Photo courtesy of Skip Woodruff.
There’s finally some big news out of Vermont! Last season a new state-record muzzleloader buck was harvested in the Green Mountain State, a state that has struggled in recent years to produce a trophy buck of any kind.
Maybe, just maybe, things are starting to change thanks to antler restrictions imposed several years ago. It sure is good to feature a story from this state about a new state record for muzzleloader hunters!
Skip Woodruff hunts in the same little town in Windham County that he has been hunting his entire life. He knows most of the great places to hunt and has walked just about every square inch of huntable ground there.
Woodruff’s son, Chip, is also his best hunting buddy. Chip had been hunting an area where several deer had been working some apple trees on a regular basis. So, on Dec. 9, father and son headed to the area. They picked up the tracks of a buck in a few inches of good tracking snow. It seemed as if the buck had been making some rubs on this softwood hillside. Woodruff was convinced that deer were spending a lot of time in the area before making their way across a small brook and up onto a ridge. Unfortunately, the ridge was posted against hunting. So, Woodruff decided that the area near the ridge would be a great place to hunt first thing the following morning.
Although Woodruff does not consider himself much of a “sitter,” he thought he could stand it for an hour or so the next morning. He and Chip headed to the woods and were greeted by warm, rainy conditions, with the snow mostly gone. The pair went to opposite ends of the hillside with a plan of sitting as long as possible. When they reached the end of their patience, they would get up and hunt slowly toward each other, a tactic they have used successfully many times in the past.
It was already full light at 7 a.m. as Woodruff worked his way quietly and carefully through some hemlocks toward the spot he had hoped to make his stand. He was nearly to the spot when he saw what he thought was a doe running off in the direction of the brook. He was disgusted with himself for scaring the deer and was sure he had blown any chance of seeing the buck. But at this point, he also knew he couldn’t change his plans, so he stood still and looked around for a while.
Suddenly, his eyes settled on a huge set of antlers There was a great buck standing broadside about 40 yards away, apparently looking intently in the direction where the doe had gone with no idea Woodruff was standing there!
Woodruff realized it was the buck the doe was running from, not him, so he hadn’t blown it after all! Woodruff slowly raised his Thompson/Center .45-caliber Omega rifle that his boys had given him on his birthday a few years back. He aimed slightly behind the deer’s shoulder and fired.
The deer whirled and ran in the opposite direction, out of Woodruff’s line of sight. He quickly reached into his vest pocket to get another speed loader, but the pocket was empty! He had switched gear because of the rain and left all his reloads in his other vest in the car. He would not be able to make a follow-up shot!
Woodruff calmed himself and remembered that he had shot many deer in the liver and watched them run off like that, only to find them about 100 yards away. But Woodruff knew better than to start following the deer with an empty gun, so he called Chip on the radio.
“I think I just shot a monster buck,” he told his son.
He asked Chip to head back to the rig the get the loads from his other vest before he headed over to meet him, and Chip obliged.
Waiting for Chip, Woodruff began to have second thoughts. Had he killed the buck of his life, or did he miss? How could he ever tell anyone about the size of those antlers and have them believe him?
As his anxiety grew and impatience began to overtake him, Chip finally arrived. Woodruff reloaded his rifle, and the pair set out to find the deer. The big buck had run only 100 yards.
At first glance, Woodruff realized the deer was every bit as big as he thought it was! Although Woodruff was a bit surprised to find that the enormous rack only had 8 points, he was amazed by the mass of the rack and the giant frame.
This was truly the buck of a lifetime, and he didn’t have to worry about whether or not anyone would believe his story now!
THE WOODRUFF BUCK
In February, Woodruff brought his buck to the Northeast Big Buck Club to be scored during the big Springfield Sportsman’s Show in Springfield, Massachusetts.
NBBC scorers attend the show each year and display more than 100 of the Northeast’s best bucks from recent years, while also providing scoring services for bucks taken the previous season or that have not yet been entered in the record book.
Woodruff’s buck was scored by certified NBBC scorers and also accepted to the Vermont Big Game Trophy Club records as well. And the final score was very impressive, making it the new state-record muzzleloader typical.
The Woodruff Buck has a massive 8-point frame that grosses 151 1/8 inches and nets 146 4/8 Boone and Crockett points. The inside spread of 18 6/8 inches is framed by sweeping main beams of 24 3/8 on the right and 24 inches on the left. The G-2s were an eye-popping 12 inches (right) and 11 3/8 inches (left). The bases were a matching 4 3/8 inches long, with good mass throughout the circumference measurements.
The buck dressed out at 160 pounds. Given that it was mid-December, we can assume the buck would have dressed close to 200 pounds at the beginning of the rut.
Mike Ingerson took Vermont’s previous record blackpowder typical in Essex County in 2000. His 10-pointer scored 145 inches gross and 140 4/8 inches net.
Holding down the No. 3 spot for typical muzzleloader bucks from Vermont is Ryan Perkins’ 9-pointer from Bennington County. Perkins’ buck was taken in 2003 and scored 143 2/8 inches gross and 133 6/8 inches net.
JUST THE BEGINNING?
We hope this is the beginning of a new era of trophy production for the Green Mountain State. Over the
last few years, only a small handful of bucks scoring 150 gross Boone and Crockett or better have been taken in this state, while neighboring states continue to produce bucks scoring in the 180s, 190s and even over 200 gross B&C.
There is no reason why Vermont’s habitat should not be capable of producing record-class trophies. And with luck, the antler restrictions and changes in hunting regulations introduced over the last several years will help state hunters realize that potential. For now, let’s enjoy the excitement that Skip Woodruff’s new state-record muzzleloader typical 8-pointer has created!
SCORE YOUR BUCK
Jeff Brown and Bob Fontaine founded the Northeast Big Buck Club in 1996. They score whitetails and maintain records regionally for the Northeast, including Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. The club will be expanding into New Jersey in 2009.
While maintaining a unique regional focus on the Northeast’s long-standing deer-hunting traditions, the club also maintains records on a state-by-state basis, working closely with other state record-keeping organizations.
For more information about the Northeast Big Buck Club or to purchase the latest record book, visit the club’s Web site at www.bigbuckclub. com, call (508) 752-8762, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to NBBC, 390 Marshall Street, Paxton, MA 01612.
Interested hunters should also check out the recently formed Vermont Big Game Trophy Club online at www. vermontbiggametrophyclub.com.
Brad Hanson and Curtis Smiley founded the Vermont Big Game Trophy Club in March 2008. Recognizing the lack of a current big game records-keeping system in Vermont, the pair set up a record-keeping club for all four species of Vermont’s native big game (deer, bear, moose and turkey).
For more information about this exciting new organization, call Brad Hanson at (802) 893-8011.