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joe sharp • 11/30/2011 • Lawrence County , Ohio • Gun

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Bret A. LaFrance
Bret A. LaFrance • 11/26/2012 • Hampshire , MA • Shotgun

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Entries for 'Mike Handley'

23
Early Birthday Present

Three or four minutes after a spike crossed the ridge he was watching, 16-year-old Logan Sewell of Natchez, Miss., saw a much bigger whitetail approaching and lifted his binoculars.

With one quick glance, the teenager knew he was going to smoke the Illinois bruiser. He saw only a couple of tines, but both were more than a foot long. And those 24 inches were backed up by lots more.

That was the third day of the Land of Lincoln's November firearms season. His father, Joe, was bowhunting the same 440 acres when he saw the jaw-dropping buck two-thirds of a mile from where Logan encountered it. Instead of going to his treestand that day, Joe stopped short and went into an old barn.

"That buck was the first deer I saw that evening," he remembers. "It and a doe passed between 30 and 35 yards of the tree with my stand in it, and then they disappeared. They came back right at dark and, that time, walked within 12 yards of the tree."

The duo eventually was just 40 yards from Joe's vantage point in the barn, but he chose not to take the shot.

Logan couldn't be happier with that decision. The 18-pointer was a perfect week-early birthday present. Its BTR composite score is 205 6/8 inches.

[Read the rest of this article...]

16
Lagniappe in Louisiana

Had Tadpole McLeod been hunting alone on Jan. 7, he'd have thrown in the towel long before sunset.

The commotion in his formerly quiet corner of Louisiana's Tensas National Wildlife Refuge was almost more than the bowhunter from Starks, La., could bear. It was as if an insane, broom-wielding maid was beating a rug to death.

But since rugs don't squawk, he realized buzzards were to blame for the din that set his teeth on edge.

"About 4:00, they went to roost about 150 yards behind me," said Tadpole, whose real name is Alton. "There must've been 30 of them, making all kinds of noise. Seriously, I thought the day was done at that point. The only reason I stayed in my tree was because I didn't want to mess up my buddies' hunts."

An hour later, he heard something -- either a deer or a bear, from the sound of it -- approaching from his left through the palmetto, almost from the direction of the roost tree. Knowing he'd better be ready if it happened to be a deer, he stood and held his bow.

Seeing a partial rack at 30 yards was all Tadpole needed; he never gave the antlers a second glance. He watched the buck make a scrape, and then it began walking straight toward him.

"I didn't know how good of a buck it was," he said. "I thought it was just an 8- or a 10-pointer, so I pretty much focused only on its body."

Tadpole drew his bow when the deer passed behind a tree. He was hoping it would turn and offer anything but a head-on shot, but it didn't.

[Read the rest of this article...]

09
Illinois Teen a Straight Shooter

It fell to a veterinarian's scalpel to decide whether an Illinois 15-year-old could keep the deer he shot on Nov. 18, opening morning of the state's (initial) firearms season.

Because three telephone callers claimed he'd shot the enormous buck with a rifle, which is illegal in Illinois, Josh Riggs, a straight-A student and football player at La Salle-Peru Township High School, was forced to prove his innocence.

The allegations were taken seriously until Josh agreed to take the whitetail to an Ottawa, Ill., veterinary clinic for X-raying.

The teenager told authorities he shot the buck three times with his 12-gauge shotgun. But the X-ray showed more than three foreign objects. One was an expandable broadhead buried in the deer's shoulder. The rest were indeed fragments of three shotgun slugs, Josh said.

The finding lifted the kid back onto Cloud Nine.

"That was a three-hour ordeal," Josh said. "I wasn't happy about it at the time, but now I couldn't be happier."

Josh was hunting from a 17-foot-high double ladder stand on his father's 80 acres in La Salle County. He'd lost track of a 10-pointer that had followed a couple of does across a power line when he happened to look in the opposite direction and into the glare of this magnificent buck standing only 20 yards away.

[Read the rest of this article...]

02
One of Mississippi's Finest from 2011

Ray Vaughan didn't really want to close his eyes on the night of Nov. 22, which would've meant not staring at the severed head inside his 27-foot-long home away from home.

He wanted to ogle it, to see the vacant eyes, the faint blood spatter, and especially the enormous antlers. He'd shot the buck that evening, and it took all the willpower the grandfather of 12 possessed not to drive immediately and hand it over to a taxidermist.

Ray settled for waiting until the following morning to do that, but only because he could keep the head and cape behind the camper's locked door, away from the jaws of dogs and varmints and the hands of thieving passers-by.

"I didn't want to lose track of the thing, so I spent the night with it," he laughed. "I didn't sleep with him, but we got real close."

Ray is one of a dozen guys who share a 1,500-acre lease in Clarke County, Miss., about 13 miles west of Butler, Ala. 

On Nov. 22, a Monday, Ray went to a redheaded step-child of a food plot the other members had ignored. The grass patch was as thin as new whiskers because of the summertime drought, but there was enough to attract deer.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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