Here's the lowdown on last season's biggest bow-killed bucks taken in New England. More than one was taken with a recurve bow, too! (December 2007)
This impressive 9-pointer fell to Mike Smolicz and is among the top 10 archery bucks taken in New England in 2006.
Photo courtesy of Mike Smolicz.
Year after year, many of New England's best bucks fall to the region's bowhunters. Archery hunters enjoy extended seasons that range from September through January and in many cases, particularly in southern New England, also include liberal bag limits.
In addition, archers in most New England states may hunt during the peak of the rut, providing great opportunities for mature bucks.
Archers also enjoy access to suburban properties that are often limited to bowhunting only, improving the bowhunters' odds of bumping into a big-racked monster!
According to the Northeast Big Buck Club, the region's
record-keeping and scoring organization, archers harvested more than 125 bucks that make the NBBC record book during the 2006 season (bucks that score at least 100 gross Boone and Crockett points).
In 2006, new state-record typical archery bucks fell in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Here's a roundup of the best bucks of the most recent bow season.
NEW ENGLAND'S BEST ARCHERY BUCKS FROM 2006
It's important to note that all scores and rankings reflect Northeast Big Buck Club records, with supplemental information provided by other local scoring organizations.
What follows is the final tally of the best bucks from the 2006 archery seasons -- at least as of the close of the NBBC's awards period (June 2007).
Although the NBBC scores deer from New York, Pennsylvania and other states and Canadian provinces, this article will focus primarily on New England.
It seems that every season for the last several years, at least two new archery state records have been set. In 2005, we saw new non-typical bow records for Maine and Massachusetts.
And in 2006, we set new typical bow records for Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The New England region produced some very impressive bucks during this past archery season. During the previous season in 2005, the top-end bucks consistently scored in the 170- and 180-inch range.
It should be mentioned that the number of entries for the most recent season is typically the lowest, given that it generally takes a year or two for the majority of the entries to surface. During the last two years, five of the six New England states have placed bucks in the Top 10.
It's also interesting to note that over the last two years, Massachusetts has produced more top archery bucks -- eight of the top 20 -- than any other state, continuing this state's long-standing trend of producing many of the region's best archery bucks.
Here's a state-by-state roundup of the best bow bucks from 2006:
The Bay State set a new state record for archery typicals in 2006. In Worcester County, Paul Buccacio arrowed an unbelievable 185 7/8 gross and 172 1/8 net 10-pointer.
This massive typical beat the previous state-record typical bow buck -- Mark Thomas's 175 6/8-inch 10-pointer from Norfolk County in 2004 -- by over 10 points.
Buccacio's buck is impressive, but the story is even more impressive!
Just before the 2006 season, the hunter switched from a compound bow to a traditional recurve.
While in his stand on Oct. 23, he shot over the back of a big six-point. (That buck, later killed by one of his hunting buddies, scored 105 6/8.)
Dejected at his inability to close the deal with his recurve, Buccacio got down from his climber, packed it up and started hiking out of the woods.
He heard a grunt and the sound of running deer, and quickly uttered a mouth-grunt. Suddenly, a massive buck appeared, headed right for him.
With his tree stand on his back, Buccacio nocked an arrow, raised his recurve and shot as the buck turned broadside.
The rest, as they say, is history!
Imagine that --a new state-record typical falls to a traditional archer and is shot from the ground.
And that big buck was taken just one year after the new state record non-typical was killed by another traditional archer -- a 178-inch 14-pointer, taken in Worcester County by Larry Berestka.
What are the odds of that?
In addition to Buccacio's great state record, several other notable bucks were arrowed in Massachusetts last season. The largest non-typical bow buck of the year, arrowed in late December, fell to Stephen Ingrassia in Plymouth County.
Ingrassia's buck had 16 scorable points and grossed 166 7/8 Pope and Young points. On the right side, the buck had a large set of abnormal points that grew like a second main beam. This impressive buck ranks No. 4 all-time for non-typical bow bucks in the state.
Rounding out the Bay State bucks that made the regional top 10 is Ken Pereira's Bristol County 10-point typical scoring 162 4/8 gross Pope and Young points.
If you're a frequent reader of this magazine, you already know that the Ocean State has a reputation for producing an incredible number of outstanding muzzleloader trophies.
It seems that every season for the last several years, at least two new archery state records have been set.
But archers in this state also do well. The 2006 season established a new state record for archery typicals.
Stephen Ponte arrowed a 172 7/8-inch gross B&C 10-pointer in Newport County in late November, besting the old record -- Stephen Burchett's 165 2/8 10-pointer taken in Providence County in 1996 -- by more than 7 inches.
Ponte's new record had main beams of 26 and 25 7/8 inches and an inside spread of just under 20 inches. His impressive buck netted 166 6/8 inches, qualifying it for the B&C annual awards program.
Ponte's buck is the all-time eighth-largest archery typical from the six New England states. We can say that puts Rhody on the map when it comes to archery trophy potential!
In fact, in 2005, Jerry Sherman arrowed a Rhode Island buck that made the regional top 10 as well -- a 157-inch 9-pointer.
Muzzleloader hunters need not worry about losing their claim to be the most prolific trophy harvesters in the state. But Ocean State archers are certainly catching up!
New Hampshire hunters had an outstanding buck harvest in 2006, with many fine deer taken by archers, gun hunters and muzzleloaders.
But gun hunter John Klucky got most of the accolades with his 199-inch typical 15-pointer that established a new state record for typical bucks.
Archers didn't come close to shooting a buck of that caliber, nor did they challenge any state or category records. However, the Granite State did put one buck in the regional top 10 in 2006, just as it did in 2005.
In mid-November last season, John Page Sr. took the biggest bow buck of the year in Rockingham County.
His buck scored 156 3/8 gross and 150 6/8 net Pope and Young points. This impressive 9-pointer had main beams over 26 inches, bases over 5 inches and an inside spread over 20 inches. To complement the massive rack, the buck dressed 210 pounds.
This exceptional trophy was the eighth-largest archery buck from New England in 2006.
Another impressive 9-pointer was arrowed in Hillsborough County by Greg Carchidi and scored 147 gross P&Y points.
The year before in Cheshire County, Joe Belcik shot the best archery buck from the state, also a 9-pointer, scoring 156 3/8 gross P&Y.
Once again, the Nutmeg State produced some of the best bucks taken by the region's archers. From the 2006 season, in fact, four of the top 10 bucks came from this densely populated state.
Bowhunters do particularly well here because they can get access to smaller tracts of private land more readily than can gun hunters.
And the bow season is quite liberal, running from mid-September to late January in some zones.
In 2006, three different bucks were taken that grossed over 160 inches.
The largest was taken in November by Ted Reutter in Fairfield County.
This non-typical 13-pointer scored 165 4/8 gross and 153 net Pope and Young points and ranks No. 8 all-time for Connecticut's archery non-typicals. Reutter also owns the No. 11 buck in that category!
The largest typical bow buck taken in the state last season was shot by Tim Hogan in Hartford County.
This buck scored 164 2/8 gross and 157 1/8 net. This 10-point typical ranks No. 5 all-time in the state for typical bow bucks, and dressed out at a whopping 247 pounds!
A third buck worth mentioning was taken by Mike Smolicz in New London County. This 9-pointer scored 162 gross P&Y points. It had main beams of 28 and 27 3/8 inches, and G-2s of 12 6/8 and 11 5/8 inches. What an impressive 9-pointer!
When it comes to bow-killed bucks, this state continues to shine. And you can bet that 2007 will bring more of the same!
Though Vermont is not the trophy whitetail hotspot it was in years past, hunters continue to harvest a number of big-bodied, big-racked bucks, including some very good deer harvested during the archery season.
For example, in 2005, Ben Morse arrowed a new state-record typical bow buck in Bennington County.
Morse's buck scored 150 5/8 gross and 142 2/8 net Pope and Young points, and currently stands as the largest archery typical buck taken in Vermont according to NBBC records.
In 2006, no new records were set or challenged. However the NBBC scored a nice 8-pointer entered from Orange County that grossed 129 5/8. It was arrowed in early October by Mike Dempsey.
Let's hope this is just the start of Vermont's resurgence as a strong producer of trophy bucks!
No state in the Northeast can match Maine's long-standing reputation as a prolific producer of 200-pound trophy bucks. This state has more entries in the Boone and Crockett record book than any other in New England.
Each year, many heavy-racked and heavy-bodied bucks are taken by Maine's hunters, and it's a generally safe bet that most of them are taken during the November rifle season.
Occasionally, Maine's blackpowder hunters connect on some whoppers during the December muzzleloader season as well.
But Pine Tree State bowhunters shoot comparatively few trophy bucks in the region, partly due to the challenging hunting conditions.
The 2005 season brought us a great bow buck -- Rick Roy's 165 3/8-inch Kennebec County 13-pointer. But no significant bucks have surfaced (yet) from this state's 2006 archery season.
OUTLOOK FOR 2007
The 2006 archery season in the Northeast was one that we won't soon forget. It seems that each year brings new state-record bucks to the archery category as more hunters take advantage of extended seasons and liberal bag limits.
To help hunters in their quest, bowhunting technology and equipment are constantly improving. Yet we are seeing greater success by traditional bowhunters as well.
Given the growing numbers of bowhunter across the region and the success they've been experiencing in recent years, it's safe to assume that the 2007 seasons will likely produce one or more new state-record bucks.
In any case, we can certainly expect to see bowhunters taking some of the most impressive bucks in each state during the coming season.
To learn more about the big bucks taken in 2006 throughout New England, visit the Northeast Big Buck Club at www.bigbuckclub.com. Or phone them at (508) 752-8762, or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NBBC's fifth annual record book, Northeast Trophy Whitetails V, is available for purchase through the mail or via www.bigbuckclub.com.
Interested hunters may purchase a copy of the 339-page hardcover book through the mail by sending $39 plus $5.60 shipping to NBBC Book V, 390 Marshall Street, Paxton, MA 01612.
Find more about New England fishing and hunting at NewEnglandGameandFish.com