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Bill Drazenovich
Bill Drazenovich • Nov. 9 , 2011 • Mine Centre , Ontario , Canada • Rifle

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Barry Fultz
Barry Fultz • 11/19/2011 • St. Clair County , Illinois • Shotgun

Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

Entries for 'Mike Handley'

29
Has THE Pike County Come Full Circle?

Back in 2001, the year I first went to Pike County, Ill., and shot my first buck and doe with a bow (I was a late bloomer in archery), the area was 20 years beyond its peak.

I still remember the 1980s, when newspapers all over the country published stories about the monstrous whitetails being harvested in Pike County. The glowing reports made it seem as if giant deer were to be found behind every sparse bush.

In no time at all, every inch of ground - with or without bushes - was snatched up by outfitters eager to capitalize off the big deer and free publicity.

Unless they had land to lease, the locals hated it. Still do, I suspect.

Giant deer aren't as numerous as they were during west-central Illinois' heyday. But the food is still there. Ditto for the genetics. And the land certainly hasn't disappeared, though it might have changed hands a few dozen times.

It's extremely rare for hunters to tag world-class bucks while hunting with an outfitter. Deer simply won't tolerate the extra pressure.

If there is an exception, however, it's to be found in Pike County. When the corn is harvested, whitetails concentrate in the only cover left to them.

[Read the rest of this article...]

22
The Newest World Record in the BTR

Bill Testerman of Belton, Mo., is more accustomed to buying condiments than paying for taxidermy. Prior to last season, he regarded most deer as roasts on four legs.

Now that his name has gone into the record book alongside the newest BTR world record, however, antlers carry a bit more cachet.

Oh, racks have and will always make any hunter giddy. It's why people who pore over trail camera photographs will fast-forward through National Geographic-quality doe pictures to stare for hours at a grainy, barely decipherable image of a 2 1/2-year-old 8-pointer.

Before Bill put an arrow through this giant 13-pointer last year, he devoted a lot of eye time to a buck photographed by a trail cam. It was a bad picture, from a bad angle, and there was no way to count points.

But he got a better look when he jumped the animal in some CRP about two weeks before bow season opened. Bill was impressed, but he says he didn't dwell on the animal. He was more interested in his annual hunt with a friend.

"Oct. 21 was warm, and I really didn't expect to see anything. Everything was wrong, except for the wind direction," Bill told Jill Easton, who's penning his story for RACK magazine.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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...]

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