By Mike Handley
If anyone had asked me five years ago to “blog” about whitetails, I would’ve looked at them as if their teeth were full of green beans.
Admittedly, I’m a little slow to embrace technology. I have the simplest cell phone available, and I rarely even use it. I consider “text” a noun, not a verb. And “tweet” is a sound a bird makes.
Troglodyte that I am, my quiver still carries Easton’s finest aluminum. I don’t know how fast my bow shoots or what my arrows weigh; I just know they’ll knock the wind out of a deer ... permanently. My Model 700 in .30-06 — the same rifle I’ve carried for the past 15 or 16 years — likes 165-grainers, and I fall in and out of love with bullet designs based on a buck’s deadness.
I’m coming around, though, like a whitetail circling downwind to sniff the breeze. A MySpace account came first, followed by facebook. And now I’m a blogger.
The numbers in “Big Buck 411” play off the old habit of dialing 4-1-1 for directory assistance. It’s our promise to deliver information about North America’s most bodacious whitetails, the states that yield them, hunters who shoot them, and the methods employed to bring these animals to ground.
My goal is to dish up a weekly column that addresses big bucks in the news, those ground out by the rumor mills, tips from hunters who have the bone to prove their mettle and other interesting and useful information that can be gleaned from the nearly 12,000 whitetails in our record book. I say weekly, but it could very well be more often than that. Thanks to the immediacy of the Internet, we’re now able to post breaking news (which is impossible to do in our magazines).
That’s one reason it might be a good idea to sign up for the Big Buck 411 e-mail, to make sure you don’t miss a new post. I want followers to be able to say they saw it here first. I bring my philosophy behind the wildly popular Rack magazine to bear here as well: If I can’t be first, I’ll do it better.
The blog is but one small part of our new Big Buck Central area, where size matters and the eye candy’s cheap. This is the heart of buckmasters.com, where only world-class deer are spotlighted. We’ll have a buck of the day, chosen from the most current entries; a couple of stories about monster whitetails; and a completely searchable database containing every deer in our record book.
Play around with the interactive map and search functions. You’ll find state records at a glance, photos and even stories of some of the finest whitetails ever taken.
That I live and breathe, hope to shoot, measure and catalog these animals is why you’re looking at my mug and byline under the Big Buck 411 blog.
My fate was sealed in 1977, when I wrote my very first essay about a deer hunt foiled by a noisy armadillo. That was followed by a term paper chronicling the whitetail rut. Both were given high marks.
Three years later, at the end of my freshman year of college, I took a job as a cub reporter for a weekly newspaper. I was named editor five months later — the youngest in Alabama history — and became publisher in the early 1990s, when I also started a hook-and-bullet tabloid known as “The Sportsman’s Journal.”
Tired of writing paychecks and eager to write more stories, I took the helm of a daily newspaper’s outdoors page and monthly tabloid in 1992. Six years later, I joined Jackie Bushman’s team to help launch Rack magazine and take over Beards & Spurs, our turkey hunting magazine (we’ve since decided to hang up the spurs).
Because I’ve been the point man for all things obscenely antlered, it was only natural that I also became the poobah of Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records. This position gives me immediate access to the cream of the crop.
Merely being able to write, however, doesn’t necessarily qualify me to gain your trust. Three decades in the publishing business is a long time, but it means nothing if I don’t know deer. And I do. I’ve fooled and been fooled by them since 1970 — a 40-year love affair that hasn’t lost its spark.
When I’m not hunting whitetails, I’m writing about, scoring or painting them. Right now, like you, I’m counting the days!