Indiana's One-Two 'Punch' For Trophy Bucks

Indiana's One-Two 'Punch' For Trophy Bucks

Here are the stories of how two skilled Hoosier hunters bagged the biggest typical and second-largest non-typical from last season. (December 2005)

Charles Harvey kneels by his fine 16-point non-typical trophy buck, which scores a whopping 202 1/8 points.
Photo by Dean Weimer

In November 2001, then-13-year-old deer hunter Charles Harvey of Dunkirk harvested a very respectable 10-point buck during the shotgun season. This 120-class buck became the family record, and was an excellent specimen for a young hunter's first deer ever.

"I've been hunting forever, since I was 6," the young hunter stated. In fact, Charles' family and other local hunters told the young man that this would be the largest buck he'd ever kill in Delaware County. Even good bucks of this caliber were rare in this heavily agricultural area of the state.

Jason Rees, Charles' stepfather, has been hunting this area for several seasons without harvesting anything close to this size of a buck. "That is what they told him about the 10-pointer. They said that is as big as they get here," he said. Like many other areas of the state, the age structure of bucks was very low; very few bucks made it to maturity. It did appear that big bucks just don't exist there. Simply put, they didn't exist because too many bucks were being taken while too young. That left very few bucks to ever approach an age when their true genetic potential is realized. At the time, it didn't really matter to Charles, as he was very happy with his first deer.

But on the morning of Nov. 20, 2004, he would prove all of the experts wrong by harvesting a buck that was not only larger than his 2001 buck, but also shattered the county's record buck in the process. Charles, Jason, his mother, Karen Rees, and his uncle, Kevin Rees, all arrived at their chosen deer stands in their hunting area around 6 a.m.

Their hunting area is typical of this east-central Indiana county. It is composed of very large agricultural fields broken up by occasional small-to medium-sized wood lots. There are some larger stands of timber in the area, but they are few and far between.

Charles, Jason and Karen would go to stands in different parts of what the group calls the east woods. This wood lot sits at the southeast corner of their 160-acre hunting area. Karen went to her stand in the northeast corner of the wood lot. Charles would be perched in his favorite stand in a point that is actually the southwest corner of the woods.

Approximately 30 yards directly west of Charles' stand is the corner of a small 3- to 5-acre wood lot known as the triangle woods. Deer naturally funnel along the edge of the east woods and travel past Charles' stand as they move to the triangle woods. Charles actually had a brief encounter with a 120-class buck in this same stand earlier in the archery season.

"I saw a pretty good 8-pointer during bow season that I thought I was going to get a chance to shoot," Charles said.

Unfortunately for the hunter, the buck never came into bow range. This would actually prove to be a good thing.

Jason would set up 100 yards east of Charles on the edge of the east woods. Uncle Mike would be set up several hundred yards across a picked bean field, northwest of the wood lot where the other hunters were posted in a woods known to the group as the west woods.

A county dirt road runs parallel along the east edge of the west woods from north to south. Mike was set up inside of the west woods, far enough away that he couldn't see the road. Thus, the stage was set for a world-class deer hunt.

The morning started rather uneventful for the hunting party. Charles was getting very bored as the morning wore on. Just before 8:30 a.m., Charles got a glimpse of a deer coming out of the west woods. As it got nearer, he noticed that it was a buck -- a big buck. The deer crossed the dirt road near the southeast corner of the west woods.

"I was sitting there getting pretty bored, not thinking that anything was going to happen that day. I heard this crashing sound across the field from me. He came across the field," the young hunter said.

After crossing the road, the buck angled across the field to the gap in between the east woods and the triangle woods. The young hunter was ready with his Remington 870 Express 12-gauge pump. "When he turned broadside, I shot him."

At that point, Charles didn't realize just how big the buck actually was.

"He knew that it was bigger than the one he shot in 2001, but he didn't realize how big it was at first," Karen Rees said.

Mike heard the shot and thought that someone had shot a deer that a dog had spooked out of the west woods. "Just before he shot it, I saw a big black dog coming from the east. I never saw it (the buck). All I saw was the dog. He was running," Mike explained.

Mike assumed that the dog had flushed a deer to one of the other hunters across the bean stubble because the timing seemed right for that to have happened. Charles doesn't think that the dog caused the buck to leave those woods, however.

"I never saw the dog," Charles said. The other theory is that the buck was searching for an estrous doe as the primary rut was winding down. He really wasn't running. He had his nose up the entire time."

Whether the dog spooked the buck, or the buck was prowling for a mate may never be known. It didn't really matter at that point because Charles was in the right place at the right time.

After the buck was hit, it immediately ran into the triangle woods where it expired. Karen was quite far away from where Charles and Jason were set up, so she got down and started toward the direction of Charles' stand.

"As I got closer, they were yelling, 'Get over here! get over here!' and I said, 'I'm trying, I'm trying!' " she said. Karen picked up the pace after this and finally got over to the hunters and the fallen buck. When they all converged on the buck, they couldn't believe their eyes.

No one in the hunting party had ever seen this buck prior to the kill and hadn't heard anyone talk about it either. "Two years ago, we saw a large deer run across the road in front of us in that area, but we don't have any way of knowing if it was this buck," Karen Rees said. After the word got around about the harvesting of this heavyweight, people in the area began to talk about having had their eye on this buck for a couple of years.

The farmer who owns the land that the group hunts had a trail camera set up in another one of his properties about one-half mile away from their hunting area. After he saw Charles' buck, he went through all of the pictures he had and found one that was taken in February 2003, which was definitely this buck. While two years younger, this buck had the unmistakable 10-point frame and those distinguishing long brow tines. Based on its body size and antler mass, I think that the buck was 3 1/2 years old (close to its fourth birthday) in the 2003 late-winter picture, thus making the buck a 5 1/2-year-old deer when harvested last November. This is just another fine example of what age can do for a buck.

The Harvey buck is a typical 10-pointer with 6 non-typical points making it a 16-pointer. The rack sports good mass and has excellent symmetry on the typical portion of the rack. It loses only 4 inches because of side-to-side asymmetry. The brow tines are 11 7/8, and 11 6/8 inches long and are heavily bladed. These long tines are perhaps the most distinguishable characteristic of the Harvey buck.

The G-2 and G-3 tines are all nearly identical, with three of them measuring exactly 10 inches apiece; the other one measures 9 5/8 inches. The typical portion of the buck grosses 181 2/8, making this a world-class typical. Adding the net typical score of 177 2/8 with the 24 7/8 inches of non-typical growth gives the deer a net non-typical score of 202 1/8.

In November 2003, Shaun Harvey (no relation) of Monon harvested the new state-record typical muzzleloader buck. I nicknamed his buck the "Harvey Wallhanger," so Charles' buck is also another "Harvey Wallhanger."

The 184-pound field-dressed giant is the new Delaware County record non-typical buck. It beats by nearly 15 inches Robert McFarland's 187 3/8 buck taken back in 1986. The Harvey buck is also the No. 3 hunter-taken non-typical statewide for the 2004 season.

The buck was checked in at Nature's Best Taxidermy in nearby Redkey. Owner Roy Krafjack created a beautiful half-body mount on top of a homemade rock habitat base.

"We just wanted to add that we think that the one-buck rule is the best thing that has ever happened for our deer here. We see a lot more bucks than we do does now. It used to be that we'd see way more antlerless deer than bucks, and the bucks weren't very big. The last few years we've seen more and more bucks," Jason Rees said.

In fact, in the summer of 2005, Jason reported seeing all kinds of bucks in velvet with some real bruisers being spotted in the bachelor groups. Who knows, maybe the family record won't stand for long?

A BUCK FOR DAD

In January 2003, Brownsburg's Ray Jones lost his father, George Jones, to a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

"We hunted together as long as I can remember. Both of the other two big deer I took he was with me. Pretty much all the deer I've ever taken he was with me," Jones said.

There are countless deer hunters out there who have gone through this same emotional experience. Many of us were taught how to hunt by our dads. The bonds between fathers and sons are often strengthened and solidified by our mutual experiences in the outdoors.

On Nov. 13, the opening morning of the 2004 firearms season, Ray Jones was hunting in Shelby County on land owned by his brother, Kevin. Ray arrived at his chosen position around 8 a.m. "It was light when I went in. It wasn't that cold. The conditions were real nice," he said.

Kevin's property is unique in that it gradually builds up to a 20-acre hilltop, which is roughly in the middle of the entire 80-acre area. There are old Indian mounds in this section of Indiana and Ray speculates that this may be one of those ancient mounds.

There are some areas of the incline that are around 30 degrees. Some other areas of the mound are steeper yet, while others aren't that steep. The deer predictably like to travel down the hill in these sections that aren't as steep.

"It's a heavily wooded small hill at the back of my brother's property. There is a run (trail) they use to get from field to field at the top of the hill where there is a small, grassy clearing," Ray Jones said. The Joneses were positioned to intercept any of this downhill movement at opposite ends of the base of the hill.

Ray chose to sit up next to a tree in the northeast corner of the woods. Kevin was set up several hundred yards away in the southwest corner of the property, along one of the runs that the deer use to exit the hilltop.

As the morning wore on, Ray hadn't spotted any deer, so just before 11 a.m., he decided to get up and move toward his brother. He began to climb the hill, stopping periodically to see if there were any bedded deer as he gradually approached the clearing at the top of the mound.

"As I reached the top of the hill, I checked to see if there were any deer bedding in that area that I might run to my brother, who was posted on the opposite side of the hill," he said. "As I turned to look over the top of the hill, a doe came boiling over and then a buck was chasing her."

Ray reacted immediately with his Remington 12-gauge.

"I shot three times pretty rapidly. I wasn't very far away from him ... maybe 20 yards. He went down, struggled to get back up, so I shot him again. He then just basically rolled to the bottom of the hill. He was 50 yards away from where I originally saw him. It happened so dog-gone quick. I was amazed that I got him down so quickly. I tried to figure out how I could leave him and go get my brother."

At first Ray didn't realize just how big the buck was because of how fast everything had happened.

"The first thought in mind was my father. My thoughts were with him all morning and especially after I shot the big buck. He was with me all morning. That is pretty much what I was thinking as I looked at the buck. I then realized just how big he really was," the hunter said.

It turned out to be a blessing that the buck rolled all the way to the base of the mound. "That was a good thing because it would have been a struggle to get him down," Ray joked. "We were able to drive the tractor around and get him rather easily."

After dressing the buck, the brothers loaded him into a truck and drove to a nearby meat processor and check-in station in St. Paul. The trophy tipped the scales at a large 220 pounds. The processor then caped the buck for Ray and they took it to Shelbyville taxidermist Mark Croxton that same afternoon.

The Jones buck is a rare specimen in the world of whitetails. It scores high enough to make the prestigious Boone and Crockett Club's (B&C) all-time record book as a typical, or a non-typical. Usually such racks have a mixture of a lot of typical growth and just a little bit of non-typical growth allowing it to go either way.

The rack sports a tremendous 7x7 typical frame. Five of the typical tines are over 9 inches with main beams of 27 1/8 inches and 26 2/8 inches. The typical portion loses 11 6/8 inches because of side-to-side deductions. The net typical score, after subtracting this and the non-typical deductions is an excellent 181 7/8. As a non-typical, the Jones buck measures a lofty 205 3/8.

This 18-pointer has it all. Ray chose to enter his buck into the Hoosier Record Buck Program's record book, and the all-time B&C book as a typical. It is the top typical taken by firearms for the 2004 season. In addition, it is also Shelby County's new No. 1 typical, bumping Timothy Taggart's 175 3/8 brute taken by shotgun in 1999.

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