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Ian Tyler • Gracey , KY

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Randy Hawk
Randy Hawk • 11/18/2009 • Franklin County , Missouri • Rifle

Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

The Last Places on Earth

I’m constantly amazed at how often 200-inch whitetails are taken off tiny scraps of land that most of us overlook. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve run across someone who has found antlered gold on only 10 acres or less.

I know hunters who have tagged monster bucks on a single-acre lot; others who have successfully hunted the thin strips of woods between subdivisions. And it makes me wonder why so many people feel compelled to lease hundreds or thousands of acres, when they could just buy their own farm.

The latest case of a big buck from a small parcel happened last season in Ohio, where this kind of thing occurs often.

If Walt Fanthorp ever decides to quit deer hunting, it won’t be because of the price of gasoline or for the lack of a place to hunt.

Walking is cheap.

Walt’s 10 acres north of Cincinnati is mostly open ground, but there’s a wooded creek bottom at the rear of the tract. He hunts about 150 yards from his back door, which allows him to frequently spend an hour or two in a stand on days he might not otherwise have time to spare.

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First New Mexico Entry Tough to Beat

It’s obvious the late singer-songwriter Jim Croce never bowhunted New Mexico’s high plains. If he had, sneaking up on a deer would’ve rated right up there with tugging on Superman’s cape, spittin’ in the wind and pullin’ the mask off that old Lone Ranger -- things you just DON’T do.

Nobody told Robert Barnwell, however.

The 40-year-old bowhunter also missed the memo pointing out that shooting a whitetail, even a little one, in a state renowned for its elk, mule and diminutive Coues’ deer would be like pulling a 10-pound largemouth out of a birdbath.

That’s not to say whitetails haven’t moved into eastern New Mexico from the Texas Panhandle. It’s why the state sells “any-buck” tags. But because the wide open spaces there are best suited for prairie chickens and pronghorns, odds of that lunker bass are more favorable.

Robert didn’t set out to demoralize the oddsmakers last season. He wasn’t nocked for whitetails, even though he’s smitten with them and has been saving for years to be able to travel to Iowa or some other corner of the Midwest to hunt them. He had no reason to believe he’d do anything beyond sticking his 12th muley, and only if the deer gods were in a generous mood.

Robert hunts public land in Roosevelt County, and I’m talking wide open ground that would keep most whitetail hunters inside their truck cabs, cursing the snake oil salesmen who convinced them to apply for deer tags in New Mexico’s Unit 31. Yet he came out of there last January with a 13-pointer carrying 161 6/8 inches of antler – not counting the generous 22 2/8-inch inside spread, which gives the rack a composite score of 184 inches.

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The 200 Club Gains a New Member

The never-before-seen buck might’ve been shadowing the big doe that reached the food plot moments earlier.

Or it might’ve just been hungry.

Regardless of what lured it into the open at dusk on Jan. 3, the clover was its last meal.

Before Kenneth Bordelon climbed into his favorite ladder stand in Avoyelles Parish that Monday, he’d never shot a buck bigger than a 14-inch-wide 8-pointer. By the time he got down from his perch a couple of hours later, he’d twice hammered not only the biggest whitetail ever seen in that parish, but also the seventh-largest in all of Louisiana (among rifle-taken Irregulars).

So shocked at having even seen such a buck on the hoof, the hunter from Vick, La., doesn’t remember his boots touching a single rung on his way down the ladder. For all he knows, he floated the 300 yards to the 25-pointer lying dead in his food plot.

“I was going to wait about 10 or 15 minutes before going to it, but I couldn’t,” he admitted. Equally impatient were his father and a cousin, who were also hunting that afternoon and heard both shots. They were punching Ken’s number into their cell phones before he even had a chance to count the gnarly rack’s points.

“They wanted to know what I’d shot,” Ken said. “At first, I called it a 12- or 14-pointer … until I finally counted everything that could be considered a point.”

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Deer Train Loses Caboose

Only once have I seen more than three bucks hot on the trail of the same doe, and I mean kissing-each-other’s-hooves close.

I was bowhunting a tract in Mississippi that had been intensely managed for 20 years or more, when eight deer – seven bucks and one completely tuckered doe – filed past my stand.

To have a buck-to-doe ratio like that, you’d think any piece of ground would have to be managed to the hilt. And even then, you’d probably have to throw a high fence around it in order to keep your neighbors’ does off your land and your own immature bucks from leaving.

Daniel “DJ” Elder might be hard to convince. He doesn’t sound like a candidate for a high-fence hunt, and he’s probably not in the market for chain-link.

The hunter from Whitehall, Ohio, was hunting public ground in Perry County last October when a hot doe led a train of 14 bucks across the ridge he and his 13-year-old daughter, Savanna, were watching. The first 13 were beyond his crossbow’s range, but the very last and biggest one felt the bite of a broadhead.

DJ’s buck measures 172 6/8 inches as a Typical. A nearly 19-inch spread gives the rack a composite score of 191 5/8.

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