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Steven Koebel
Steven Koebel • 2012 • Gallipolis , Ohio • Crossbow

Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

Entries for December 2012

What's a Buck Like You Doing in a Place Like This?

I guess you have to be from or have hunted the bowels of Dixie to envision Kenny Redd's setup and appreciate the significance of the deer he shot last year in Jasper County, Miss.

Since the 1970s, the South has been largely responsible for the toilet paper found in American bathrooms and for the utility poles ferrying electricty, television and Internet to homes. Once the hardwood forests were gone and the bottom fell out of the cotton and soybean markets, many Southern landowners turned to farming pine trees.

The big ones become poles. Others are pulp.

Piney woods don't grow really big deer, as a rule. But clear-cutting and thinning create both edge habitat, which whitetails love, and a veritable all-they-can-eat salad bar before the canopy closes and the lack of sunlight smothers everything beneath.

Kenny's buck is proof, however, that one should never say never.

Since 1997, his favorite stand has been one overlooking a cutover. A cutover is generally a piece of ground at some stage between outright clear-cut and a young pine plantation. In his case, now, it's young pines.

One morning last January, Kenny was watching those pines from atop his tripod when he glimpsed a deer with a large rack that other club members had nicknamed Twin Towers because of its height. When the massive buck crossed a shooting lane at 65 yards, he shot it.

"When I ventured into the pine plantation and found this gorgeous buck, I was shocked," he said. "But it wasn't the I-had-no-idea-he-was-THIS-big kind of shock."

[Read the rest of this article...]

How to Shush a Grumbling Stomach

Not saying anything was the hard part.

Greg Murray looked from the buck to his 12-year-old son, Gunnar, and then back to the deer. This season is only the boy’s third, so Greg wanted to reassure him, to calm him, or maybe to talk him through squeezing the trigger. At the very least, he wanted to point out that there were two bucks, and the one bringing up the rear was the one Gunnar had been hoping to shoot ever since he saw it on a trail cam photo.

But after handing over the rifle, Greg remained tight-lipped, as if speaking would be the equivalent of an ill-timed cough on a golf course green.

“I felt like I should’ve said something,” Greg smiled. “I was wondering the whole time, ‘Should I be talking to him? Coaching him?’ But I kept my mouth shut because the deer were less than 50 yards from us and staring in our direction.”

Greg’s eyes were on the bigger buck when the crack of the .243 sent both animals fleeing. He saw what his son didn’t: the reaction of a fatally hit deer.

“YOU GOT HIM! YOU GOT HIM!” he almost shouted, reigning the volume as best he could.

Father and son were sharing a camo-shrouded ladder stand about half a mile from their home south of Topeka, Kan., on Sept. 9. The youth and disabled season ran from the 8th through Sept. 16.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Testament for Still-hunting

Had the state of Illinois not changed the rules for 2011's October youth hunt, allowing kids to shoot bucks (not just does), Chapin, Ill., taxidermist Jason Donovan might've earned one less truck payment.

Nobody was happier to hear the news than 12-year-old Dalton Phillips.

Not that Dalton was new to hunting, not because he minded being on doe patrol, and not because he'd never shot a buck. He began accompanying his dad, Travis, when he was 7. Going into the 2011 season, he'd already shot a 6-pointer, 8-pointer and a couple of does with is shotgun.

Just knowing that bucks were fair game was enough to put a spring in his step when he and his dad headed to a farm in McDonough County on Saturday, Oct. 9.

"We sat for a long time (on the ground), but saw nothing," Dalton said. "So we got up and started walking through an oak bottom, just easing along, working our way down a big hill.

"When we saw this deer, it was eating grass and berries. It didn't know we were there," he continued. "I got down on one knee and put my elbow on the other one.

"I had to shoot really quickly," he said.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Venison with a Side of Crow

When Danny Culpepper sent his son, Fletcher, a text message on Oct. 22, asking if he could carry some material in to camouflage his ladder stand, he had no idea Fletcher was sitting in and had just shot a deer from it. He knew only that his 27-year-old son was hunting the 55 acres, which is why he thought to ask before driving back there.

To learn that Fletcher was actually hunting from his stand was a bit shocking. Kiddo had ribbed him about the poor placement, saying it was too obvious and that he'd stick out like a sore thumb if he sat in it, which is why Danny was bringing the camo.

"It's funny," Fletcher said. "I'd told Dad: ‘You're NOT going to get a shot at a deer from that stand.' I'd been nagging him about it being too much in the wide open."

Fletcher was thrilled over his father's arrival, even if it meant he'd have to eat a little crow. The timing couldn't have been better, too, because he didn't want to get down from the stand and lose sight of the downed deer; he wanted to be able to shoot again, if it regained its feet.

So he told Danny to come on in, and he directed him to the still-dead whitetail.

"Why'd you shoot such a small buck?" his father yelled. "It's half as big as the one on your brother's camera."

Fletcher was sure the deer was no slouch, but he couldn't help second-guessing his estimate until Danny started chuckling.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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