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Entries for 'Mike Handley'

In Praise of Plans B

The Land of a Bearded Daniel Day-Lewis yielded several 200-plus-inchers in 2012, and many of them will appear next fall in RACK magazine. One of the finest was arrowed in Peoria County by Bill Ullrich of Washburn, Ill.

Had the 53-year-old, veteran bowhunter stuck to his original plan on Oct. 26, the nearly 240-inch buck might still be living. Had Bill's son, Matt, also been able to leave work early that day, his might be the grin behind this fabulous whitetail.

But Bill was bowhunting alone that Friday afternoon, and he chose to head to a different spot almost as soon as he parked his truck. The hunt concluded less than an hour later.

He had his choice of two food plots in the little valley he hunts. His Plan B involved taking a climbing stand to a half-acre turnip and clover patch where he'd taken five bucks in the past.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Seeing Isn't Always Aiming

As soon as the bowstring's kisser button hit the corner of Jon Wolf's mouth, he almost panicked. The 63-year-old hunter from Galva, Ill., was staring at a buck wearing what looked more like an upturned rotary hoe than antlers. But he wasn't seeing it through a peep sight.

The device was there, right beside his nose, but it wasn't encircling the pin Jon had pointed at the dandy whitetail just 15 yards from his ladder stand.

It took only a split-second for the befuddled bowhunter to compensate, to flick his wrist and bring things in line, but he doesn't remember doing so. One minute, he was rattled; the next, he was holding a limp bow and watching the deer careening away through the strip of trees and into the adjacent field.

He knew he'd somehow hit it.

After the buck disappeared, Jon got down, walked back to his truck and called his wife, Jane. The two of them returned later and found the exceptional animal.

Jane, also a hunter, was the first to recognize the deer as being one their trail camera had photographed in 2011, the same buck that caught Jon mid-draw that year and then vanished for the remainder of the season.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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...]

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