When Kentucky made some dramatic changes to its deer season back in the early 1990s, no one could imagine shooting only one buck per season. It was controversial at the time, but this regulation is now accepted, and most hunters understand that the direction the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources took with this management has moved Kentucky into the ranks of trophy deer states.
Prior to the late 1980s, Kentucky only had a few Boone and Crockett entries, but a recent list has Kentucky ranked No. 5 with 992 total B&C entries since 1956. Until a few years ago most of the Commonwealths trophy deer were taken in the western part of the state, but this is quickly changing. During the 2017-2018 season, Meade and Ohio counties produced the most B&C entries but the real news is 16 additional counties also had entries — and this above and beyond Pope and Young entries.
MICHAEL FORREST’S 211 1/8 BOW KILL.
Like some hunters, Michael Forrest and his family quickly recognized that the deer they would call Hulk was trophy class.
“We spotted him about five years ago when he was a mainframe 6- or 9-pointer,” said Forrest.
Forrest and his family watched the buck over several years. By 2016, the buck everyone was looking for was nicknamed Hulk by Forrest’s dad. Hulk was well known and had been seen on cameras up to 5 miles away. The previous year, a neighbor had a shot at Hulk and missed.
The Friday before the 2016 gun season, Forrest was bowhunting and saw Hulk for the first time that season. The old buck had survived the stress of the rut and winter weather. It was on this hunt that Forrest finally had a shot at the buck.
“There was a doe and two small bucks chasing the doe and about that time Hulk came off the hill,” Forrest said. “I flat goofed up and missed him 30 yards out because I used the wrong pin and shot right over him.”
But things did not look good for Hulk later that winter. In January, Forrest and the neighbors were positive Hulk would never make it till spring. Camera photos verified the rut had taken a toll on this dominant buck. No one was seeing Hulk, and everyone assumed the old buck died during the winter.
In the fall of 2017, Forrest set up his stand on an oak, which had an old abandoned roadway running along it and there was a cedar thicket near the stand.
“About 3 to 3:30 p.m., a doe and fawn come out of the woods into the radish patch, almost at the same time an 8-pointer came in grunting and chasing her.”
As the next 20 minutes passed, a second buck came down the same path, grunting all the way down the hill. This buck made a scrape about 15 yards from Forrest on an old roadbed, before chasing the doe. He was a 9-pointer with a kicker. Forrest considered taking him;however, the buck kept posturing and looking back toward the cedar thicket.
“About that time, I heard a roar coming off the hill, which kept getting closer and closer,” said Forrest.
Turns out, it was a deep continuous grunt. Forrest figured it had to be either Hulk or a 10-pointer that they had been seeing. When Forrest saw the antlers, he knew it was Hulk.
The deer came along the old roadbed and right under Forrest’s stand, but a large oak limb was blocking the shot. As Forrest was concentrating on taking this shot, the 9-pointer was only 25 yards to Forrest’s left. Both were bristled up, leaving little doubt that the pair was about to spar.
Sometime during this show, the nine-pointer walked back into the cedar thicket allowing Forrest to concentrate his shot at Hulk. Hulk finally took two extra steps, allowing Forrest to take a shot. Hulk grunted and moved a short distance up the hill and crashed.
As Forrest examined the buck, looking at old wounds, he realized Hulk had been through numerous fights and near misses with hunters over the past years. It was a testament to Hulk’s status.
JESSE ANDERSON’S213 1/8 BLACK POWDER.
Jesse Anderson’s family has several places to hunt that they farm. On one that he had just recently started hunting, he had set up several stands and cameras.
“I got my first picture of this deer on Halloween night,” said Anderson.
After seeing how massive this buck was, Anderson began hunting him, but the neighbors had seen this deer as well and had been pursuing him for several years. About a week later, Anderson got another picture of the buck and started hunting him through both the early bow and gun seasons. After the rifle season went out, he continued to chase the buck, having four interactions with the deer. At this point the old buck was setting a very predictable schedule coming or going to the same location at the same time each day.
“By muzzleloader season he was getting really brave and I had a feeling he was going to die because so many people were hunting this buck,” said Anderson.
At this point, Anderson knew the buck arrived in the same area every morning about 6 or 6:15 a.m. When a buck of this size class gets that punctual, a hunter just expects to glance back and have the deer there. So when the buck did not show up one morning, Anderson was thinking the worse.
“I heard something rustling behind me, turned around and there were a couple of does out in the field facing the opposite direction like they were watching something,” Anderson said.
The sun was up enough that it was lighting up the woods as Anderson got a glimmer of a rack through the trees. Finally, after days on end and countless early mornings, Anderson got up and made his muzzleloader ready. After it took a few more steps, Anderson knew it was the big buck and got ready to shoot. Unfortunately, the deer was just across the property line looking over the field. Although the old buck had seemed careless over the previous weeks, that day the buck was on alert.
As the moments passed slowly Anderson remained ready, knowing that the slightest movement would be detected by the old buck. Then, the monster jumped the fence onto the property, allowing a shot.
Anderson had pursued this buck with bow, rifle and crossbow, but it was a muzzleloader that finally did the trick. Persistence through multiple seasons paid off.
GEORGE HEHR’S 212 5/8 RIFLE BUCK
In his home, George Hehr has 60-plus years of trophies, including kudo, caribou and whitetails. However, the buck Hehr took in 2017 is his best, because at 81 years old Hehr is still not ready stop hunting, using technology to his benefit.
“I use trail cameras and pull cards once a week,” said Hehr. “I really enjoy going through photos, but one night as I was looking, there he was! I almostfell out of my chair.”
Hehr discovered the buck passed his camera everyday about an hour after dark. At one point, the buck disappeared for three days, and he was sure someone had taken him. However, after no news of big bucks being shot, Hehr thought the old buck was still around.
Although a longtime bowhunter, Hehr was not able to bow hunt in 2017 due to injuries from an automobile accident. He was waiting for the rifle season, keeping his routine of checking cameras short to prevent the buck from getting pressured.
While studying photos, Hehr noticed the old buck always approached one camera in the identical direction. With this tidbit of information, and knowing the prevailing wind was south-southwest, Hehr set his ground blind in the perfect location. However, things changed abruptly when the weather report said the winds were shifting to north-northeast.
Suddenly, the setup was entirely wrong. Since Hehr’s experience with ground blinds is that deer have to get used to them, he immediately grabbed another blind and set it up in a different area far enough back that hopefully the buck might not spot it. The only workable location was 200 yards away, which he knew was reasonable.
Opening morning was cold and after watching several deer, Hehr took a break, went to the house for lunch and a nap. However, he knew he needed to get out there. By 1:30, he was back in the blind. He was periodically glancing across the field when he saw the buck on the same trail Hehr had planned.
As the buck was quickly moving along, Hehr wanted to stop him so he hollered but the buck kept moving. Hehr hollered again, and this time the old buck stopped, allowing a shot.
As George Hehr told how this buck compared to others he had taken during the past 60 years, it became obviously that this was truly the buck of a lifetime.
2017-2018 Boone & Crockett Counties
Meade (2 typical and 1 non-typical)
Ohio (1 typical and 1 non-typical)
(Counties with 1 B&C Buck)
Top Trophies 2017-2018 Season
185 4⁄8. James Ray Thompson. Henry County. Bow
184 5⁄8. Scott Jacobs. Owen County. Modern Gun
170 6⁄8Mary Hood. Edmonson County. Modern Gun
198 0⁄8. Robert E. Cox. Caldwell County. Modern Gun
194 2⁄8. Andy Hudson. McLean County. Crossbow
193 1⁄8. Robin Gassett. Harrison County. Modern Gun