Rack Magazine

The Way to a Buck’s Heart …

The Way to a Buck’s Heart …

By Dale Weddle

Here’s why the raccoons in three Kentucky counties look more like hairy beach balls.

“I probably feed deer more than anybody you could imagine,” Jason Stanford laughed.

“How much do you feed a year, on average?” I asked, sort of casually.

“Probably about 30,000 pounds of corn, at least,” he replied.

“So you’re just saying you feed a lot of corn,” I commented, giving him a chance to retract the amount.

“Yeah, at least 30,000 pounds,” he quickly repeated. “My dad has friends who farm, and we buy it off them. I get a lot of photographs of fat coons.

“We call our group of people who hunt, the Corn Pile Boys,” he added.

“That’s a 3 and four zeroes,” I clarified, still trying to wrap my mind around the number.

This went back and forth a couple more times, and then I finally just left it alone, not completely sure my chain wasn’t being pulled, but thinking I might really have just met the king of all deer feeders.

The area south and east of Louisville, Ky., has been cranking out some monstrous bucks over the past several years. For those hunters who are serious about tagging a trophy whitetail — who are willing to work at it, investing time, effort and money — this hot spot can pay off like a Las Vegas slot machine.

Count Jason Stanford among those folks.

“I have permission to hunt several private farms in Jefferson, Shelby and Oldham counties. It’s Bucks in the ’Burbs, man,” Jason smiled. “This past season, I had the choice of 20 stands. Some were permanent platforms that have been there for years. Others were climbing stands. And I can get from my house to any one of those spots in 15 minutes.

“I absolutely won’t hunt a stand if the wind is wrong, but with that many options, I have something available on any given day,” he added.

Jason has bowhunted since he was 10 years old, but he remembers having caught the bug long before that.

“When I was 4 years old, the only place around where you could hunt deer was Fort Knox,” he said. “My dad and his friends went there, and it just killed me because I couldn’t go along with them.

“Being in the woods has always been my passion. I’m just hardcore, I guess,” he continued. “I mean, I bought 13 acres just to have a place to hunt, and that was before I even bought a house.”

In 1992, when he was 14, Jason took a buck with his bow in Jefferson County that topped 160 inches.

The Way to a Buck’s Heart“I’ve taken some average bucks since that time, but I never could seem to close the deal on a buck of that size again,” he said. 

“All the property around here is becoming developed to the point that it’s pushed the deer into smaller and smaller pockets. That’s one reason I came up with a plan for several different areas to hunt.

“I have cameras on all those spots and, last summer, I finally got this nice buck on film in Shelby County,” he continued. “The deer was on one of the larger farms, a 150-acre tract, so I could move around a little bit if necessary.

“It was almost totally nocturnal, but it was really hitting the corn. During one period, the buck started coming in about every two hours at night. It seemed when the corn started to run out, it would come earlier.

“By the opening of bow season, I had hundreds of photographs of that deer. When I know there is a deer like that in an area I’m going to hunt, I stay out of it as much as possible. I checked my cameras about once a week, and that was it,” he said.

Jason’s setup was near a soybean field, so there was an additional food source in the area. Even so, the big buck seemed to prefer the corn.

When bow season opened in September, Jason began hunting his various locations with a particular eye to the Shelby County site — especially when the wind was right.

“Around the middle of September, I was hunting the stand closest to where I had the big buck on trail cam,” he said.  “About 6:00 in the afternoon, it suddenly came in from the direction opposite where I had expected.

“That area has a predominantly southwest wind, which is what I had set up for, but the buck came in behind me, not from where he was supposed to,” he added.  “It was downwind and quickly left. I’m not sure it winded me, but it didn’t stay around long enough to give me a shot.

“I returned there on Oct. 2, but moved my stand about 80 yards in case the buck approached from downwind again. My father, Tarry, was hunting about 300 yards from me.

“We got into our stands about 4:00 that afternoon. From 4:30 until 6:30, I saw about 15 does and one small 6-pointer,” he said.

“The mosquitoes were terrible. I was swatting those things when, all of a sudden, I saw a buck off in the brush at about 35 yards, looking at me.

“The deer finally decided to move and looked away from me long enough so I could range it: 29 yards, and there was a clear shot to the vitals.

“I still wasn’t sure it was the buck from the trail cam. I just knew it was a wide deer that had caught me off guard, sitting down, but I had my bow in my lap.

“When the deer turned to look at a squirrel that made some noise behind it — quartering away from me — I lifted my bow, drew and put the 30-yard pin on the deer, and then released the arrow.

“The shot flew high and spined it,” he continued.

The deer dropped on the spot, but Jason administered a coup de grace from the ground before calling his father.

“You know … when I shot my last big buck in 1992, people told me it was a deer of a lifetime,” Jason said. “I was kind of haunted by that, hoping it wasn’t so, until I took this one.

“What’s really special is that Dad was along on both hunts, and we got to share the experience,” he continued. “I hope to share that kind of experience with my kids someday.”

Hunter: Jason Stanford
BTR Score: 188 4/8
Compound Bow

– Photos Courtesy Dale Weddle

This article was published in the August 2014 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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