posted on October 04, 2010 09:03
By Mike Handley
Because I'm the chief bottle-washer for Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records and editor of Rack magazine (not because I'm an expert), Jackie Bushman once asked me to identify the top techniques and tactics used to collect the nearly 12,000 bucks in our record book. That was the easiest question I've ever answered, and I didn’t have to think about it.
"Luck" gets the credit in almost 90 percent of the cases.
If Jackie had framed the question another way - "What one piece of equipment has put the most money in the pockets of taxidermists?" - grunt calls would've been my instant response. If 40 years of hunting whitetails haven’t taught me that, the thousands of hunters I've interviewed have.
One of those was Geoff Lester, whose Illinois brute is the reigning world-record Perfect in the BTR's compound bow category. His story was a real eye-opener.
Twice the Punch
You could call Geoff, pronounced "Jeff," the Wyatt Urrp of deer hunting. He's the first person I met who carries not one, but two grunt calls in his holster. And the second is NOT a spare.
This guy made deer hunting history during an impromptu afternoon hunt on Oct. 27, 2000. With so little time before dark and no real expectation of seeing deer moving in the 60-degree heat, he decided to push the envelope. It was another one of those what-do-I-have-to-lose gambits.
He routinely carries two different grunt calls with totally different tones. He alternates between them, switching up every 15 minutes or so, in order to sound like multiple bucks.
His O.K. Corral was a 16-foot-high ladder stand overlooking a deer crossing on a dry creek bed. The worn path eventually led to a cut soybean field.
Soon after Geoff began grunting, an 8-pointer ambled onto the scene, hackles raised and spoiling for a fight.
Remember, this was late October - the pre-rut, some might say. Grunting with almost every step, the buck marched along the ridge to the hunter's left, heading downwind. Worried the buck might smell him, Geoff grunted again to either stop or alter its course.
A few minutes later, a much bigger 5x5 made Geoff forget about the first buck.
The huge 10-pointer stopped within 25 yards of the stand and stared at Geoff intently. When the new arrival stepped into a clear lane at 30 yards, the bowstring hummed.
World record status aside, the Lester Buck is one of the finest whitetails ever taken. It's definitely one of my all-time favorites. Ten points - devoid of irregularities - tally 180 3/8 inches, and that doesn't include a 20 1/8-inch inside spread!