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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

Entries for November 2011

Little Pain, Lots of Gain

Trudging a mile and breaking a sweat to reach a remote river bend is a small price to pay for smoking a centerfold buck.

Kelly Doyl, a 51-year-old printing press operator from Walker, Iowa, knows the value of sweat equity and expending boot leather.

On Oct. 18, 2010, he and his brother, Bryan, hiked to a distant ridge overlooking a small river and hung stands about 300 yards apart. They saw the sunrise from those positions the next morning, the coldest day they’d had to that point in Buchanan County.

Shortly after daybreak, a forkhorn crossed the ridge near Kelly’s stand. After it disappeared, he rattled lightly with a 130ish set of antlers he’d sawed off roadkill. Twenty minutes later, he tried again -- a bit more aggressively -- and immediately heard something coming.

He couldn’t see the buck, at first, because of the leaves still on the trees. When he finally glimpsed it, head-on, he wasn’t too impressed. The rack was only about 16 inches wide. But when the buck turned its head to the left and Kelly saw the right side, he changed his mind in a hurry.

Thanks to eight long tines -- the smallest being one tick under 9 inches -- the Doyl Buck is a magnificent mainframe 5x5 that grosses nearly 200 inches by its lonesome. The 17 irregular points contribute another 54 inches to the final tally. Its BTR composite score is 248 6/8.

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Hasn't Been Topped in 46 Years

The latest golden oldie to come to my attention (thanks to fellow antler-holic Greg Hicks) is hanging in Louisiana. It's actually one of several Greg unearthed while asking the right questions in Union Parish, but this one is a state record.

It took only 46 years for John Preaus' whitetail to be recognized as such.

Bill Breed knew long before that. There was no way his friend John's buck was a 150-incher.

No way.

When initially measured under Boone and Crockett guidelines, the picket-fence rack grossed 177. Twenty-seven inches of deductions knocked it down to 150, far below the B&C record book's minimum.

Not making the grade wasn't a big deal to John, though shooting it was. Numbers on a scoresheet didn't make his first deer any less impressive.

But Bill never stopped nagging him until, finally, John let him take the old mount to a Quality Deer Management Association seminar in West Monroe in May 2011.

"Bill called and said, 'John, your deer just grossed more than 200 inches as a Typical.' I really couldn't believe it," John said. "The first guy who scored it must've made a wrong calculation, which is why I never bothered pursuing an official score.

"Bill has been telling me for years that there's no way that deer doesn't score better than 150," John added.Of course, numbers beyond point count and weight meant very little to rank-and-file deer hunters back in 1965, the year John shot the buck. He was 16 at the time, and he'd never even seen one until that day (Nov. 27).

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Record-holder Faces Multiple Poaching Charges

The man who arrowed the runner-up to the Pope and Young Club’s Illinois state record in 2009 is now facing multiple misdemeanor charges of violating the state’s wildlife code, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Christopher Kiernan, 45, of Minooka, Ill., is among three individuals charged in the wake of an 11-month-long joint investigation by the Illinois DNR, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Alberta Sustainable Resources Department, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Conservation, and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks agency.

The three cases involve the taking of 24 deer in Illinois and Canada over a 10-year period.

Kiernan made headlines in 2009 after arrowing an enormous, wide-racked whitetail that later netted 261 5/8 inches when scored by a panel of measurers.

The buck has never been taped for the BTR.

He’s now facing 11 counts of hunting without landowner’s permission and being an accessory to the charge; 19 counts of unlawful possession of illegally taken deer; five counts of hunting with invalidated permits; five counts of unlawfully taking of deer; two counts of falsifying harvest records; and single counts of failing to report a harvest on the same day as killed and of failing to tag a deer as required.

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You Will Know It When You See It

Last month, after describing my morning and showing my hunting buddies the sketches I’d done of the several Oklahoma bucks I’d seen (complete with nicknames), one friend asked why I hadn’t put an arrow through Diamond, a 3-year-old 5x5 whose rack might’ve hit the 135-inch mark.

He asked because he knows I’m not one to let a record-book buck keep on trucking, as a rule.

I thought about it for a couple of beats, and then I told them: “You know, I looked at that rascal inside 30 yards for more than 15 minutes, trying to decide if I wanted to take the chip shot. Then it occurred to me that if I had to study a deer for that long, it wasn’t a shooter. Whenever a real shooter walks up, you don’t have to think.”

That’s what happened to Mike Thompson of Rayville, La., last December. The minute he saw the 13-pointer charge onto the pipeline field and buzz every doe in sight, he didn’t have to think; he wanted it. But not so badly as to take an iffy shot at the deer on the fly.

He hadn’t been sitting in his 20-foot-tall box stand for long on Dec. 14, when 15 does -- a group of five and another of 10 -- filed or ran into the field. The buck was chasing the late arrivals. It never slowed, and it didn’t stay out there long, which meant there was no counting points, but Mike wanted it like a dying man wants religion.

The thing had brow tines that would make Dick Idol weep.

“I didn’t want to miss or wound a buck of that caliber and have it leave the area,” he said, “so I held fire and just watched it run off. That was a hard moment.”

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