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Entries for 'Mike Handley'

Testament for Still-hunting

Had the state of Illinois not changed the rules for 2011's October youth hunt, allowing kids to shoot bucks (not just does), Chapin, Ill., taxidermist Jason Donovan might've earned one less truck payment.

Nobody was happier to hear the news than 12-year-old Dalton Phillips.

Not that Dalton was new to hunting, not because he minded being on doe patrol, and not because he'd never shot a buck. He began accompanying his dad, Travis, when he was 7. Going into the 2011 season, he'd already shot a 6-pointer, 8-pointer and a couple of does with is shotgun.

Just knowing that bucks were fair game was enough to put a spring in his step when he and his dad headed to a farm in McDonough County on Saturday, Oct. 9.

"We sat for a long time (on the ground), but saw nothing," Dalton said. "So we got up and started walking through an oak bottom, just easing along, working our way down a big hill.

"When we saw this deer, it was eating grass and berries. It didn't know we were there," he continued. "I got down on one knee and put my elbow on the other one.

"I had to shoot really quickly," he said.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Venison with a Side of Crow

When Danny Culpepper sent his son, Fletcher, a text message on Oct. 22, asking if he could carry some material in to camouflage his ladder stand, he had no idea Fletcher was sitting in and had just shot a deer from it. He knew only that his 27-year-old son was hunting the 55 acres, which is why he thought to ask before driving back there.

To learn that Fletcher was actually hunting from his stand was a bit shocking. Kiddo had ribbed him about the poor placement, saying it was too obvious and that he'd stick out like a sore thumb if he sat in it, which is why Danny was bringing the camo.

"It's funny," Fletcher said. "I'd told Dad: ‘You're NOT going to get a shot at a deer from that stand.' I'd been nagging him about it being too much in the wide open."

Fletcher was thrilled over his father's arrival, even if it meant he'd have to eat a little crow. The timing couldn't have been better, too, because he didn't want to get down from the stand and lose sight of the downed deer; he wanted to be able to shoot again, if it regained its feet.

So he told Danny to come on in, and he directed him to the still-dead whitetail.

"Why'd you shoot such a small buck?" his father yelled. "It's half as big as the one on your brother's camera."

Fletcher was sure the deer was no slouch, but he couldn't help second-guessing his estimate until Danny started chuckling.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Signal Jammer

If you tried to call someone in Columbus, Ohio, between 7:00 and 8 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2011, and got an "all circuits are busy" message, blame Ronnie Stevens.

By the time he'd finished calling all his friends that evening, his telephone was smoking; there was no skin left on his dialing thumb; and he was perilously close to having laryngitis. It's a wonder he didn't lose track of who knew and who didn't know that he'd let the air out of a world-class whitetail.

"I called pretty much everyone in Ohio," he grins.

The bowhunter made short work of putting an arrow through his heart's desire during his first stint in a new stand, although the 25 days leading up to that long anticipated encounter were anything but routine.

On the way back home from his son's volleyball game on opening day of bow season, he spotted a bachelor group of very nice bucks feeding in a bean field. One was an incredible 10-pointer he thought would easily tally 180 inches.

So smitten with the deer, Ronnie found out who owned the property and gained permission to hunt it, which would've been okay except that the nearby village had a "no projectile" ordinance (as applicable to broadheads as it is bullets).

After trying and failing to persuade city officials to allow him to hunt that farm, he wound up having to seeking permission to hunt another landowner's property -- outside the village's jurisdiction -- across the road.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Forget Flying Saucers

The owner of an auto body shop in Baxter Springs, Kan., unwittingly discovered the truth behind crop circles last month, much to the chagrin of believers in UFOs and extraterrestrials.

Jay Price witnessed the phenomenon in a Cherokee County soybean field on Oct. 3, and the experience left him weak-kneed and unable to perform even the simplest of tasks.

The culprit was a deer, specifically a very large buck with a very large hole in it.

"As soon as the arrow hit, that deer started doing somersaults," the 32-year-old businessman claims. "It ran between 60 and 80 yards out into the beans and just started rolling around, really tearing them up, like somebody on a four-wheeler was cutting doughnuts."

As soon as the giant whitetail ran out of gas, it sank out of sight into the beans, which is when Jay thought he'd messed up and shot the "wrong" deer. He hadn't taken the time to really study the rack before the shot, and there was no time to ogle it afterward.

Wrong, in this case, meant the smaller of two shooter bucks he'd seen a couple of days earlier while scouting with a buddy.

His fears, however, were unwarranted. With a composite score of 228 3/8 (210 without the spread) the 22-pointer is No. 19 among Sunflower State Irregulars felled by compound bow.

I'll share the rest of the story in Rack magazine next summer.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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