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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

Sometimes We Make Our Own Luck

Calling J.T. Kreager lucky within earshot of anyone who knows him would be like waking to discover you’ve inadvertently Tweeted photographs of your underwear to Oprah. You’re going to be left red-faced.

Yes, the Ohio bowhunter was in the right place at the right time to put an arrow through a world-class whitetail last season. The hunt was short and sweet, ending his season just two days out of the chute -- the first of which was spent beside his 11-year-old daughter as she drilled a deer for the second time in her life.

But the guy didn’t spin a bottle or roll a dice. He didn’t walk to the nearest stand in street clothes with a banged-up bow after frying bacon or pumping gas. The deer’s face wasn’t in a bucket of apples, and there was nobody driving deer toward him.

J.T. knew which of many stands on many farms offered the best chance at a giant during the unseasonable (and much hoped for) northeasterly wind. It happened to be one he’d hung at his most recent acquisition, which had yielded many trail cam photographs of the wide-racked buck he most wanted.

Co-owner of a small manufacturing company in Delaware, Ohio, and the man behind three hunting-oriented websites, J.T. has plenty of time to pursue whitetails in the fall, and he’s almost fanatical about it. His obsession with scent control -- wind, showers, sprays and Scent Lok -- borders on OCD, and he amasses hunting rights by knocking on more doors than a candidate for city council.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Mainframe 7x7 Indeed a Nebraska Record

I first mentioned Kevin Petrzilka’s 2010 buck in my blog three days after it hit the dirt in Saunders County, Neb. E-mails containing photographs of it were filling more inboxes than pleas from former Nigerian first ladies needing help to move large sums of money across the Atlantic.

Based on an unofficial net score of more than 203 inches, speculation was that the whitetail would be a new state-record Typical by the B&C yardstick.

I can’t speak for B&C, but I can say it’s a state record with us. The former No. 1, taken back in 1999, was 26 inches smaller.

This rascal’s official BTR score, which doesn’t include the 21 1/8-inch inside spread, is an eye-popping 206 5/8. That makes it No. 1 for Nebraska, No. 6 in the world, and one of only 13 typical-racked whitetails in our record book that surpass the 200-inch mark. Its composite score (actual true gross) is an unbelievable 227 6/8 inches!

Another interesting and unusual factoid about the Petrzilka Buck: Its official BTR score is higher than its B&C net score, which suffered nearly 25 inches of deductions because of side-to-side differences and three non-typical points.

Here’s the short version of the hunt...

Kevin wasn’t the first member of his family to sling lead at the incredible 17-pointer on Nov. 19, a week into Nebraska’s nine-day rifle season. His son, Mason, missed what should’ve been a 250-yard chip shot for a flat-shooting .22-250.

When the teenager’s rifle jammed and prevented a followup, he noted where the deer disappeared and called for reinforcements. His dad and older brother, Dillon, postponed the rounding up of a bull that had walked through or over a downed electric fence to join in an impromptu man-drive.

[Read the rest of this article...]

The Deer Hole

It was as if the ground opened up and swallowed Kevin Fitch’s buck. One minute, it was on the receiving end of a shotgun slug (he hoped). The next, it was gone.

Not fall-down-dead gone. Not running-with-the-wind-and-leaving-a-blood-trail gone.

Just gone, leaving the hunter from Norwalk, Ohio, with Rodney Dangerfield eyes and a mouth full of bile.

Seconds earlier, Kevin had finally seen antlers atop one of the 20 or so deer zigzagging in the brush ahead of him. He didn’t have much of a window, but he thought the shot was doable.

“I was scanning heads, and, suddenly, I saw antlers. When they passed through an opening, followed by the head and neck of their wearer -- other than that, all I could see was the top of its back -- I slipped off the safety and squeezed the trigger,” he said. “After the shot, the buck simply vanished. It didn’t run off, and I didn’t actually see it fall.

“It just disappeared,” he added.

Turns out, the buck slipped into a big ice-filled hole left when a tree was toppled. Getting it out of there involved a second shot and a bit of wrestling (literally a head-lock), but Kevin managed with a little help.

He had no idea he was shooting at a 23-pointer with antlers that would rival the fallen tree’s root wad. It was Dec. 18, a last chance for Kevin and his son, Cody, to punch their tags by slugging a deer. Cody also shot a doe while his dad was playing in the root pond.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Cover Girl

Sixteen-year-old Hanna Harris of Danville, Pa., would’ve been positively gleeful if she’d shot the 6-pointer that passed by her deer stand around 7:00 on the morning of Pennsylvania’s 2010 rifle opener.

The young buck was hers for the taking, too, but she watched it and a couple of other deer melt back into the trees without firing a shot. So wracked with buck fever, her jumpy synapses were arcing like downed power lines, and her trigger finger just didn’t get the juice.

That was Hanna’s first time to hunt unaccompanied. She was in her mother’s elevated stand on the family’s 280 acres, alone, though many other Harrises and some friends were loaded for deer elsewhere on the farm.

While trying to understand how or why she’d frozen, she saw more deer coming: two does and, farther out, a buck.

Determined not to make the same mistake twice, Hanna wasted no time in planting a knee against the stand’s rail so she would be steadier if she got a chance to shoot.

“When this buck stopped behind a double tree, I could see its rack on both sides of the trunks. I knew it was big,” she said.

When it stepped fully into view and stopped, she squeezed the trigger. Not long afterward, her father and brother arrived to track the deer, which took all of 10 minutes.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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