Rack Magazine

No Walk in the Park

No Walk in the Park

By Dale Weddle

The road to the taxidermist is sometimes pocked with potholes.

If a relative shoots the buck you’ve been bowhunting, and then a power line crew armed with chainsaws moves in right on top of your hunting spot, would you chalk it up as a busted season?

Jeff Osborne thought about it, but he just couldn’t bear spending Kentucky’s 2013 rifle season indoors, a decision that gave him finger cramps from sending text messages on Nov. 13, and one that’s going to cost him the price of a shoulder mount.

The Owenton, Ky., hunter is fortunate to be able to hunt Owen County, for several years now the state’s top yielder of deer. And it’s not just known for numbers, since it also yields some of the Bluegrass State’s biggest bucks.

Jeff’s own deer boosted both totals last season.

“My best whitetail prior to 2013 was a 140-class buck in velvet I took with my bow,” Jeff said. “Our county has been good in the past, and it’s going to get even better. During the last several years, we’ve seen an agricultural transition from tobacco to corn and grain. That’s going to make the hunting better, in my opinion.”

Jeff and his cousin, Josh Perkins, hunt several family farms. The one Jeff had in mind for rifle season belongs to a farmer he helps. The guy keeps cows in there during the summer, but he usually moves them out in the fall.

“When the early muzzleloader season came in, I almost shot a real nice 8-pointer,” he said. “After that weekend, I went back to hunting with my bow. I saw the same buck three more times, but just couldn’t seal the deal because it always winded me.

“Finally, the week before gun season, I bowhunted on a foggy and windy Tuesday. I don’t know why I even went hunting that day. I ended up missing the 8-pointer, the only shooter I saw that week,” he said.

“When the modern firearms season opened, I hunted a spot where I knew there were deer, but I didn’t see a single one all day,” Jeff said.

On Sunday, he decided to accompany an aunt, who had just started hunting four years earlier. She killed bucks the first two years, and then passed up several smaller ones, waiting on a good one to present itself.

“We decided to hunt together Sunday morning to see if we could get her a nice buck,” Jeff said. “We had seen 10 deer by the time the big 8-pointer, the same one I’d been hunting with my bow, the one I’d missed, came into range.

“That’s the one she shot. Wouldn’t you know it? We had actually had a conversation about her shooting it if it came along, never dreaming it might happen,” he said.

On Monday, after all the weekend warriors had gone back to work, Jeff had the woods to himself. He headed out before daylight to hunt the farm that had held cows during the summer, the spot he’d saved just for rifle season.

No Walk in the Park“I got out there and found a good spot,” Jeff said. “It was a beautiful morning.

“About 8:00, things were just getting good. Deer were moving, and I had seen several. That’s when the crew came in and started working to clear the power line. It looked like they were going to be there awhile, and trying to hunt around all that noise and commotion was going to be impossible.

“That afternoon, I went to hunt another farm. I walked out this mile-long ridge all the way to the end. I didn’t want to pack a stand that far and was just going to find a good vantage spot, set up on the ground and see what would happen. By dark, I had seen 14 does and two little bucks. I liked that spot. And best of all, it was quiet.

“On Tuesday morning, I went back out to the same little humpback ridge. It had draws coming off of it, and, out at the end, it overlooked an old cow pasture. I saw probably a dozen deer, including three or four little bucks.

“The pasture had ladino clover in it, which the deer were eating. There was also a hedge apple tree that was just loaded, and I watched deer eat those for a while.

“I hunted the afternoon and saw about the same amount of deer, including five small bucks. Every one of the bucks that came along when the does were feeding would just sort of bust through them like they were scent-checking, not really chasing, but just looking for a hot doe,” he said.

Wednesday morning found the hunter back in the same place.

“I hunted until around 11 o’clock and saw basically the same deer,” Jeff said. “After that, I had to leave and go pick up some feed for my aunt’s horses. While I was out, I went back and checked the farm that I had originally wanted to hunt, but the power line crew was still working there.

“I still had confidence in the spot I was in because of the many does I was seeing. So by 1:30, I had taken care of business and hiked back out the ridge and sat down. It was about 10 minutes past 2:00.

“It was just a quiet time during early afternoon when you’re not really expecting a lot of deer movement. After about 10 minutes of text messaging, I looked up and saw this huge buck all by itself.

“It appeared almost out of nowhere, walking up out of the main hollow toward the ridge. As it went over this little hump, I was sitting down and couldn’t see it anymore. I stood up and could feel buck fever coming over me as I got a better look at the animal.

“The deer had a good-sized body and a massive, wide rack. I got the .300 Win Mag up, found the buck in the scope, shot and missed. At the boom, it just looked around before going about its business — not what I expected, but that was okay by me.

“It was walking, not running.

“When it approached a cedar tree, I put my scope on the other side and tried to calm my nerves. When it walked out, I centered the crosshairs on the deer’s chest, squeezed the trigger, and it dropped in its tracks.

“When I walked up to the buck, I first thought I was looking at limbs on the dead cedar next to it. Then I realized I was seeing points on the rack and I nearly went into panic mode,” he added. “I had dropped my phone when the deer came over, so I ran back and started texting friends, telling them I had just shot a 160-inch deer (make that 182 5/8 with the spread).”

Hunter: Jeff Osborne
BTR Score: 182 5/8”
Centerfire Rifle

– Photos Courtesy Jeff Osborne

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

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