We looked at some impressive bow kills last month. Now, here are still more of the bountiful harvest that Bluegrass State archers collected last season.
Chris White's Boone County 19-pointer scored 187 5/8 P&Y points. Photo by Bill Cooper.
The heat and humidity of late July don't exactly make for the type of weather that conjures up thoughts of hunting big whitetails. However, last summer, during an early morning drive to work, Jessy Kegley, of Greenup was stunned to suddenly spot a giant buck standing only yards away along the roadside.
"The size of the buck's rack was amazing, and being in velvet made it appear even bigger," Kegley said. "Knowing that bow season was only a month away, my immediate goal was to find out who owned the land and attempt to acquire hunting access."
Fortunately, the landowner turned out to be a good friend of Kegley's grandmother, therefore obtaining permission to hunt was not a problem. After scouting the property in mid August, he placed trail cameras in those areas where the terrain dictated a natural funnel of deer movement.
Initially, the results were a little disappointing; during the first couple of weeks the cameras didn't record any photos of the buck. However, a few days later, which coincidentally happened to be opening weekend of bow season, the hunter received his first picture of the big deer.
"An adverse wind direction prevented me from hunting the location for a couple of days," Kegley said. "But around mid week, a slight change in weather conditions gave me a chance to finally get into the area for a morning hunt."
The hunter's stand was positioned along a woods line bordering an old bottomland field now grown up in head-high weeds and saplings. A well-used deer trail meandered through the thick vegetation, heading in the general direction of a small cornfield approximately 350 yards farther down the hollow.
"It was warm and very muggy, fairly typical for early September," Kegley noted. "Knowing that deer had been feeding in the small patch of corn, I fully expected to see some activity, but the morning passed without a single deer appearing. Nevertheless, I made plans to be back in the stand before dawn."
At daybreak the following morning, a heavy ground fog obscured much of the old field and adjacent woods line. Whitetails possess an uncanny ability to move quietly through dense cover, particularly when the thick vegetation is wet with dew. Kegley had no idea a deer was approaching his location until a buck suddenly stepped into view directly in front of the stand.
Hurley Combs, Jr. of Somerset got his non-typical while hunting in Pulaski County. Photo courtesy of Hurley Combs, Jr.
"The deer was an impressive 8-pointer, in full velvet," Kegley said. "Under different circumstances, I might have considered taking the buck, but not in this situation."
Within seconds of watching the 8-pointer disappear into the woods, the hunter spotted additional movement in the field. As he looked on, a huge set of antlers suddenly materialized above the brush and high weeds. A much larger buck moved into view, following the same approximate path as the first deer.
"The buck had lost its velvet, but the size of the rack left no doubt it was the deer I was looking for," Kegley said. "By the time I got the bow drawn, the buck had closed to 14 yards."
At the shot, the big deer whirled sideways and quickly disappeared in the thick cover. For several seconds, the hunter could hear the buck crashing through the brush and then everything was quiet.
"I felt pretty good about the shot, but because of the angle, I was a little concerned that the arrow had hit a little farther back than I wanted." Kegley said. "My plan was to wait until late afternoon before looking for the deer, however, thunderstorms began developing around noon and knowing a hard rain would eliminate any blood trail, I decided to begin the search then."
Trailing was tough through the thick ground vegetation, but after approximately 100 yards he spotted the deer lying just ahead. Unfortunately, it was not dead.
"I immediately nocked another arrow and slowly eased ahead," Kegley said. "Luckily, as the buck got to its feet and turned to run, I had an open shooting opportunity and saw the arrow's fletching disappear into the rear of the deer. The buck continued on out of sight, but from watching its movements, I didn't think it would travel very far. Even so, I decided it would be best to wait until morning rather than risk pushing the deer further and perhaps off the property."
The fact that Kegley was working the night shift that particular week was probably a fortunate coincidence, because it's doubtful he would have gotten much sleep. The following morning, the hunter drove directly to the hunt site and after a relatively short search, found the buck lying about 50 yards from where it was last sighted. In this instance, there was certainly no problem with "ground shrinkage." In fact, up close the antlers seemed even bigger than he had remembered.
From an appearance standpoint, the rack exhibits a great combination of height, width, and mass. The very symmetrical 10-point frame includes long main beams that exceed 28 inches, and an antler spread of 20 2/8 inches outside, and 17 7/8 inches inside. Additionally, there are four tines that measure between 13 03/8 and 11 7/8 inches. All eight circumference measurements tape between 4 and 5 inches.
In regard to scoring, the rack grosses 183 7/8 and nets an outstanding final score of 178 7/8. Not only does this place the buck high in the Pope and Young club record book, but it also qualifies for the Boone and Crockett Club Awards and All-Time record books. Within the state, it stands as the top bowkill ever recorded for Greenup County and ranks No. 4 on the state's all-time list of P&Y typical whitetails.
CHRIS WHITE'S 19-POINTER
In late August of 2009, while doing some early season scouting on a farm in Boone County, bowhunter Chris White got a glimpse of a huge whitetail as it exited a hayfield. His friend and hunting companion, Tim Cocco, had told him there was a big buck on the property, but until that afternoon White hadn't realized exactly how big a deer he was talking about.
"The hayfield, planted in clover and alfalfa, is l
ocated on a hilltop and completely surrounded by hardwood hillsides and hollows," White noted. Although the field was fairly large, approximately 50 acres, at one point there was a narrow bottleneck that connected two larger sections. All of our previous sightings of the buck had been near that area. I decided to position my stand in a big oak located along an old fence line that was bordering the woods near the bottleneck."
Wind direction was a critical factor in regard to the stand's location, and unfortunately, weather conditions during the first week of the season were not very favorable. White did manage two brief afternoon hunts, but saw only does and a few small antlered bucks.
"The following week, afternoon winds had shifted to a more favorable direction, so I headed back to the hayfield," White said. "Not long after getting situated in the stand, I spotted three or four deer in the hollow behind me. The group was slowly feeding up the hillside toward the field."
While continuing to watch the deer, the hunter's attention was abruptly diverted by a slight flicker of movement to his right. Glancing in that direction, he was shocked to suddenly see a huge buck jump the fence only 60 yards away. Without pausing, the big deer turned and began walking down the woods line straight toward the stand.
"I immediately grabbed my bow and stood up in the stand," White said. "I remember the wind blowing in my face and thinking how perfect everything seemed to be working out."
Continuing along the woods line in a deliberate walk, the buck quickly closed the distance to less than 20 yards. In shooting position, White came to full draw, and softly mouth-bleated to stop the deer.
"There were two small trees between the stand and the field and the deer happened to stop directly behind one of them," White said. "Even worse, the buck started getting nervous and began to step backward. I had a clear 15-yard shot at the deer's neck, which normally I wouldn't have considered. However, this wasn't just any buck and I was afraid he was about to run at any second."
Remembering the countless hours of practice shooting at much smaller targets, the hunter took a deep breath, carefully aimed, and touched the release. The arrow was right on target; after stumbling forward several yards, the big whitetail went down.
"Somehow I had managed to remain pretty calm, but once the buck was on the ground, I totally lost it," White said. "I had to sit in the stand for several minutes to calm down."
One look at the buck's rack and the hunter's comments become quite understandable. There are 19 total points, 12 of which comprise the basic typical frame. Tine length is exceptional, with seven points measuring between 11 7/8 and 8 3/8 inches. The 12-point frame grosses 176 and nets 171 6/8. After including the seven additional abnormal points, totaling 15 7/8 inches, the final non-typical P&Y score is 187 5/8. In addition to qualifying for B&C Award record book, the buck ranks as the second biggest non-typical ever arrowed in Boone County and one of the top bowkills of 2009.
Hurley Combs, Jr. of Somerset got his non-typical while hunting in Pulaski County. Photo courtesy of Hurley Combs, Jr.
HURLEY COMBS' 14-POINTER
During the 2007 season, Hurley Combs, Jr. took a giant 18-point velvet buck, scoring 205 6/8 that stands as the state's all-time top velvet bowkill. Justifiably, the deer has often been referred to as a "once in a lifetime" buck. While the bowhunter certainly understands and appreciates the reference, he has never really considered the phrase to imply that there is a limit on taking record-class whitetails.
Last fall, Combs and a number of other local hunters became regular late evening spectators near several large acreage Pulaski County bean fields. While it was not uncommon for the hunters to see a number of very impressive bucks feeding in the fields, there was one particular huge whitetail that stood out from the rest.
Prior to the season, Combs acquired permission to hunt a 20-acre block of woods that the buck often used as an entry point to the beans. However, by opening weekend of bow season the big deer had disappeared. Combs and other hunters on adjacent acreages continued to watch the area for several afternoons, but the buck remained missing. Not surprisingly, a rumor quickly began to circulate that the deer had been poached.
Never fully believing the rumor, Combs decided at the end of September to place a trail camera back at the bean field. The following week, on the hunter's birthday, the camera provided the best present of all -- new photos of the big whitetail! When additional photos were recorded the next afternoon at approximately the same time, Combs' course of action was quite predictable.
Late the following evening, the hunter was positioned in a tree stand overlooking the bean field when the buck walked to within 13 yards. His arrow placed the huge deer in two record books and 19th on the state's all time list of P&Y non-typical bucks.
The buck's 14-point rack has a basic 10-point typical frame that includes long 26 5/8-inch main beams and five tines that measure between 10 7/8 and 9 inches. After netting a typical score of 170 2/8, the four additional abnormal points, totaling 15 6/8 inches, brings the final non-typical P&Y score to 186.
Robert Cates got his 168 3/8 P&Y buck on a Henderson County hunt last season. Photo courtesy of Robert Cates.
ROBERT CATES' GIANT BUCK
During the first week of November, while assisting with the soybean harvest on a Henderson County farm, bowhunter Robert Cates experienced an amazing encounter with a huge whitetail. The combine operator, after making a couple of rounds through one section of a 150-acre field, stopped to tell Cates about a giant buck he had seen.
"I really thought he was exaggerating about the deer's size," Cates said. "So he invited me to make a round on the combine with him and see for myself. As it turned out there were three deer, a doe, a small 8-pointer, and a wide-antlered buck that was much bigger than anything I could have imagined. While bedded, the deer were completely hidden by the high beans; however, they would occasionally move several yards into a different section of the field whenever the combine got too near. Obviously, the bucks wouldn't leave because of the doe."
Around noon, during a trip to haul off a full load of beans, Cates made a quick stop to pick up his hunting gear. Later that afternoon, near sundown he decided to attempt a stalk on the bu
"Drainage ravines and other scattered pockets of brush divided the bean acreage into three or four main sections," Cates said. "The deer were last seen near a small hill, and because of the wind direction I had to make a wide circle to approach the area from the opposite side."
Following one of the swaths cut by the combine, Cates eased a short distance out into the beans and stopped. Not knowing exactly where the deer were located, his plan was, hopefully, to spot the buck and then try to slip within bow range.
"I was simply standing there, surveying the field, trying to figure out where the deer might be," Cates said. "Suddenly, only 25 yards away, the buck stood up. Luckily for me, the deer was looking off in the opposite direction toward the distant combine. There was barely time to react, much less get nervous; I quickly drew, aimed and let the arrow fly."
Cates's great trophy has an awesome appearance, with main beams that tape nearly 26 inches and an antler spread of 25 5/8 inches outside, and 23 6/8 inches inside. Additionally, four tines measure between 14 5/8 and 10 3/8 inches. After grossing 179 6/8, the deer's final typical P&Y score is 168 3/8, which also qualifies for the B&C Awards record book.