Big Buck 411 Blog

If You Pass Them, They Will Grow

If You Pass Them, They Will Grow

By Mike Handley

Brian Lay must possess more self control than your average deer hunter, and the same could be said for antlers.

As the man from Harrodsburg, Kentucky, suspected, the 160-inch whitetail he allowed to keep on trucking in 2019 was much bigger the following year. Even so, he gave the animal's core area a wide berth because he thought it had the potential to become a truly world-class specimen.

The buck's get-out-of-the-truck-free card expired in 2021, however.

Brian hunts a 200-acre Mercer County farm, half of which is dedicated to growing alfalfa. The buck spent a lot of time in the grassy buffet ahead of the 2021 season.

"When I got the first pictures of the deer with a fully developed rack, I almost fell out of my chair," Brian told Dale Weddle, who's writing the story for Rack magazine. "The pics confirmed I had done the right thing by letting it live another year."

Brian accumulated several daytime photos of the exceptional whitetail, which was fairly predictable. He erected four ladder stands along the deer's favorite route, three of them with trail cameras nearby.

The man's confidence took a big hit about a week before Kentucky's bow season opened, when army worms (moth larvae) invaded the whitetail's main food source. The farmer was forced to cut what alfalfa was spared, and then he sprayed the once verdant field.

The insecticide might as well have been brown paint.

"I was afraid my chances at the big buck were gone," Brian admitted. "Luckily, however, the alfalfa began to regenerate. By the first of September, it was starting to come back. There was some green amongst the brown, and deer returned."

Brian came within a gnat's breath of arrowing the buck of his dreams on opening day, but another deer saw him draw his bow.

The encounter took the wind out of the bowhunter's sails until the evening of Sept. 24, when he'd planned to attend son Colin's football game. Had Colin not urged him to go to his deer stand, Brian's 2021 season might've ended far differently.

He took his crossbow that day, and he was aloft about 20 minutes before 6 p.m. Soon afterward, a doe arrived.

"The wind was not blowing in my favor, so I was relying on scent-free clothing and (cut) cedar limbs to cover my scent," Brian said. "The doe started acting jumpy, though. The path I had taken to the stand was clean except for the last 15 yards, and she went over and smelled every branch and twig along that route. She wound up coming all the way to my ladder stand, sniffing the whole way.

"I had been videoing her with my phone. Just as I tucked it up under my seat, I glimpsed a tree moving about 40 yards in front of me. A small buck was rubbing the rest of the velvet off its rack.

"Soon, three more bucks arrived," he continued. "Every buck that was using the area, except the big one, was there."

Soon, even that one joined the group.

The buck, mostly obscured by brush, was already less than 7 yards away when Brian noticed it. The animal clearly distracted by the sparring of underlings.

"When the big buck stopped in the wide open at 20 yards, I was ready. After the bolt struck it, the deer ran only 10 yards before collapsing," he continued.

The 19-pointer scores 212 2/8 inches by Buckmasters' yardstick, a new No. 4 for Kentucky in its category.

— Read Recent Blog! It's Official - Huff Buck is a World Record: Dustin Huff's Indiana buck tallied 212 3/8 inches on the Buckmasters scale.

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