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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

Chapter 2011

I've heard far more hokey than cool nicknames bestowed upon whitetails. I've even seen fellow bloggers altogether denounce the practice, which has grown more popular because every Tom, Dick and Harriet among TV show hosts thinks viewers love it.

But this is a debate for another time.

Meanwhile, I'll judge them as I hear them. And my hands-down favorite came across my desk this year, referencing a humongous Kansas buck taken by Lucas Cochren in Jackson County. The name is Bankrupt, and Mrs. Cochren, the hunter's wife, gets the gold star.

Her reasoning is that her beloved and his three buddies had collected thousands of trail camera photographs of this buck for three years. Prior to 2011, when Lucas finally decided the deer was big enough, Bankrupt always managed to bust up his rack while fighting.

"He was always broke," she explains.

Is that a perfect name, or what?

Last season, Bankrupt either lost the urge to fight, or other bucks simply gave him a wide berth. After all, squaring off against this 5-year-old would've been akin to bringing a chopstick to a sword fight.

Lucas hunts his family's 1,000-acre farm and an adjoining spread. He and his pals don't consider a buck fair game unless it's 5 years old. At age 3, Bankrupt wore an estimated 180 inches of antler; even more in 2010. But his fifth and final rack was substantially bigger.

He missed a 320-yard poke at the drop-tined Bankrupt on the first Friday of rifle season. A week later, he saw the buck feeding out in a cornfield and didn't.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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