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Mark Braga
Mark Braga • 12/2011 • Massachusetts • Shotgun

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Tyler Matula • 11/06/2012 • Douglas County, WI • Bow

Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

09
Illinois Teen a Straight Shooter

It fell to a veterinarian's scalpel to decide whether an Illinois 15-year-old could keep the deer he shot on Nov. 18, opening morning of the state's (initial) firearms season.

Because three telephone callers claimed he'd shot the enormous buck with a rifle, which is illegal in Illinois, Josh Riggs, a straight-A student and football player at La Salle-Peru Township High School, was forced to prove his innocence.

The allegations were taken seriously until Josh agreed to take the whitetail to an Ottawa, Ill., veterinary clinic for X-raying.

The teenager told authorities he shot the buck three times with his 12-gauge shotgun. But the X-ray showed more than three foreign objects. One was an expandable broadhead buried in the deer's shoulder. The rest were indeed fragments of three shotgun slugs, Josh said.

The finding lifted the kid back onto Cloud Nine.

"That was a three-hour ordeal," Josh said. "I wasn't happy about it at the time, but now I couldn't be happier."

Josh was hunting from a 17-foot-high double ladder stand on his father's 80 acres in La Salle County. He'd lost track of a 10-pointer that had followed a couple of does across a power line when he happened to look in the opposite direction and into the glare of this magnificent buck standing only 20 yards away.

[Read the rest of this article...]

02
One of Mississippi's Finest from 2011

Ray Vaughan didn't really want to close his eyes on the night of Nov. 22, which would've meant not staring at the severed head inside his 27-foot-long home away from home.

He wanted to ogle it, to see the vacant eyes, the faint blood spatter, and especially the enormous antlers. He'd shot the buck that evening, and it took all the willpower the grandfather of 12 possessed not to drive immediately and hand it over to a taxidermist.

Ray settled for waiting until the following morning to do that, but only because he could keep the head and cape behind the camper's locked door, away from the jaws of dogs and varmints and the hands of thieving passers-by.

"I didn't want to lose track of the thing, so I spent the night with it," he laughed. "I didn't sleep with him, but we got real close."

Ray is one of a dozen guys who share a 1,500-acre lease in Clarke County, Miss., about 13 miles west of Butler, Ala. 

On Nov. 22, a Monday, Ray went to a redheaded step-child of a food plot the other members had ignored. The grass patch was as thin as new whiskers because of the summertime drought, but there was enough to attract deer.

[Read the rest of this article...]

26
Kansan Accused of Poaching Heading to Court

Kansas newspapers are reporting that the man facing eight charges in connection with the alleged poaching of a potential state-record whitetail will have his day in Osage County District Court on March 29.

David V. Kent of Topeka was charged Feb. 1 with criminal discharge of a firearm, criminal hunting, hunting with an artificial light, hunting outside legal hours, hunting during a closed season, using an illegal caliber, hunting from a vehicle and without a valid deer permit. His trial was originally scheduled for March 1, but the judge granted a continuance.

Kent brought a 14-point rack to Topeka's inaugural Monster Buck Classic in late January to enter it in the show's big buck contest. He said he shot the deer with a rifle on Dec. 2 in Nemaha County.

Measurers with both Boone and Crockett and Buckmasters' Wayne Cox scored the rack, which was poised to be crowned the show's typical "king." By the B&C yardstick, the antlers' green score exceeded the current state-record Typical's score of 198 2/8 inches by 5/8 inch. The official BTR tally is 191 5/8 (with a composite score of 206 4/8), high enough not only to make it a state record, but also runner-up to the world record in our perfect/rifle category.

Authorities became suspicious when another man produced a trail camera photograph of the distinctive buck via his cell phone. The photo was taken in Osage County, about 80 miles from Nemaha. The headless carcass of a large buck had also been found near the property where the image was triggered.

Prior to his arrest, when asked by a BTR measurer if he'd taken the deer by illegal means, a jittery Kent said no. But he allegedly confessed when cornered by officers with the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife and Parks, who had already seized the antlers.

The KDWP contends the animal was poached in Osage County on the night of Nov. 11.

The poaching charges connected to this buck were enough to set tongues wagging throughout Kansas. And it wasn't long before newspaper reporters connected that dot to another, far more notorious case from 2007 to which Kent was tied.

[Read the rest of this article...]

19
New World Record from Avoyelles Parish

The last time Mark Huval thought enough of a buck to put an arrow through it, Louisiana folk were still reeling from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. There was a different president, a different pope, and gasoline cost $2.10 a gallon. Six years is a long time to wait for the right buck, especially if you're a bowhunter, and even more so if you're packing a 58-pound-draw recurve. The deer that finally won Mark's heart last season was probably born in 2005, the year he arrowed his last buck. He knew the animal well, too. He'd even waved goodbye to it the previous season, when it was a clean 5x5 with 40 or so less inches of antler. Mark is one of five people who hunt 1,200 acres adjacent to the 17,500-acre Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge, which is shaped like a rubber ducky. He's made the 92-mile drive from Lafayette to Avoyelles Parish since 1991. He began his love affair with his Black Widow recurve four years before that. On the cold and rainy day after Christmas, a Monday, Mark donned his rain slicker, loaded his gear into a small boat and used a trolling motor to reach a homemade wooden ground blind only 300 yards from the refuge's border. The buck with a familiar face passed within SIX yards about 7:30.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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