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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

Dorothy, He Ain't

Deer hunters with unfilled tags and two days left to fill them aren't especially eager to see the great state of Kansas in their rearview mirrors. But when Jay Hickey realized southwest Arkansas was about to be hit by a rare southerly breeze, he couldn't click his heels and head home fast enough.

Not even the allure of a beefy and heavy antlered Kansas buck could keep his mind off a whitetail roaming his own ground, a deer so unique and big that he'd sworn the few people who knew about it to secrecy. He'd devoted 27 outings to that whitetail, and he thought a south wind might just be his ticket to the dance.

Jay's first glimpse of the extraordinary buck was via trail-camera photograph in November 2010. He hunted it diligently, but he never saw the mostly nocturnal animal on the hoof.

He continued his quest with both bow and muzzleloader in 2011, right up until the day he left to hunt the rut with an outfitter friend in Kansas.

The long drive home early that morning had given Jay heavy eyelids, but they snapped open when a doe exited the thicket he was watching, mainly because a much bigger deer was about 20 yards behind her.

It took some bleating to lure the doe close and a loud "MAAAHHH" to stop the buck before the brambles swallowed it, but Jay finally saw the Holy Grail in his crosshairs on the 28th day.

He, his brother Jimmy and a dear friend, Dr. Brian Bowen, recovered it the following morning.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Night of the Living Dead

Chris Miraglia looked like one of George Romero's zombies when he staggered into his suburban Ohio home on Oct. 24, 2011. Had it not been for the goofy grin underneath his bloody and creviced brow, his wife might've screamed.

She almost did anyway.

"I got him! I stuck him good!" he mumbled, which, to her, sounded more like "I want to eat your brains!"

And then it registered: Chris had used "him" and "stuck" in the same sentence, which could mean only that he'd put an arrow through Big Boy, a buck with which her husband had become infatuated. But had he field-dressed it with his teeth?

"After I shot Big Boy and saw him lay down, I was hyperventilating," Chris explained. "I was so intent on keeping my eyes on him, I missed the last three steps on the ladder, went down and hit a tree face-first.

"I split my forehead wide open and was bleeding pretty profusely," he added. "I was too excited to even care."

Because Chris had literally been hunting in his back yard outside Canton, the last thing he wanted to do was push the buck out of the small copse of woods and onto a neighbor's lawn. So he slept fitfully and didn't return until the following morning.

The deer hadn't moved.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Mikey Will be Missed

Michaella Monroe, the Kentucky teenager who shot the giant 24-pointer that was featured in the July issue of Rack magazine, was killed in an automobile accident last month. She was riding with two classmates when their truck overturned on Mike Brown Road. Shelby Bockting, 17, also died at the scene. The third girl, 16-year-old Jenna Rigsby, was airlifted, hospitalized and released. Michaella, known as "Mikey," was still in diapers when her father, Paul, began carrying her deer hunting with him. She shot her first deer, an 8-pointer, when she was 5. "Daddy held the gun, but I aimed it and pulled the trigger," she told Lisa Price, who wrote the story for Rack. "The scope hit me in the nose, but I didn't care. I just wanted to go find the deer." She was also hunting with her father in 2009, when she shot the largest buck taken in Kentucky that year. It was Oct. 11, the second day of the state's youth season. They'd glimpsed the buck the previous day, while retrieving a deer shot by her little brother Cody. About 15 minutes before dark, the buck with the familiar rack sauntered out of the woods. She missed on her first shot, but connected with the second. She also shot a doe while they were waiting to track the buck. After not finding any sign of a hit that night, Mikey, her dad and grandfather, Danny Aldridge, resumed looking and found the deer the following morning.  "When I got up to it, I just fell to my knees in the water," Mikey said. "That's when I saw my grandfather standing above me on the bank."

[Read the rest of this article...]

Lethal, But Not Legal

In this David-and-Goliath story, nobody wins because the slingshot was too small.

Most states with rifle seasons for deer spell out which calibers are acceptable by imposing a minimum. The same goes for other game animals like waterfowl and turkeys, though it's shot size vs. bullet caliber.

In Louisiana, the smallest rifle ammo sanctioned for deer is a centerfire cartridge in the .22 family. This does not include the rimfires used for plinking and toppling squirrels.

Billy W. Jordan, 54, of Winnsboro, La., learned that lesson the hard way last month when officers from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries knocked on his door. Jordan allegedly admitted he used a rifle chambered for the .204 Ruger to take a giant whitetail on Dec. 28 that set tongues wagging well beyond Catahoula Parish, where he shot it, and his hometown in Franklin Parish.

The fine for such a violation ranges from $100 to $350 and up to 60 days in jail. Also, any animal harvested by illegal means usually becomes the property of the state.

Jordan's troubles might have ended there had he not entered the nearly 25-inch-wide 15-pointer in four big buck contests. That he claimed to have shot the deer legally, even if he thought he had, is also considered "contest fraud," which also carries a fine of up to $3,000 and up to a year in jail per count. Plus, he will be assessed civil restitution of $2,033 for the value of the deer, according to the LDWF.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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