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Jerry Doran
Jerry Doran • 11/5/2013 • Lackawanna County , Pennsylvania •Bow

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Jill Straughn-Winslow • 12/21/13 • Rifle

Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

On the Road Again

Gene Daniels might be on the road to becoming as superstitious as Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, who ate chicken before every game.

Like Boggs, the Harriman, Tenn., deer hunter believes in lucky charms. And he seems to have found his on the road, or at least standing beside it.

Gene was 16 years old when his Papaw Kelly took him deer hunting for the first time. While driving through Oak Ridge, Tenn., the night before that maiden trip, Gene saw a monstrous buck standing beside the road.

He was still excited when he got to his papaw’s house, and he told him about the whitetail.

“Sounds like you seen a deer of a lifetime,” the old man smiled.

Gene didn’t sleep a lick that night.

The following morning, about half an hour after his papaw left him holding his dad’s .30-30, Gene shot an 8-pointer.

Despite his seamless introduction to deer hunting, another 10 years passed before Gene was able to shoot another good buck.

Once again, he’d driven through Oak Ridge and seen a huge buck standing on the road’s shoulder. He couldn’t hunt until the following day and didn’t have access to the land where he saw the deer, but he shot a nice 9-pointer the next morning.

It took several more seasons for him to shoot another one, and it, too, came on the day following a nighttime spotting of a buck rooted beside the pavement.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Don't Bet Against This Guy

His confidence buoyed by floodwaters pushing deer onto his side of the levee and the discovery of several great sheds in the little 40-acre pasture he hunts, Tom Ross decided to push all his chips to the center of deer hunting’s poker table in 2010.

He’s never walked the 560 yards from his front door to his ladder stand more often than he did last year, starting with the opening of Arkansas’ bow season and ending on the rainy day he almost folded his cards.

“I found 11 sheds in that little field the previous spring,” Tom said. “Several were impressive, but one antler was really outstanding.”

To sweeten the pot, the nearby White and Mississippi rivers flooded that fall, and Tom knew his chances at a decent buck -- maybe even the former wearer of that big shed -- would never be better.

“I hunted hard during bow season, when the floodwaters were at their peak,” he said. “I went 16 days straight and saw plenty of deer, including this buck, but it was too far.”

When the gun season opened, Tom kept hunting from his bow setup, at least whenever the wind allowed. But the big buck he’d seen early never showed.

After a week of hunting every day, Tom was growing tired of the game.

“I’d burnt my entire season waiting on that buck,” he said. “I was ready to sell my guns and quit. I had nothing to show for a whole lot of work.”

[Read the rest of this article...]

The Crying Game

Tommy Suiter had already drawn his bow and was about to pick a spot when what he thought was doe-burger on the hoof lowered her not-so-feminine head.

Had he not been drawn and only seconds away from loosing an arrow, Tommy might’ve blown his chance at what turned out to be a massive buck with tines fit to spoke a wagon wheel. The two were 40 yards apart, and the deer had no clue.

It was a Sunday afternoon with 2 inches of snow on the ground. Tommy and his wife had been shopping, and there were a couple of hours of daylight remaining when they returned home.

Eager to watch the sunset from a tree, he quickly showered and headed out the back door with his bow, climber strapped to his back.

“As I neared the crest of the hill behind the house, I slowed down and peered over at the nearest tree line,” he said. “There stood a very large deer right at the edge with its head up in some honeysuckle. I thought it was a doe and figured ‘Why not?’ It was close to the house, standing broadside and only 40 yards away from me.

“I couldn’t believe it when the deer dropped its head, revealing a massive rack,” he added. “I quickly took my eyes off the antlers, lined up my pin and released the arrow.”

[Read the rest of this article...]

Mississippi Gains a New Smokepole Record

Jonathan Dennis learned two things in December: that "failing to take a state record to a taxidermist" might be a crime in Grenada County, Miss., and that a shoulder mount ain't cheap.

While Jonathan knew the buck he smoked last year was bigger than any he'd taken previously, he had no idea of its true stature until a neighbor, who happens to be a sheriff's deputy, saw it.

"When I showed it to Jeffrey, I thought he was going to fall down," Jonathan laughed. "He actually got in my truck with me and MADE me take the deer to a taxidermist.

"I've never been a fan of scoring or taxidermy, even though I always save my racks," he added. "I have a storage box full of them. I've killed at least a dozen 150-class deer, but I've never had any mounted."

But seriously, he doesn't mind paying for what he calls a big dose of luck.

Jonathan usually hunts out of treestands. But faced with no climbable trees in a place he so dearly wanted to hunt -- beside a trail used that very morning by a buck he was certain was responsible for some extraordinary rubs -- he had no qualms getting down on his belly like a reptile.

When he discovered the network of rubs and where several trails converged nearby, he found the perfect tree for his climber. But when he scaled and hunted from it, he saw only small bucks and a few does, day after day.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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