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Entries for 'Mike Handley'

Passing Judgment

If you're going to judge a book buck by its cover, you'd better tilt it this way and that.

When Devin Moore of Purcell, Okla., booked a deer hunt with an Alberta outfitter, his personal goal was to shoot nothing less than a 160-inch buck. He was also willing to swallow that tag and write off the trip as an expensive vacation.

But that was before the last-day change of heart that so often afflicts those who travel to hunt. In this case, however, lowering the bar was a good thing.

A REALLY good thing.

Had Devin stuck to his guns and passed on this last-day whitetail, which he and his guide thought was a 155-incher, he'd have unwittingly allowed a 215-incher (spread included) to keep on trucking. Seen from head on, his buck looks 50 inches smaller; the P2s alone look like 6-inchers - half as long as they really are.

Neither Devin nor his guide, Aaron Franklin, will forget that 1 p.m. encounter on the last afternoon of the hunt. They were plodding in the snow, following an old logging road, when they spotted the buck in some willows at 200 yards.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Four Booms for the Buck

Jason Hardin's first racked buck was faster than a speeding bullet – three of them, to be precise.

Had Superbuck kept on flying in the same direction instead of thrice looping around like a scared rabbit, it might still be in Jason's head instead of on his wall in Chillicothe, Ohio.

You just don't give a determined deer hunter that many tugs on your cape.

Jason and his son, Quentin, were hunting a coworker's land when this saga unfolded last year. They had no idea that the place would become a shooting gallery on their very first outing.

That was on Nov. 26, opening day of gun season. Father and son were manning separate ground blinds about 150 yards apart, and they'd swapped places after lunch.

Eventually, Jason heard Quentin's shotgun roar. Moments later, he saw a buck trot out of some nearby pines (unaware that was the deer his son had tried to shoot). Thus began the loop that ended after a fourth slug finally toppled the almost bulletproof 17-pointer.

"I blew up a small tree the first time I shot, completely missing the buck," Jason said. "I was too stunned to fire again."

Ditto when the deer returned.

"After the second miss, I set my gun down, sat back and held my head in my hands," Jason said. "That was the first racked buck I'd ever seen while hunting, since 1996 ... the first buck I had ever shot at ... and I'd missed ... not once, but twice!"

The third time, he didn't.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Breaking a Sweat

Deer hunters in the Midwest complain loudly whenever the temperature climbs into the 60s in November. Farther north, they'd consider it justification for staying indoors and watching TV show hunters whispering into cameras.

The 60s would be a cool snap in southwestern Georgia, however.

It was 79 degrees when Michael Spurlin went to his tripod stand about 4 p.m. on Nov. 9, 2012 - NOVEMBER, not SEPTEMBER.

"My expectations were high. I've always had the most success hunting the first and second weeks of November," the 29-year-old from Leesburg told Lisa Price, who will chronicle his tale for RACK magazine next year.

Plus, he'd heard an all-out buck brawl while hunting the farm the previous day.

At prime time that evening, the bull of the woods - or, more appropriately, pine plantation - approached the food plot Michael was watching from his tripod. The hunter had been in his stand for little more than an hour.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Boot Leather and Resolve Lead to Happy Ending

If Ryan Stolz hadn't anticipated his buck's ducking the string, a phrase that's rightfully falling out of favor with the (compound) bowhunters who coined it, he might've had his mount a whole lot sooner. And he might've had more and much better photographs.

But at least he got his deer and will soon see the antlers affixed to a form with glass eyes, albeit with another buck's hair.

The bowhunter from Mondamin, Iowa, had dreamt about arrowing this whitetail with points aplenty long before he triggered his release on Oct. 1. He first heard about it during the 2011 shotgun season, when it was seen and missed during man-drives.

After the curtain fell on the 2011-12 season, seems like everyone in Harrison County saw the buck. Its sheds were found. And by summertime, every other tree was a hitching post for a trail camera.

Ryan took to the woods on Oct. 1, wearing his ghillie suit. After an uneventful morning, he went to a different spot, which afforded him a 50-yard shot at the local legend.

He connected, too, but the shot was a tad low.

"I expected the buck to duck the arrow, but it didn't," Ryan said.

Blood was sparse, but Ryan never threw in the towel. He spent much of the week he'd taken off from work to scour the countryside.

By the time he found his prize in a brush pile beside his dad's unpicked bean field, coyotes had torn into it.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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