The supply of world-class bucks in the Bluegrass State seems endless as more hunters bag huge deer. Here are five more anything but typical non-typicals to savor! (December 2009)
Edward Barnett hunted in steady rain to take this outstanding 20-point buck from Rockcastle County. His deer ranks as the second-biggest non-typical of the 2008 season. Taxidermy by Gerry Wethington.
Photo by Bill Cooper.
In 2003, Edward Barnett of Berea took advantage of a chance to buy 150 acres of land in Rockcastle County. However, for Barnett, this was more than merely a land purchase; it was a rare opportunity to acquire a specific tract of land that was once owned by his grandfather, and where he had briefly lived as a small boy. In a very real sense, the acquisition could accurately be referred to as a "homecoming."
"My family's connection to the land was definitely a big factor," Barnett said. "But I was also interested in having a place to hunt deer, and over 75 percent of the property was in timber. Our initial problem was simply a lack of deer."
During the first couple of years, Barnett planted supplemental food plots and eliminated the hunting pressure, realizing all the time that his efforts would be useless without help. Fortunately, his neighbors were not only cooperative, but also initiated similar planting and hunting guidelines on their properties.
"It really took a lot of 'hands-on' work in the beginning," Barnett noted. "But after two years we could see a noticeable upswing in the deer population. Since then, the improvement has continued, both in terms of deer numbers and the size of bucks seen."
In the fall of 2007, an impressive line of scrapes and rubbed trees were found along an old timber road on the farm. Although Barnett, his son Dustin, and a close friend, Adrian Issaacs, bowhunted the property a number of times, the deer was never sighted.
Last year, while scouting the farm in late October, Barnett discovered that the buck had returned. Only this time, there were several more scrapes along the old road, and trees big as fence posts had been rubbed. Nevertheless, through the opening weekend of the November gun season, the big deer remained unsighted.
"I wasn't totally surprised that we hadn't seen the buck," Barnett said. "I knew that big, mature bucks often develop nocturnal movement patterns. Additionally, after a neighboring landowner showed me trail camera photos of a huge drop-tine buck, I immediately assumed it was the same deer responsible for the scrapes and rubs on our place. In those types of situations, there is no way of knowing where the buck spends most of his time."
On Tuesday morning, after rain cancelled the construction job where Barnett was working, he hurried home, grabbed his hunting gear and headed for the farm. He also called Adrian to see if he might be interested in joining him.
Because of the cold, rainy weather, the two men climbed into a shooting house overlooking a 20-acre bean field. By early afternoon, Barnett announced that regardless of the rain he was going to try a different location for the remainder of the day.
"I just couldn't get that scrape line off my mind," Barnett said. "I grabbed an old bottle of Knight & Hale doe estrus that was sitting in the corner of the shooting house and headed up the hill."
During his walk, the rain began to fall much harder. In fact, the hunter began to question whether he could tolerate the weather conditions while sitting in an open tree stand.
"When I reached the location, I poured the remainder of the doe estrus in the scrapes and on my boots," Barnett said. "About 75 yards down the old road from my tree stand location, a big oak tree had recently fallen. Fortunately, I was able to sit under the tree, near the stump and be partially shielded from the heavy rain."
Shortly after 3 p.m., with the relentless rain still pelting down, the hunter detected a flicker of movement off to his extreme right. Slowly turning his head in that direction, the view sent a sudden shock wave through his nervous system; standing only 30 feet away was a giant buck!
"I was facing in the wrong direction, with my rifle under a rain cover between my legs," Barnett said. "I decided my only hope was to remain still and allow the deer to move far enough off so that I could maneuver into some sort of shooting position."
Obviously not alarmed but very alert, the big whitetail began to slowly move away from the fallen tree; taking short deliberate steps, with its head low near the ground. Frozen in position, the hunter continued to watch the buck out of the corner of his eye.
"From its actions, I really believe the deer was scenting the doe estrus I had poured out," Barnett said. "When the buck got about 45 yards away, I took the rifle out and rolled around onto my knees. By this time, my excitement level had reached a point that I was shaking too bad to shoot off hand. Luckily, I was able to brace the rifle against part of the tree. When I pulled the trigger, the deer dropped in its tracks."
Walking to where the giant buck was lying, Barnett no longer felt the rain and cold. All of the work and time now seemed irrelevant, and perhaps best of all, he had taken the buck of a lifetime on his family's land.
The awesome rack includes 20 scorable points, 10 of which comprise the basic typical frame. The long main beams exceed 27 inches, and the inside spread is 19 2/8 inches. The tine length is excellent, with four tines measuring between 10 7/8 and 9 1/8 inches. Antler mass throughout the entire rack is exceptional, too. For example, two of the eight circumference measurements exceed 6 inches, and four are greater than 5 inches.
In regard to scoring, the typical frame grosses 178 3/8 and nets 170 4/8. After including the 10 additional abnormal points, totaling 29 4/8 inches, the buck's final non-typical Boone and Crockett (B&C) score is 200 0/8. This qualifies the deer for B&C's Awards and All-Time record books, and ranks it as the state's No. 2 non-typical for the 2008 season. Additionally, it stands as the biggest non-typical whitetail ever recorded from Rockcastle County.
ROGER LONG'S 17-POINTER
Well before dawn on the second morning of the gun deer season, Roger Long of Madisonville climbed into a familiar hillside tree stand on his land in Hopkins County. At daybreak, he was amazed to see that a large cedar tree directly in front of the stand had been freshly raked and rubbed sometime during the night.
On two different occasions during late
summer, Long had sighted a very big non-typical buck on the property. However, despite hunting the farm numerous times during bow season, he had yet to encounter the big whitetail.
"Shortly after daybreak, a young 7-pointer came over the hill, passed under my stand, and continued on up the hillside in front of me," Long said. "Minutes later, a doe appeared from the same direction the 7-pointer had just gone. She was acting very nervous, and I assumed the 7-pointer had probably been harassing her."
The doe slowly descended the hillside and was approaching the stand, when Long happened to glance up toward the ridgetop and saw the huge non-typical walk into view. The big whitetail began following the doe's path down the hill, until a shot from the hunter's rifle shattered the morning silence and permanently ended the deer's journey.
The 17-point rack's long main beams of 26 and 25 inches hook sharply inward, creating a tight inside spread of only 15 1/8 inches. However, this minor deficiency is more than compensated by the 10-point typical frame's outstanding tine length. This includes 8-inch brow tines, paired G-2s that tape 11 0/8 and 10 1/8 inches, G-3s of 10 1/8 and 9 7/8 inches, and 8-inch G-4s. The typical frame has an impressive net score of 173 3/8. Adding in the 7 abnormal points, totaling 17 2/8 inches brings the final non-typical B&C score to 190 5/8. This qualifies the deer for B&C's Awards record book.
JASON ABELL'S 23-POINTER
The wind was blowing and a light rain falling when Jason Abell arrived at his Larue County hunt site. Because of the early morning weather conditions, the hunter elected to utilize a natural ground blind rather than use a tree stand. His hunting location was a 40-acre block of thick second- growth timber surrounded by bean fields.
Abell was hunting a big gnarly-racked buck his trail cameras had photographed and that he had sighted twice during scouting trips at the location. On this particular morning, he was positioned behind the trunk of a fallen tree on the edge of a cedar thicket. A well-used trail along the nearby woods line was one of the sites where the buck had been photographed.
"I had been there a couple of hours, primarily focused on watching the woods line directly in front of me," Abell said. "I happened to glance over my shoulder and immediately spotted a doe walking through the beans about 45 yards away. Seconds later, another doe walked into view and behind her trailed the big buck. The deer were moving at a quick pace as they angled across the field toward another woods line."
His rifle ready, the hunter waited momentarily, allowing the big whitetail to reach a high point in the field. Abell then mouth grunted. As the buck abruptly stopped and turned in his direction, he fired and the deer went down.
"Everything happened so fast, I really never had time to get nervous," Abell said. "But when the buck dropped, I kind of lost it; I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest!"
One quick look at the buck's rack and the hunter's comments become quite understandable. There are 23 scorable points, 11 of which form a 6x5 typical frame. Long 26-inch beams, 7-inch brow tines, four additional tines that tape 10 inches, and outstanding antler mass, combine for a net typical score of 162 0/8. The 12 additional abnormal points, totaling 27 7/8 inches, push the final non-typical B&C score to 189 7/8. This qualifies the deer for B&C's Awards record book.
DEVIN CHASTAIN'S 14-POINTER
The temperature hovered around 18 degrees when 16-year-old Devin Chastain crawled out of a warm bed in his Todd County home. But the bone-chilling cold was the last thing on his mind this particular Saturday morning. It was the last weekend of the November gun season and the previous afternoon his uncle, Terry Chastain, had sighted a giant buck on a nearby farm.
A trail camera first photographed the impressive whitetail, with its amazingly long tines, in late summer. But since that time, during bow, early muzzleloader seasons, and two weeks of gun season, no one had been able to take the buck.
Well before daybreak, Devin climbed into a tree stand between a 30-acre block of woods and a combined bean field. He had hunted this location before and knew that deer often moved in and out of the timber along that section of the woods line. More importantly, it was near the farm where Terry had sighted the big buck the previous evening.
Not long after daybreak, Devin watched two young bucks, a 6-pointer and an 8-pointer move by him along a nearby fence line. Using binoculars to continually scan the surrounding terrain, he suddenly spotted the big deer standing on a small hill in the bean field, approximately 100 yards away.
"By the time, I got my rifle up, the buck had moved out of the beans and was within several yards of entering the woods," Devin said. "I mouth grunted to stop the deer, and quickly fired; when I looked up the buck had disappeared."
Devin immediately called his dad, Neil, and related what had happened. Fortunately, within minutes of Neil's arrival, they quickly found the buck lying dead several yards within the woods. Certainly a memorable occasion that neither father or son will ever forget.
The 14-point rack's great height can be attributed to the exceptionally long tines. For example, the paired G-2s tape 13 7/8 and 12 5/8 inches, and the G-3s measure 12 3/8 and 10 7/8 inches. The main beams are 25 inches and the inside spread is 16 3/8 inches. The 10-point typical frame nets 165 1/8. After adding in 19 7/8 inches of abnormal points, the final non-typical B&C score is 185 0/8, qualifying the buck for B&C's Awards record book
BLAKE MUNGER'S 15-POINTER
Before daybreak, on opening morning of gun season, Blake Munger of Murray was positioned in a tree stand, located midway between a dense pine thicket and a block of hardwoods. He was specifically hunting a big drop-tine buck that he had sighted in the same area during bow season.
"I could hear deer moving in the woods before daylight," Munger said. "At daybreak, a 6-pointer walked out of the woods, then immediately turned around and went back in. All the while, I could hear the sounds of other deer running in the leaves. Finally, a doe appeared, walked about halfway toward the pine thicket and stopped, looking back toward the woods. I continued to look all around, and when I glanced back toward the woods, a really big buck was standing near the woods line."
Not one to question luck, the hunter immediately raised his rifle and fired, dropping the deer. The buck field-dressed 190 pounds and had a huge 15-point rack.
The basic 10-point typical frame has 26 inch main beams, an 18 6/8 inch inside spread, and exhibits a great combination of tine length and antler mass. After netting 169 4/8, the 5 abnormal points, totaling 17 2/8, brings the final non-typical B&C score to 186 6/8, qualifying the deer for B&C's Awards record book.