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Harley Young
Harley Young • 11/27/2012 • Holmes County, OH • Gun

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Brandon Blankenship • 11/21/2013 • Franklin County, VA • Rifle

Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

13
What a Difference a Year Makes!

Had the curtain not been about to fall on Kentucky's 2011 deer season, Hebron bowhunter Jim Hill might've taken the 30-yard poke at the 150-inch 10-pointer he'd nicknamed the Grapevine Ten. He chose not to, to let the buck live at least one more year, because he thought enough of his neighbors had tagged out so that it could.

That wasn't the case a couple of weeks earlier, when the whitetail's antlers became entangled in some vines just 25 yards from his treestand. The scene was almost biblical.

If the animal had remained still long enough, Jim's bowstring would've hummed. But it managed to free itself and leave forthwith, before Jim could say "Jack Robinson."

"After that, I nicknamed him the Grapevine Ten," Jim said. "In addition to the nice rack, he had a calcium deposit on a front leg that made him easily recognizable."

That summer, Jim planted a clover plot near the buck's stomping grounds, and he retrieved his first trail camera photograph of it in June. With two more months to grow, its rack was already as big as it had been in 2011.

By late August, the deer was passing in front of the camera four times a day before it changed food sources and disappeared.

Jim hunted the field edges throughout September and most of October, but he didn't see the Grapevine Ten until Oct. 28, when he moved deeper into the property.

[Read the rest of this article...]

06
Hello, Stranger

When the 13-pointer stopped mugging for Ashley Bugg's trail camera in January 2012, the hunter from Corydon, Ky., assumed the deer he'd been watching for two seasons was pushing up daisies.

"In the last photograph I had of the buck, it looked to be in bad shape," Ashley said. "Its gut was all sunk in. I still kept checking the camera and hoping, but that was it."

Writing off the whitetail as being dead, however, proved to be 11 months premature.

With no more than half an hour of daylight remaining on Nov. 16, a doe passed through the area Ashley was watching. A buck strolled onstage 10 minutes later.

A glimpse of the rack's left side was all Ashley needed in the way of incentive. He picked up his rifle, aimed and squeezed the trigger, knowing only that the whitetail was much bigger than the 9-pointer he'd been hoping to see from a stand.

There was no bang, however. Not even a click, unless the pop of a jaw falling open counts.

Ashley had forgotten to disengage his gun's safety.

He managed to regroup and take a shot nonetheless, even though he was a bit rattled and the deer was farther along in its quest for a girlfriend.

After a night spent wondering if he'd blown his chance, Ashley recovered the buck the next day. And he was doubly thrilled as he approached the fallen giant.

[Read the rest of this article...]

29
Has THE Pike County Come Full Circle?

Back in 2001, the year I first went to Pike County, Ill., and shot my first buck and doe with a bow (I was a late bloomer in archery), the area was 20 years beyond its peak.

I still remember the 1980s, when newspapers all over the country published stories about the monstrous whitetails being harvested in Pike County. The glowing reports made it seem as if giant deer were to be found behind every sparse bush.

In no time at all, every inch of ground - with or without bushes - was snatched up by outfitters eager to capitalize off the big deer and free publicity.

Unless they had land to lease, the locals hated it. Still do, I suspect.

Giant deer aren't as numerous as they were during west-central Illinois' heyday. But the food is still there. Ditto for the genetics. And the land certainly hasn't disappeared, though it might have changed hands a few dozen times.

It's extremely rare for hunters to tag world-class bucks while hunting with an outfitter. Deer simply won't tolerate the extra pressure.

If there is an exception, however, it's to be found in Pike County. When the corn is harvested, whitetails concentrate in the only cover left to them.

[Read the rest of this article...]

22
The Newest World Record in the BTR

Bill Testerman of Belton, Mo., is more accustomed to buying condiments than paying for taxidermy. Prior to last season, he regarded most deer as roasts on four legs.

Now that his name has gone into the record book alongside the newest BTR world record, however, antlers carry a bit more cachet.

Oh, racks have and will always make any hunter giddy. It's why people who pore over trail camera photographs will fast-forward through National Geographic-quality doe pictures to stare for hours at a grainy, barely decipherable image of a 2 1/2-year-old 8-pointer.

Before Bill put an arrow through this giant 13-pointer last year, he devoted a lot of eye time to a buck photographed by a trail cam. It was a bad picture, from a bad angle, and there was no way to count points.

But he got a better look when he jumped the animal in some CRP about two weeks before bow season opened. Bill was impressed, but he says he didn't dwell on the animal. He was more interested in his annual hunt with a friend.

"Oct. 21 was warm, and I really didn't expect to see anything. Everything was wrong, except for the wind direction," Bill told Jill Easton, who's penning his story for RACK magazine.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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