What’s the world coming to when you can’t trust the word of your hunting buddies?
When Chad Clark split off from his buddies on opening day of Kentucky’s 2013 rifle season, he told them that if they heard him shoot, he was going to be standing over a 10-pointer his trail cameras had photographed earlier in the fall.
The 19-year-old has access to several pieces of property in Lewis County. Where he chooses to spend his time is based largely on images collected by trail cameras.
Two years ago, he and his older brother, Billy, along with some friends, gained permission to hunt a new 500-acre farm.
“The owner walked me around and showed me the property line,” Chad said. “The farm is about half open hay fields and had cattle running on them. The other half is woods, with about 100 of those acres being good hardwoods.
“That first year, I used a climbing stand in order to move around to different areas and check things out. I bowhunted the farm some, but I didn’t see much.”
Prior to the 2013 season, however, the teenager retrieved some trail camera photos of a big 10-pointer with a tall rack. Plus, he’d heard that the neighboring landowner was collecting photos of some enormous bucks, including one with long main beams that dropped straight down in front.
That was the incentive Chad needed.
On Nov. 9, opening morning of modern gun season, the Clark brothers and two friends, Charlie Fyffe and his pal Nooner, were on the new farm.
“I told them, ‘If you hear me shoot at anything, it’s going to be the big 10,’” Chad said.
He headed for a hardwood ridge 250 yards away before sunup. He spooked several deer along the way.
When he saw a big red oak beside an old logging road, he decided to attach his stand and climb it. The temperature was about 30 degrees, and there was no wind — a perfect morning, he thought.
Not long after sunrise, Chad started hearing gunshots. But he didn’t see a deer until just past 9:00, when he was about to descend. He’d already tied the pull-up rope to his rifle.
“For the rest of my life, I’ll always think about how close I came to missing what happened next,” he said.
He happened to glance to his left, just in time to see a big buck with downward-sloping beams step out of a nearby bench at 70 yards. Still sitting, Chad quickly untied his rifle.
“The buck was throwing his head back, testing the wind and curling his lip,” he said. “I had never seen a deer do anything like that.”
By the time Chad could raise his gun, the deer had stopped behind some trees, and it remained there for more than 10 minutes.
Chad had already convinced himself the buck was going to get away, but then it turned to the left and took a few steps into the open.
A split-second later, it was on the ground.
The 16-pointer has a BTR composite score of 191 6/8 inches, far more antler than the 10-pointer Chad had hoped to shoot.
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This article was published in the Winter 2014 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.