Our State'™s Top Bow Kills: Part 2

Our State'™s Top Bow Kills: Part 2

The parade of trophies continues with trophy bucks from Crittenden, Fayette and Ohio counties last season. Here are the stories behind each hunter's big buck! (September 2007)

Bowhunter Tony Moore took this awesome 21-point buck while hunting in Crittenden County last year. His trophy scores 185 2/8 Pope and Young points.
Photo by Bill Cooper.

Last year, during the first week of September, Tony Moore and a companion were doing food plot-work on some hunting land in Crittenden County. While taking a late-afternoon break, the men were shocked to see a large buck walk out of the woods about 60 yards away.

"The deer quickly spotted us and left, but not before I got a good look at its rack," Tony said. "The size of the buck really surprised me, because I had never seen the deer before, or found any of its sheds."

The plot had been planted in a clover-and-oats mixture, basically in the shape of a half-circle, with woods surrounding two sides and a large thicket covering the middle of the circle. A deer stand is located in a huge oak that stands at one end of the opening, not far from where the buck had been sighted.

"The stand has been in that oak for at least 17 years," Moore noted. "During that time, I have arrowed a number of deer from there, including three exceptional bucks. But none were in the size-class of the big deer we had seen that afternoon."

The one absolute requirement for hunting the oak stand was a prevailing north wind. But for several days following the buck's sighting, the weather chose not to cooperate.

Finally, after 10 days, a fairly strong front passed through the state, dramatically dropping temperatures and bringing the desired shift in wind direction.

After climbing into position around mid-afternoon, the hunter immediately began seeing deer. Several does and a few small bucks appeared first, with a 130-class, 10-pointer eventually joining them.

About an hour later, a larger 10-pointer, still in velvet, walked into view. The big whitetail was following close behind.

"Since the first sighting, the buck had stripped all the velvet off its rack. However, it was certainly no less impressive," Moore said. "For some time, the deer remained just out of shooting range, which was nerve-wracking, to say the least.

"Finally, the buck began heading in my direction and approached to within 25 yards, before pausing momentarily to look at a doe. Already locked into shooting position, I immediately released the arrow."

At the shot, the buck bolted forward and disappeared into the woods. The rest of the deer also quickly cleared out of the plot.

Although the hunter felt good about the shot, he was surprised he hadn't seen or heard the deer go down.

"I shoot a Phantom broadhead, and most of the time, a deer never goes over 50 yards," Moore said. "I became more concerned after picking up my arrow. Instead of it being completely covered with blood, there was a mixed coating that actually appeared to be more green than red."

Unsure of his exact shot placement, and not wanting to take any unnecessary chances, the hunter decided to leave the deer alone for the night and return the following morning. During the night, unfortunately, rain washed out all signs of the blood trail.

Beginning at daybreak the following morning, Moore and a companion searched over three hours for the deer -- without success. With no real idea of where or how far the buck had gone, the hunter decided to contact Steve Winbigler to inquire about the possible use of his tracking dogs.

"I met Steve in Henderson and brought him down to the hunting tract," Moore related. "He had two dogs -- a bloodhound and a Labrador retriever -- and they seemed to get on the trail immediately.

"I had assumed the buck probably stayed with the rest of the deer after leaving the plot. But to my surprise, the dogs headed off in the exact opposite direction."

Amazingly, after first taking a few minutes to get oriented on the right trail, the dogs located the buck in approximately 30 minutes. The big deer had traveled 200 yards before crashing down in a thicket, apparently dead on its feet.

"As it turned out, my arrow had passed through the liver, which explains the green color," Moore noted. "Knowing that, it is unbelievable the deer was able to travel that distance. I couldn't have been happier with the dogs' work. And considering I had been looking in the wrong direction, I might very well have never found the buck without their help."

Seeing the impressive antlers up close for the first time, the archer was somewhat overwhelmed at the rack's nearly perfect 7x7 typical frame. Although the overall antler spread was a little less than Moore had guessed, everything else about the rack seemed to be bigger.

Without question, an evenly matched 7x7 typical whitetail is about as common as hen's teeth. Statistically speaking, the average hunter probably has a better chance of taking a record-book deer than finding a true 14-point typical. In this case, Moore's great buck also has seven abnormal points, but they are clustered around the burrs of both main beams and not immediately noticeable.

Official antler measurements include main beams of 24 4/6 and 23 5/8 inches, and five of the 12 normal tines tape 9 inches or more. Antler spread is 17 2/8 inches outside and 14 6/8 inches inside.

The typical frame grosses 177 5/8 and after asymmetry deductions, nets 169 4/8. After adding in the seven abnormal points, totaling 15 6/8 inches, the final non-typical Pope and Young score is 185 2/8.

In addition to ranking high in the P&Y record book, the buck also qualifies for Boone and Crockett's Awards record book. Within Crittenden County, it stands as the largest non-typical bow kill ever recorded.

DON JENKINS' WIDE-ANTLERED 12-POINTER

From a hunting perspective, owning land with plenty of whitetail cover in the middle of Fayette County's picturesque rolling horse farms would be akin to acquiring an oasis in the middle of the Sahara.

Under such conditions, there would never be a question of having deer, simply a case of properly managing their numbers. This is exactly the enviable problem that Lexington's Don J

enkins must deal with.

Last spring, Jenkins cleared a half-acre food plot in the middle of a wooded tract of land on his farm. His idea was twofold: to provide a location where deer could feed within a significant acreage of dense cover, and to create an area that the hunter could utilize as both an observation site and for bowhunting.

In late summer, Jenkins' trail cameras recorded several photos of a giant 10-point buck with long matching drop tines. Additionally, bordering landowners reported seeing the huge buck out in the fields grazing with their horses!

"Several of the neighbors I talked with estimated the buck's weight to be over 300 pounds," Jenkins noted.

"They couldn't believe the big deer was able to jump their pasture fences. Except for the photos, I never actually saw the buck myself, but I was certainly hoping to see him during bow season."

Other than planting the opening in winter peas, Jenkins stayed completely out of the area through late summer and early fall. During the second week of October, with ideal weather conditions and a light southwesterly wind, the bowhunter decided to try a late-afternoon hunt.

Around 4 p.m., Jenkins climbed into a stand that he had positioned during the spring, when he cleared the opening initially. After sitting until after sunset and seeing only a few does and a small 4-pointer, he began making preparations to leave.

"I had clipped a string onto my bow and was in the process of lowering it to the ground," Jenkins related. "About the same time, I happened to glance behind me and saw a wide set of antlers coming through the trees."

He hurriedly pulled his bow back up to the stand. The hunter managed to maneuver into shooting position just as the buck stepped out into the opening, 60 yards away.

The big whitetail began to feed, gradually moving closer and closer to the concealed hunter.

"When the deer stopped at 30 yards, I thought he was completely in the open and I released my arrow," Jenkins said. "Unfortunately, in the fading light, I failed to see a couple of small tree branches. The arrow deflected downward, striking the ground just under the buck."

Not surprisingly, the deer jumped into the air, and then trotted to the far side of the opening, some 80 yards away, before stopping to look back.

Realizing he needed to do something, and do it quickly, the hunter pulled out a grunt tube and blew several low grunts.

"Almost immediately, the buck bristled up, laid back its ears and began a slow, aggressive walk back across the opening," Jenkins related.

"The deer actually walked to within two yards of where my arrow was sticking in the ground, still intently looking for the other buck."

Granted an almost unbelievable second chance at the big whitetail, the archer was careful not to repeat his earlier mistake. In this instance, he saw his arrow disappear into the buck's chest.

At this same moment, Darrell Stewart, a hunting companion of Jenkins, was walking toward a predetermined meeting location near the opening. He actually saw his friend, silhouetted against the evening sky, draw and shoot.

Within several seconds, he heard a loud crash in the brush, not far from where he was standing.

"Darrell told me what he had seen and heard, and both of us agreed it was probably the buck going down," Jenkins said.

"Even so, I opted to wait until daybreak, rather than take any unnecessary chances by attempting to look for the deer in the darkness."

The next morning, the two men returned to the area where Darrell had been standing. After walking a short distance in the direction of the loud crash heard the day before, they quickly discovered Jenkins' buck.

Both men spent several minutes examining the big deer's impressively wide 12-point rack.

Official antler statistics include an antler spread of 22 3/8 inches outside, and 20 6/8 inches inside. Both main beams measure 24 7/8 inches. Tine length, though not exceptional, was certainly impressive, with the four longest taping 9 4/8, 9 2/8, 8 6/8, and 7 5/8 inches.

After grossing 163 0/8, asymmetry deductions, plus two small abnormal points, reduce the final typical P&Y score to 153 3/8. The deer stands as the largest typical bow kill ever recorded for Fayette County.

"I would love to have seen the big double-drop-tine buck. But the instant I saw this deer, I knew it was a shooter," Jenkins said.

"I was extremely fortunate to get two shots at that buck."

RALPH PORTER'S OHIO COUNTY 8-POINTER

During the first week of bow season, Ralph Porter and his 15-year-old son, Jaron, chose to try an afternoon hunt in a small tract of woods, which deer were using as a travel corridor between several fields of row-crop agriculture and a large area of woodlands.

On several occasions in August, the two had spotted a big antlered buck in or near a small woodlot. Shortly before the season, they positioned their stands in a large hardwood near several well-used trails.

"Jaron was attempting to take his first deer with a bow," Porter noted. "I told him he could either try for a doe, or wait and hope the buck would show up. The decision was his."

Not long after getting situated, the hunters heard a deer coming through the woods. Seconds later, a doe walked into view.

The deer continued directly toward their location, eventually approaching well within bow range.

"Jaron indicated he wanted to take a shot and moved his bow into position," Porter said. "The doe came all the way under us, but wouldn't stop walking. I finally whistled, and she paused long enough for him to shoot.

"His arrow was right on target, and the deer didn't go far before she started to go down."

As Porter was watching the doe, he suddenly heard the footsteps of a second deer. Turning, he spotted a big buck approaching along the same trail the doe had used.

Quickly swinging his bow into shooting position, the hunter came to full draw. As the buck abruptly stopped, 20 yards away, he released.

"The buck immediately took off running. But I knew I had made a good shot, and within seconds, we heard the deer go down.

"What an afternoon! I don't know if I w

as more excited over shooting the buck or having watched Jaron take his first bow deer."

The rack of Porter's big whitetail has a great combination of width and height. The basic 8-point frame includes long main beams of 27 4/8 and 25 6/8 inches, and an antler spread of 23 1/8 inches outside and 21 2/8 inches inside. The paired back tines (G-2s) tape 9 7/8 and 8 6/8 inches, and the G-3s exceed 8 inches.

The rack grosses an impressive figure of 148 7/8. But over 6 inches of abnormal points, plus asymmetry deductions, drops the final P&Y score to 138 6/8. Nevertheless, this is still a great total for an 8-pointer.

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