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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

James Irvine

By Mike Handley

Despite a few outings with his stepfather when James Irvine was a little boy, he didn't become interested in hunting deer until about eight years ago, when he bought his first shotgun. Five years later, when he missed a deer with it, he decided an upgrade was in order and bought a rifle and second-hand muzzleloader.

He finally shot his first deer, a little 6-pointer, with his new 7mm-08 in 2012. He and his buddy, Larry Price, were hunting Kentucky's Barren River Wildlife Management Area, about an hour's drive from James' home in Pulaski County.

The following August, Larry had just left James' house when a huge buck burst across the road 15 yards in front of his truck. The startled driver could only slam on the brakes and stare in disbelief at the huge whitetail, still in velvet.

When James heard about it, he thought better of the 400 acres of mostly bottomland he hunts close to home. He hunted the early muzzleloader and rifle seasons without firing a shot (at a buck), however. He wound up taking a doe off the WMA.

On the opening wet Saturday of Kentucky's late blackpowder season, he went to his favorite pawpaw patch. He braved the cold, but saw nothing. The afternoon was similarly uneventful, though from a different stand.

"On Sunday, it was real cold, somewhere down into the 20s," James told Dale Weddle, who'll be writing the story for Rack magazine. "The wind had changed and wasn't favorable to the stand I hunted the previous morning. So I decided to watch a creek crossing."

Since there wasn't a stand there, James stood beside an old hay bale, shivering as snow began falling.

An hour later, a doe exited the opposing tree line about 250 yards distant, and an enormous buck was a minute or two behind her. She led her suitor straight to the creek crossing James was guarding.

Two pops later - the coup de grace administered while the buck was trying to rise - James was standing over the colossus that had dashed in front of his friend's truck several weeks earlier.

It wound up being the Bluegrass State's new Typical record in the BTR's blackpowder category. Its composite score is 196 4/8 inches.

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