds quickly faded.

Russell waited a short while before walking to where the buck had been standing. After finding his arrow, which was covered with blood, he began following the buck's trail. Shortly before dark, two deer jumped just ahead of him and ran off through the woods. Thinking there was a chance one of them might be the wounded buck, he marked the location and left for the night.

"The next morning I brought along some additional help," Russell said. "We continued following the blood trail until we lost the sign, approximately three-fourths of a mile from where I had shot the buck. Although we spent nearly the entire day at the site, we were unable to locate the deer."

The hunter continued his search the following two days without success. Russell was scheduled to fly to Kansas the next morning for a guided whitetail hunt, but before leaving, he contacted everyone who lived nearby, explaining about the lost buck and offering a reward for anyone who might find it.

That effort paid off two days later when Jay Ross and his twin daughters, Britney and Tiffany, found the buck not far from their house. Ross immediately called Russell's wife who relayed the good news to her husband in Kansas.

"To say the least, I was excited," Russell remarked. "My understanding is the girls actually found the buck due to the odor it was emitting. I certainly can't thank them enough. Later, after learning exactly where the deer had been discovered, I estimated we had probably walked within a few yards of the buck during our earlier searches; in many places, the brush and undergrowth were so dense, it was impossible to see more than several feet."

The rack of Russell's awesome whitetail has 17 scorable points, 12 of which make up the 6x6 typical frame. Long main beams, measuring 28 and 27 inches, hook outward to form an antler spread of 21 1/8 inches outside and 19 0/8 inches inside. Tine length is impressive, including brows (G-1s) that measure 8 and 6 inches, followed by paired G-2s and G-3s, all of which tape between 11 and 8 2/8 inches. Antler mass is exceptional, with all eight circumference measurements falling between 4 3/8 and 5 2/8 inches. In fact, moving from the basal measurements out, the beams actually increase rather than decrease in size.

In regard to scoring, the 12-point frame grosses 185 1/8 and nets 175 2/8. After including five additional abnormal points, totaling 10 5/8 inches, the final non-typical P&Y score stands at 185 7/8. This ranks the buck as the state's top non-typical bow kill of 2004. Additionally, it stands as the biggest non-typical (bow or gun) ever recorded from Campbell County and ties for 11th place on the state's all-time list. The buck also qualifies for the Boone and Crockett Club's Awards record book.

JOHN BLAKELEY'S SAME STAND 8-POINTER

Bowhunter John Blakeley can certainly appreciate the size of Tim Russell's great non-typical. That's because three years earlier (2001), the hunter arrowed a massive 21-point non-typical in Christian County that had an almost identical score of 185 0/8.

According to an old saying, lightning never strikes the same place twice, but Blakeley has reason to argue that point. Last year, on Oct. 17, the hunter was situated in the same oak tree where he had taken the big non-typical. That's when an impressive 8-pointer walked into shooting range.

Admittedly, the buck may not be in the same class with the 21-pointer, but the rack's 25-inch beams, 17 5/8- inch inside spread, and four tines that tape between 9 3/8 and 7 5/8 inches qualify it as a superb P&Y trophy. After grossing 145 6/8, the 8-pointer nets a final score of 141 7/8. So sometimes hunting lightning does strike the same place twice!

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