Corey Bacon is usually pretty good at judging bucks by their cover, but he was dead wrong last year.
The 28-year-old from Lebo, Kansas, mistakenly thought he’d shot a 160-inch 8-pointer on Dec. 8, 2018, the No. 2 deer on that season’s wish list. He didn’t see the kickers or the little drop tines it wore until he reached the downed animal.
He would’ve been elated to tag the second-best buck on the property. When he discovered he’d shot the biggest, he was over the moon.
Corey struck out before dawn that day with his .270, his destination a brushed-in ground blind at the base of a large tree. Before sunrise, he heard the unmistakable sound of two bucks fighting. He guessed they were in a soybean field about 300 yards distant.
That the whitetails were going at it so late in the year surprised him.
“Our rut is usually over by the end of November, and this was a week into December,” he told John Phillips, who’s writing the story for Rack magazine. Dominance and breeding rights should’ve been decided long before then.
Corey hoped one of the two bucks was Stickers, a deer he’d been monitoring via trail camera for three years. Stickers was a mainframe 8-pointer with drop tines, and all the landowners in a 2-mile radius knew about him.
Corey doesn’t know if the local legend was one of the fighters, but it doesn’t really matter. Whether the kicker, kicked or spectator, the buck eventually appeared in front of him.
“Stickers came out of the tree line, walked into the field and turned broadside,” he said. “I ranged him at 108 yards.
“I took one deep breath and exhaled slowly to try and settle myself down, so I wouldn’t have to rush the shot,” he added.
The deer’s flight was short.
After covering 10 yards, the giant whitetail slowed, stopped and started backing up unsteadily before falling over backwards. It died less than 2 feet from where it had taken the bullet.
— Read Recent Blog! Trading Camo for Orange: Cameran Derefield's 22-pointer has a BTR score of 189 3/8 inches.