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Entries for 'Mike Handley'

15
Trip Wire

After three years of playing cat and mouse with a warhorse of a buck, 'twas Gary Hornbeck who wore the Cheshire grin in 2012.

Had it not been for an old wire fence, however, the normally surefooted whitetail might have won the day. At the very least, the deer hunter from Piqua, Ohio, would not have had a clear shot at the animal's heart.

Gary, who drives a school bus, first saw the fabulous deer in 2010 from behind the wheel. It was on his neighbor's land. His wife also saw it that year before it became entirely nocturnal.

He saw it next in 2011. While walking out to repair a pasture fence, he walked right past the buck and a doe.

"All I had was a claw hammer," Gary said. "I actually wondered if I could throw the hammer and maybe hit the deer in the head."

That was the only time he encountered the giant whitetail while the sun was up that season, though he saw it thrice in the glow of headlights while driving his bus.

Gary and his wife enjoyed watching the deer feeding in an alfalfa field many times during the late summer and early fall of 2012. He got his first real chance at it during the early hunting season.

"I was carrying my unloaded crossbow while walking across the pasture to my stand," he said. "Suddenly, the buck stood about 20 yards from me. The weeds were tall enough that all I could see were its neck and head, but those were enough to get my adrenaline flowing.

"It stared at me for close to five minutes," he said, adding that he couldn't move until the animal finally turned to leave. By that time, the only shot he had was at a 45-yard, quartering-away target, which he opted not to take.

The last time hunter met hunted, there was no time to ponder worst-case scenarios.

[Read the rest of this article...]

08
One Very Dead Phone

Jeff Sims killed his cell phone on Nov. 24, 2012, but not before the entire civilized world - or at least much of Franklin County, Ind. - knew what else he'd killed.

The deer hunter from West Harrison called and texted so many people, he fried his cell phone's innards. It took only four shotgun slugs to do the same to the buck that caused all the hoopla.

Within minutes of the demise of Jeff's phone, many more were jamming the airwaves with the same news.

"Before the deer was even out of the woods, my wife and daughter, my wife's friend and her four kids, and my buddy and his two sons were there beside me," he said. "It was crazy."

And he loved every minute of it!

Jeff knew this 19-pointer, along with a handsome 14-pointer, existed or at least passed through the 100 acres he hunts. So when a serious fall on the job resulted in doctor's orders to stay home, he decided a deer stand was as much furniture as a sofa.

By late November, ready for a change of scenery after 40 days of hunting the same haunts, he began thinking about the 8-acre ribbon of timber flanking his driveway. He'd never hunted in there because the place is so thick. It's roughly 200 yards wide and more than twice that long.

Jeff left the house on the fateful day about 2:30, climber strapped to his bum back and shotgun in hand. When he found a suitable tree, he leaned his gun against it, shrugged out of the stand and looked at his watch, which read 3:00.

"I then grabbed my gun to move it over to another tree while I attached my climber," he said. "And the instant I picked it up, I heard a noise to my left."

[Read the rest of this article...]

01
Mighty Weren't the Preparations

Noting the comings and goings of whitetails on a mere 5 acres should be as easy as pulling a can of green beans out of the cupboard.

Cody Gwinner and his father, Ted, know their little patch of woods near Okeana, Ohio, like it was a pantry. And they normally pinpoint the freshest and most often used deer trails long before the season opens.

In 2012, however, they were flying blind.

"Between going to work and helping with the family chores, I was just too wrapped up to do any of it," said Cody. "Only when the season was upon us did I do a small amount of glassing."

Cody saw nothing to excite him during the time he spent with binoculars glued to his eyes. But he did see a couple of very nice 10-pointers cross his driveway one morning in mid-August, which lifted his spirits.

It was so hot in October that Cody was in no hurry to burn his tag. Even the thinnest camo felt like a sweat suit, and the deer were afoot mostly at night anyway.

By November, however, the activity increases dramatically.

Cody arrived home early on Nov. 5 and was in a stand by 4 p.m.  An hour later, he saw a small buck approaching from the neighboring property. When he reached for his binoculars, he dropped them.

[Read the rest of this article...]

25
One Man's Loss...

Anyone who's used a sleeve or glove to frantically wipe a fogged-up scope while a buck is changing zip codes can sympathize with the hunter who was on the other side of a creek from Danny Smith last year.

Danny's not one to smile upon another's misfortune, but he'll shed no tears over his neighbor's missed opportunity on opening day of Kentucky's 2012 rifle season. Because when the deer made it to his side of the creek, there was no going back.

A huge fan of trail cameras, the (unfogged) hunter from Monticello, Ky., knew that an enormous Typical was traipsing in and out of his property in Wayne County. He collected the first nighttime photograph of it in 2011.

The buck mugged for the lens several times at night, but only once during the day. The season ended, but the deer survived and grew an even bigger rack.

Danny got 20 seconds of video footage of it in November, a week before rifle season opened, and the tall rack left him weak-kneed.

He saw the sunrise from a newly relocated stand when the opening bell sounded. At 9:30, about the time a leg cramp was causing him to consider going home, Danny heard a deer in the nearby creek. Half an hour later, he saw the buck with the familiar rack.

"When you see something like that coming through the woods, there's no doubt," he laughed, holding his hands about two feet apart.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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