Have Horns, Will Travel

Kevin Foley moments after killing his largest buck. (Courtesy Kevin Foley)

Top typical deer in national contest moved in time for gun opener

Kevin Foley was glad his deer of a lifetime was the traveling sort.

On Nov. 17, 2012, Foley killed the largest deer of his hunting lifetime, a 15-pointer, near Clintonville, Wis., a little less than 60 miles west of Green Bay in central Wisconsin. Foley had seen the deer before, but never on the wooded parcel of land he owns and maintains with his father and two brothers.

“It never showed on any of our trail cameras,” he said. “But I saw it on some pictures taken on a farm about two miles away. It showed up there right up until (the start of) gun season.”

Foley said there are large deer on his family’s acreage – his brother-in-law killed a buck in the 160-range during bow season – but none like the one he saw in the pictures.

Foley’s deer was scored at 185.0 for the Outdoor Channel National Deer Contest powered by BuckScore, the first national whitetail deer scoring and photography competition. The score was the nation’s highest in the Adult Firearm Typical division out of 99 entrants. The contest ended Jan. 31, but hundreds of examples of the finest deer in the nation can still be seen at nationaldeercontest.com.

Click image for top deer in the National Deer Contest

Foley had not heard of the contest at the time he made the kill.

“My dad said something about it not long after that. He had heard about it somewhere,” said Foley, 36, a foreman on a road construction crew who lives in Greenville, Wis. “We thought we would give it shot and enter. To win it, that’s awesome.”

The actual kill of the massive buck was fairly simple, but Foley said he knew his shot window was very limited.

“I knew I had one shot,” he said, “and that was it.”

Foley was sitting on his stand on the opening morning of modern gun season. At about 9 o’clock, he heard a crunch in the dense brush surrounding his stand.

“Then I saw him, about 40 yards away, walking kind of slowly,” he said. “The area is pretty brushy, so I was only going to have the one shot.”

After he took it, the big buck bolted and disappeared into the brush.

“I wasn’t sure how well I hit him,” Foley said. “But when I saw the first bit of blood (on the ground), I turned and there he was, about 30 yards away.

“I’ve been hunting since I was 12, and that’s the best one, the biggest one.”

Foley’s family has owned the 56-acre land plot since 1994. Management by it and owners of surrounding acreage has meant for a vibrant deer herd.

“All of the adjacent property is 100-acre lots of hardwood, and all of that is surrounded by farmland,” Foley said. “So it’s pretty much made to be good land for deer. Then we practice good management, and the others in the area do the same. We will pass on a lot of 2- and 3-year-old eight-pointers. As a result, we get some nice deer.”

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