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Ed Hayden
Ed Hayden • 11/16/2013 • Michigan • Muzzleloader

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Branden Eaton • 11/3/2013 • Laporte County , Indiana • Bow

Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

11
The Biggest Thing in the World

A wide-eyed Shane Ragon clapped a hand to his open mouth like he was trying to swallow a cuss word in the presence of a preacher.

The 40-year-old bowhunter from Calhoun City, Miss., didn't know whether to laugh or cry, to shout hallelujah or utter something less suitable for a tent revival. What he did know was that every time he tried to walk away from the buck lying dead in the sweet potato field, he turned right around and went back to it.

"I just couldn't leave that deer," Shane said. "I'd let go of those antlers and walk off, but then I'd go back. I did that at least three times.

"My hand was shaking so badly, the flashlight's beam was dancing around like a strobe light," he added.

Shane knew that the buck behind his bow sight's pin was bigger than any other he'd shot, but he hadn't exactly paid that much attention to the rack. He was too busy trying to hide behind a power pole and praying the animal would come within range.

It did, too, and became the year's first 200-incher from Mississippi (and, surprisingly, NOT from the Delta). His 9-year-old son, Zane, calls it "the biggest thing in the world."

The full story of Shane's Oct. 6 impromptu bowhunt will appear in Rack magazine next summer, and it's a good one.

[Read the rest of this article...]

04
How Should I Begin?

Finding the best among numerous introductions for a big deer story can be difficult. Such is a writer's life.

Option No. 1: It's not supposed to be a good year for deer, or at least that's what front-porch philosophers are saying. Too little water, not enough food, and blue tongue (epizootic hemorrhagic disease) have wreaked havoc with deer populations in much of the country.

You can write this one off, they say.

But the news never reached Browder, Ky., where Thad Cartwright and his dad, Todd, live and hunt.

Option No. 2: Had Thad Cartwright swatted a mosquito with a little more malice, a little more oomph, on Sept. 3, his would not be the buck on the cover of the July 2013 issue of Rack magazine. Nor would that fabulous whitetail be the leading contender for Buckmasters' next Golden Laurel Citation.

Option No. 3: While bowhunters in most states were still shooting field points, tweaking their bow setups and trying to decide whether or not to replace or upgrade their gear, Thad Cartwright was in a tree, hoping to let the air out of buck with a familiar face.

The do it early in Kentucky, good Lord willing.

And He was.

Option No. 4: The Muhlenberg County buck that Thad Cartwright arrowed three days into Kentucky's 2012 season is a world record among bow-taken deer in velvet. It might not be the biggest velvet buck ever recorded, but it's the largest ever toppled by an arrow.

The 273 2/8-inch 50-pointer plays second fiddle only to fellow Kentuckian Troy Wilson's gargantuan whitetail from 2001, which tallies 303 4/8 inches -- the world-record blackpowder (velvet) buck in the BTR.

In the end, we chose to let Thad tell his own story, in his own words. He shares how he and his dad obtained hundreds of trail cam photos of the buck they nicknamed Bulletproof, how he shot over the giant whitetail in 2011, and how he didn't in 2012.

[Read the rest of this article...]

28
Black Thursday

The yard was like a parking lot, the farmer's shop a veritable Wal-Mart on Black Friday. But it was the first Thursday in December, and the crowd wasn't there to find a deal on a flatscreen TV or the must-have toy du jour.

They came to see Colton Lowry's buck, a deer that had set tongues wagging long before Colton came home from college for the short Kansas rifle season.

Someone had videotaped the double drop-tined buck when it was very much alive. Trail cameras all over that corner of Norton County had captured its image. And several folks had actually seen the deer that even experts might've claimed had been Photoshopped because the rack seemed impossibly wide.

"Seems everyone with a computer in the county had received e-mails with either jpegs or video clips attached. Thus, news of the giant whitetail's demise was a big deal, and it spread like wildfire," says Travis Hogan, the man who scored the rack for the BTR and whose story will soon appear in Rack magazine.

Colton's grandfather owns one of the three tracts where the buck was regularly seen, and that's where Colton and a college buddy were hunting when the season opened Dec. 1.

Toward the end of the very cold day, the two guys and Colton's brother staged a man-drive that pushed the buck out of hiding and into Colton's lap.

"I couldn't tell if it was THE buck or not, at first, because of all the trees," he said. "But then it stopped suddenly; probably scented me. That's when I saw the drop tines and knew.

"When he resumed walking, I shot," he added.

[Read the rest of this article...]

21
DEET-in-Estrus?

Is any buck worth a pint of blood, especially if it's extracted by mosquitoes?

Twelve-year-old Thomas Artall of Opelousas, La., doesn't think so. When the kid accompanied his dad, brother and uncle last January for their final hunt of the 2011-12 season, he doused himself liberally with insect repellent.

It might've been the dead of winter, but that can sometimes mean temperatures in the upper 60s or even 70s in St. Landry Parish.

"Sunday, the last day of gun season, was supposed to be hot and humid," the boy said. "When Dad got up, we gathered our gear and headed out for some family land we've hunted for many years."

Accompanying Thomas and his dad, Patrick, were his older brother, Nickolas, and their Uncle Jeffrey. Thomas' stand, an 8-foot-high homemade one, was the closest to the field where they parked.

"My dad waited until I was inside, and then he handed me my .30-06," Thomas said. "I had a pretty good view of a nearby field, the edge of the woods and the trail."

Patrick's stand was about 500 yards distant.

"Just as it was breaking daylight around 7:00, I heard something walking in the woods right in front of me, but I couldn't see it, at first. Eventually, I made out the back end of a deer.

"I couldn't really see over the shooting rail without standing up, and I didn't want to scare it off, so I bent down and looked under the rail ... and saw a rack," he added.

When Thomas first trained his scope on the buck a mere 20 yards away, he couldn't see it. He had to crank it down with his left hand.

"When I found the deer in the crosshairs, I turned (the scope) back up and shot," he said.

Patrick arrived an hour later, and Thomas gestured him over to where he'd last seen the buck.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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