The Story of Kentucky’s top crossbow buck.
I’ve been a diehard bowhunter for 29 years, but shoulder replacement surgery on July 26, 2010, almost broke my bowhunting streak.
My surgeon suggested I use a crossbow, and after a lot of thought, I decided to give it a try. I purchased a crossbow and obtained the proper paperwork to hunt with it during the regular bow season in Kentucky.
I have taken 60 or 70 deer with a compound bow and another 30 or so with firearms, so I never dreamed 2010 would turn out to be so memorable.
I was in my stand on Nov. 2 when a huge buck approached. He was moving pretty fast, but not at an all-out run.
I was unable to stop him, but I felt pretty good about the 15-yard shot. I knew right away that I’d hit the giant deer, but was unsure of how well.
It was not until about noon the next day, after hours of blood-trailing and prayers, that I realized I was not going to recover that buck.
I returned home, sick to my stomach. For the rest of that day and for the next two, I was as miserable as I have ever been. I had let the deer of my dreams slip through my fingers. I played that shot over and over in my mind, and I believe I would take that shot again, given the chance.
After days of self-pity and making everyone around me miserable, I considered never hunting again. I went to bed Friday night really tired from three nights with little sleep, but something seemed a little different.
I was starting to accept I had made an ethical (although off-the-mark) shot, and thoughts of the rut were creeping back into my mind.
I thanked God for all his blessings and felt a wonderful calmness come over me. I knew I had to get up the next morning and return to the ridge that had been so good to me over the years.
I got out of bed around 4:30 the next morning and arrived at my stand 30 minutes before daylight.
When it got bright enough to see, I looked at the shooting lane where I had taken the shot at the giant deer, imagining God had answered my prayer for one more shot at the buck.
I rattled and grunted every 15 minutes or so. Then, around 8 a.m., a small-racked buck came to within 75 yards. I had made up my mind to take him if he came close enough, but he disappeared over the ridge.
At 9:20, I looked at my watch and decided to try another two or three rattling sequences before calling it a morning. About 10 minutes after hanging up the antlers, the sound of footfalls whispered through the woods. The source was just over the ridge and out of sight, but I was positive a deer was approaching.
I stood and shouldered my crossbow, but it was two or three minutes before the deer topped the ridge. It was a big, mature doe, but I could hear another deer somewhere behind her.
The doe kept coming until she was directly under my stand. When I turned my attention to the second deer, I nearly fell out of the stand. The shooting lane I had looked at a thousand times that morning — the same one where I had shot the giant deer on Tuesday afternoon — was once again filled with a giant buck.
I immediately leveled my 20-yard pin just behind the deer’s shoulder and squeezed the trigger.
But nothing happened.
I started to panic until I realized I hadn’t released the safety. I disengaged the safety and tried again. That time, the 20-inch bolt left the bow and whisked through the buck’s vitals just behind the front leg.
I sat down and thanked God and tried to calm down enough to call my wife. When she answered, I said, “You’re not going to believe what just happened!”
She said, “You better not have hurt that new shoulder.”
When I told her I had shot another giant deer, she gave me a few warnings about not dragging, tugging or lifting it with my tender shoulder. I assured her I wouldn’t. Non-hunting spouses sometimes don’t have their priorities straight, after all.
I then called three of my hunting buddies. It felt like it took forever for them to get there, but it really wasn’t that long — and there’s nothing wrong with giving a deer plenty of time.
We didn’t rush the tracking, and about an hour after we started, we found the giant buck. There was no ground shrinkage.
I walked up close enough to see the massive antlers sticking well above the ground. I sat down about 25 feet away and thanked God again for allowing me to harvest yet another one of these wonderful creatures.
My buddies and I celebrated with a few high-fives, and I am not ashamed to say I also shed a few tears.
When I turned the big buck over to field-dress him, I got another surprise. He had a fresh wound just in front of his leg where my broadhead had passed through his brisket Tuesday evening. Yes, it was the same buck, and I was unbelievably blessed to have two shots at a monster whitetail.
The buck has been officially scored for Buckmasters Trophy Records scoring system, and at 188 1/8 inches, the new Kentucky record for crossbow bucks. And that, of course, doesn’t include the 21 3/8-inch inside spread!
Other notable statistics include a 26 5/8-inch right main beam and a 28 1/8-inch left one. Both base measurements were more than 6 inches, and he has 20 scoreable points.
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• Two Bucks, One Great Day: A hunting couple share an amazing day on public land in Montana. This article was published in the August 2012 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.