Jeanetta Flanery from Fenton was trying to squeeze in some hunting time before going to work. At the time, she was hoping only to get a shot at a buck from her tree stand. The thoughts of arrowing a state-record whitetail never crossed her mind. (December 2007)
The 16-point whitetail Jeanetta Flanery bagged Oct. 7, 2006, set a new high mark among women in the non-typical archery category. The large, beautiful rack nets 185 5/8 points, qualifying for national record books while taking the top spot in state-record whitetails killed by women hunters.
Photo courtesy of Jeanetta Flanery.
Like many dedicated bow deer hunters, Jeanetta Flanery from Fenton was trying to squeeze in some hunting time on the morning of Oct. 7, 2006 before going to work. At the time, she was hoping to see some deer and possibly get a shot at a buck from her tree stand. The thoughts of arrowing a state-record whitetail never crossed her mind, but that's what she did that morning and she accomplished the feat before even reaching her stand.
The 16-point whitetail Flanery bagged that morning in Livingston County set a new high mark among women in the non-typical archery category. The large, beautiful rack measures a gross score of 188 3/8 and nets 185 5/8, which is high enough to qualify for national records maintained by the Pope and Young and Boone and Crockett clubs, besides a top spot in state records. Non-typical bow kills must score 125 to make it into state records compiled by Commemorative Bucks of Michigan (CBM). The minimum entry scores for Pope and Young and Boone and Crockett are 150 and 185, respectively.
The previous state-record non-typical among female archers was a 17-pointer collected in 1993 in Genesee County by Linda Luna. The Luna buck scores 173 1/8. In an amazing coincidence, another woman arrowed a trophy non-typical similar in size to the Luna buck on the same day Flanery got her state-record deer. Kelly Hatch was hunting in Washtenaw County on the evening of Oct. 7 when she connected on a whopper 16-pointer. Her deer netted 164 1/8 points after measuring a gross score of 172 points.
Hatch was hunting from a tree stand when the buck came along. She started counting points. When she got up to five and realized there were still more, she decided she had better shoot the deer and finish counting later. That's what she did. A second buck with a rack similar in size to the one she killed was with her deer and may still be out there because she didn't hear about one that size taken by anyone else.
The Flanery buck ranks fifth among non-typicals on record for Livingston County, according to the seventh edition of Michigan Big Game Records published by CBM. The county's top two non-typicals were taken by male bowhunters. Michel LaFountain arrowed a 20-pointer netting 209 5/8 inches in 2000 and Patrick Harris tagged a 23-pointer, netting 195 5/8 inches in 1995. On a statewide basis, Flanery's buck will rank in the top 30 among non-typical bow kills.
Last fall was Flanery's seventh year of bowhunting for whitetails. She had taken two other bucks with archery equipment before last fall. Her first buck, an 8-pointer she thinks was a yearling, was taken during her first year of bowhunting in 2000.
After listening to her husband, brothers and father-in-law talk about their bowhunting experiences, Flanery's husband talked her into trying it one day during the summer of 2000 when they were in a sporting goods store. They bought all of the equipment she needed that day. She got her first buck ever that fall as a first-time bowhunter.
She nailed her second buck, a 7-pointer, in 2002. That one would have also been an 8-point if it weren't for a broken tine on the left side.
Flanery said she could have shot smaller bucks, but her family has a rule about passing up young bucks. If they want meat, they shoot a doe instead of a spike, forkhorn or small 6-point. They pass on young bucks with small antlers.
Flanery started deer hunting with a rifle when she was 16, so she's hunted whitetails with firearms for 30 years, but she's yet to shoot a buck with a rifle. She's taken three does during gun season. Her first deer ever was a doe that she dropped at a distance of more than 100 yards with an iron-sighted .30/30.
The morning of Oct. 7 was not the first time Flanery saw the buck she put her tag on. The deer was feeding on apples from trees in her yard when its antlers were still in velvet. They obtained a trail-camera photo of him in August. Based on examination of that photograph, she thought the whitetail had 12 points.
After the photo was taken in August, Flanery said she saw the buck on two other occasions before hunting season opened. She spends plenty of time monitoring deer activity on the property she and her husband own, so she's familiar with their movement patterns. That knowledge came in handy on the morning of Oct. 7 as she headed for her tree stand.
Flanery's hike toward her stand was interrupted by the sound of antlers -- two sets of antlers from bucks that were sparring.
"I slowly and cautiously worked my way toward the sound to try to get a glimpse of the bucks," Flanery said. "I snuck over to some pines that would provide some cover. After looking around, I finally spotted two deer and one was a big buck.
"I maneuvered for a better look, doing my best not to spook them. I watched them stand there out of bow range at a distance of 250 feet. I was excited about the possibility of getting a shot at one of the bucks, if they would only come my way.
"My excitement turned to disappointment," Flanery continued, "when I saw them turn and start to walk away from me instead of toward me. But I wasn't disappointed for long. Somebody started a vehicle in the direction the bucks were going, which suddenly spooked them back my way.
"I prepared myself for a possible shot and waited for them to appear, and then waited some more. It seemed like it was taking them longer than expected to reappear. I hoped they didn't change directions again.
"Finally, one of the bucks suddenly appeared and walked around the end of a fence 50 feet away. What an adrenaline rush! All I could hear was my heart pounding. I began shaking and couldn't breathe.
"Fortunately, drawing my bow had a calming effect. It forced me to focus on the familiar routine of aiming to make an accurate shot. I aimed for the heart and released. My arrow hit a little high, but I knew I still made a good shot."
The fact that the buck was down within 80 feet confirmed the arrow was well placed. The distance the arrowed whi
tetail traveled after the hit was reduced, no doubt, because it slammed into the fence it walked around moments earlier. The force of the whitetail hitting the fence broke four posts off at ground level.
Flanery said she had feelings of shock and disbelief about what happened after it was over. She shot the buck with a 45-pound pull Hoyt Sport Rebel XT bow that has a 65 percent let-off at full draw. She was shooting aluminum arrows tipped with four-blade, 90-grain Wasp broadheads. Her bow is fitted with one sight pin set for 35 yards. She shoots her bow with bare fingers, not using a glove or tab.
The buck was 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 years old. After shooting the deer, Flanery talked to someone who has trail camera photos of the buck over a three-year period -- 2004 through 2006. But what many people don't realize, is the buck Flanery shot was the smaller of the two she heard sparring.
The one she didn't get is the one she thought was a big buck, although the one she ended up shooting proved to be bigger than she thought it was. The Flanery buck is a mainframe 10-point, with three sticker points more than an inch long on the bases of the antlers.
"The mainframe on the buck my deer was sparring with was at least a 10 like the one I got," Flanery wrote, "but it was much bigger, wider and taller. It was definitely bigger."
It's clear from Flanery's description that the second buck most likely had antlers large enough to qualify for all-time listing in Boone and Crockett Records. Since her whitetail scored in the 180s, it's safe to conclude the other deer would have measured at least in the 190s.
Flanery said the feeling of taking a buck of the caliber she did is like winning the lottery. She also had a hard time believing the antlers were of state-record proportions when CBM's Lonnie Buck measured them.
"A lot of people hunt all their lives and may never get the opportunity I got that morning," Flanery wrote, "but it just goes to show you that you never know when a chance and luck may happen. Hunting is relaxing as well as exciting and a great gift. Just seeing the woods come to life in the morning and anticipating what could come by you are a couple of the reasons I hunt."
She hopes her story motivates other women to try deer hunting.