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Will Easterling • 11/13/2012 • Carter County , KY • Rifle

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Entries for 'Mike Handley'

New World Record from Avoyelles Parish

The last time Mark Huval thought enough of a buck to put an arrow through it, Louisiana folk were still reeling from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. There was a different president, a different pope, and gasoline cost $2.10 a gallon. Six years is a long time to wait for the right buck, especially if you're a bowhunter, and even more so if you're packing a 58-pound-draw recurve. The deer that finally won Mark's heart last season was probably born in 2005, the year he arrowed his last buck. He knew the animal well, too. He'd even waved goodbye to it the previous season, when it was a clean 5x5 with 40 or so less inches of antler. Mark is one of five people who hunt 1,200 acres adjacent to the 17,500-acre Lake Ophelia National Wildlife Refuge, which is shaped like a rubber ducky. He's made the 92-mile drive from Lafayette to Avoyelles Parish since 1991. He began his love affair with his Black Widow recurve four years before that. On the cold and rainy day after Christmas, a Monday, Mark donned his rain slicker, loaded his gear into a small boat and used a trolling motor to reach a homemade wooden ground blind only 300 yards from the refuge's border. The buck with a familiar face passed within SIX yards about 7:30.

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Dorothy, He Ain't

Deer hunters with unfilled tags and two days left to fill them aren't especially eager to see the great state of Kansas in their rearview mirrors. But when Jay Hickey realized southwest Arkansas was about to be hit by a rare southerly breeze, he couldn't click his heels and head home fast enough.

Not even the allure of a beefy and heavy antlered Kansas buck could keep his mind off a whitetail roaming his own ground, a deer so unique and big that he'd sworn the few people who knew about it to secrecy. He'd devoted 27 outings to that whitetail, and he thought a south wind might just be his ticket to the dance.

Jay's first glimpse of the extraordinary buck was via trail-camera photograph in November 2010. He hunted it diligently, but he never saw the mostly nocturnal animal on the hoof.

He continued his quest with both bow and muzzleloader in 2011, right up until the day he left to hunt the rut with an outfitter friend in Kansas.

The long drive home early that morning had given Jay heavy eyelids, but they snapped open when a doe exited the thicket he was watching, mainly because a much bigger deer was about 20 yards behind her.

It took some bleating to lure the doe close and a loud "MAAAHHH" to stop the buck before the brambles swallowed it, but Jay finally saw the Holy Grail in his crosshairs on the 28th day.

He, his brother Jimmy and a dear friend, Dr. Brian Bowen, recovered it the following morning.

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Night of the Living Dead

Chris Miraglia looked like one of George Romero's zombies when he staggered into his suburban Ohio home on Oct. 24, 2011. Had it not been for the goofy grin underneath his bloody and creviced brow, his wife might've screamed.

She almost did anyway.

"I got him! I stuck him good!" he mumbled, which, to her, sounded more like "I want to eat your brains!"

And then it registered: Chris had used "him" and "stuck" in the same sentence, which could mean only that he'd put an arrow through Big Boy, a buck with which her husband had become infatuated. But had he field-dressed it with his teeth?

"After I shot Big Boy and saw him lay down, I was hyperventilating," Chris explained. "I was so intent on keeping my eyes on him, I missed the last three steps on the ladder, went down and hit a tree face-first.

"I split my forehead wide open and was bleeding pretty profusely," he added. "I was too excited to even care."

Because Chris had literally been hunting in his back yard outside Canton, the last thing he wanted to do was push the buck out of the small copse of woods and onto a neighbor's lawn. So he slept fitfully and didn't return until the following morning.

The deer hadn't moved.

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Mikey Will be Missed

Michaella Monroe, the Kentucky teenager who shot the giant 24-pointer that was featured in the July issue of Rack magazine, was killed in an automobile accident last month. She was riding with two classmates when their truck overturned on Mike Brown Road. Shelby Bockting, 17, also died at the scene. The third girl, 16-year-old Jenna Rigsby, was airlifted, hospitalized and released. Michaella, known as "Mikey," was still in diapers when her father, Paul, began carrying her deer hunting with him. She shot her first deer, an 8-pointer, when she was 5. "Daddy held the gun, but I aimed it and pulled the trigger," she told Lisa Price, who wrote the story for Rack. "The scope hit me in the nose, but I didn't care. I just wanted to go find the deer." She was also hunting with her father in 2009, when she shot the largest buck taken in Kentucky that year. It was Oct. 11, the second day of the state's youth season. They'd glimpsed the buck the previous day, while retrieving a deer shot by her little brother Cody. About 15 minutes before dark, the buck with the familiar rack sauntered out of the woods. She missed on her first shot, but connected with the second. She also shot a doe while they were waiting to track the buck. After not finding any sign of a hit that night, Mikey, her dad and grandfather, Danny Aldridge, resumed looking and found the deer the following morning.  "When I got up to it, I just fell to my knees in the water," Mikey said. "That's when I saw my grandfather standing above me on the bank."

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