To J.T. Kreager, almost every buck has a familiar face.
Calling J.T. Kreager lucky within earshot of anyone who knows him would be like waking to discover you’ve inadvertently Tweeted photographs of your underwear to Oprah. You’re going to be left red-faced.
Yes, the Ohio bowhunter was in the right place at the right time to put an arrow through a world-class whitetail last season. The hunt was short and sweet, ending his season just two days out of the chute — the first of which was spent beside his 11-year-old daughter as she drilled her second deer.
But the guy didn’t spin a bottle or roll a dice. He didn’t walk to the nearest stand in street clothes with a banged-up bow after frying bacon or pumping gas. The deer’s face wasn’t in a bucket of apples, and there was nobody driving deer toward him.
J.T. knew which of many stands on many farms offered the best chance at a giant during the unseasonable (and much hoped for) northeasterly wind. It happened to be one he’d hung at his most recent acquisition, which had yielded many photographs of the wide-racked buck he most wanted.
Co-owner of a small manufacturing company in Delaware, Ohio, and the man behind three hunting-oriented websites, J.T. has plenty of time to pursue whitetails in the fall, and he’s almost fanatical about it. His obsession with scent control — wind, showers, sprays and Scent-Lok — borders on OCD, and he amasses hunting rights by knocking on more doors than a candidate for city council.
“Over the past several years, I’ve been fortunate to gain permission to hunt several properties in Delaware and surrounding counties,” he said. “I’m always on the lookout for promising places.
“Having several tracts provides opportunities to hunt multiple bucks and setups for different weather conditions. I don’t like to put all my eggs in one basket,” he added. “It takes a lot of time and effort to gain permission from several landowners, but it’s worth it.”
His taxidermist would agree.
By summer’s end in 2010, J.T. had amassed photographs from seven Moultrie trail cameras in four different counties. One buck stood head and shoulders above the rest, and it was roaming the farm to which he’d just gained access.
He heard about the property from a buddy. The first time he scouted it, he found where deer were regularly crossing a fence and put out a camera and mineral lick to see what was passing through there. The photos revealed that deer were feeding in a nearby hay field and bedding in a thicket.
“I guess my instincts were right about that farm and the fencerow,” he said. “By May, my trail camera was getting pictures of deer moving in both directions. And in June, I got my first pictures of this buck. It had just two huge main beams and brow tines at the time. From that point on, I was able to document its phenomenal antler growth.”
J.T. put two stands near the fence crossing to accommodate different winds. He hung a third overlooking a main deer trail between the feeding and bedding areas, thinking it was probably going to be a late-season spot.
He wanted that deer.
All he needed was the perfect wind, which came with the advance of a cold front on Sunday afternoon, the day after his daughter shot her deer.
“I was very anxious for a chance at this buck,” J.T. said. “I got out earlier than usual, probably between 2:00 and 2:30, climbed into my stand, and then hauled up all my gear. I was about 20 feet up a pretty substantial tree, which was very steady.
“It was a perfect day — just a light breeze — to sit in a tree. I could hear any activity around me,” he continued. “It was a peaceful afternoon with virtually no deer activity until after 6:00.”
That’s when zero deer turned into five or six, all does, heading for the hay field. After passing within 15 yards of J.T.’s tree, they stopped before crossing the fence, and then all turned to look behind them.
“I immediately shifted my gaze back to the thicket and saw another deer in there,” he said. “It took maybe a minute before I was able to confirm it was the big 10-pointer I wanted. The buck slowly moved into the open woods and was quartering away from me at about 30 yards.
“In a few moments, it moved behind more thick cover, giving me the opportunity to draw. The buck reappeared just where I expected it, but then it passed through the shooting lane too quickly,” he added.
Fortunately for J.T., the buck turned onto the trail the does had followed, which brought it to within 15 yards as well. After the thwack, it jumped the fence and ran 50 yards into the hay field, where it collapsed and died.
Except for an unmeasurable burr point and a 16/8-inch-long point at the base of the right P3, the buck is an otherwise clean 10-pointer. The one irregular point isn’t long enough to kick the rack into the typical category, so it remains a Perfect, the third best ever arrowed in Ohio.
Official Score: 172
Composite Score: 196 4/8
– Photos Courtesy of J.T. Kreager
This article was published in the November 2011 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.