Jacody Downey's pre-season prep paid dividends after getting skunked during the 2022 bow season opening weekend in the Bluegrass State.
When a beautiful buck is active on your trail cameras throughout the summer and you're documenting his growth cycle almost daily, you try your best to make it feel safe and secure.
The 200-acre stand of hardwoods Jacody hunts in Adair County is a sanctuary for early season bucks, but all he could think about was a velvet-clad stud that started showing up regularly on his Tactacam Reveal X Pro with its buddy, a basket-racked 10-pointer noticeably smaller in comparison.
After getting his target buck on camera for the first time last March, Jacody became meticulous about everything. He only changed camera batteries on Mondays at noon, and he had notes on his phone patterning the time of day and how long the buck was feeding. He even tracked the barometric pressure.
"I had never seen this deer in the past. When he showed up in March, you could tell he was going to be a big deer. He had a big base on him, so I knew he was going to stand out," Jacody said. "I thought he was just going to be a wide deer, but then he started putting on P2s and P3s. The P3s on his left side started splitting, and I was thinking, 'Good gosh, he's splitting again.'"
One week before the archery opener, Jacody, in an effort to make them smell like grain, soaked all his hunting clothes, including his briefs, socks and boots, in a bin filled with deer feed. "I'm a freak when it comes to scent," he said. "I don't go out in anything that hasn't been washed or cleaned in some fashion."
Opening weekend, he only hunted afternoons to avoid bumping any deer feeding in the soybean field and bedding areas near his stand. Since mature bucks are already on the brink of changing food patterns in early September, its best to avoid morning interactions altogether and gain the extra hours of sleep.
Jacody's first sit on the year was in a Millennium hang-on stand on the end of a wooded funnel leading to a soybean field. Deer use this section of woods as a corridor and have to walk right past his stand to get to the beans. He laid eyes on the 5x5 mainframe giant just before dark and had a brief window at 25 yards but didn't take the shot.
"I thought I missed my chance, Jacody said. "The big buck showed up Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m., but that afternoon he didn't show up at all. Monday morning, he didn't show again, and I was thinking, ‘Gosh, this is crazy.' He hadn't missed a day since the beginning of July."
Monday was make-or-break in Jacody's mind. "I checked the weather and saw we had a front coming in," he said. "It rained off and on that Monday, and I knew there was a chance that afternoon for it to die down to a light rain or completely stop. I got in there early and told myself, ‘If this deer doesn't show up today, he got spooked and changed his pattern or something.' He hasn't acted like this since I first saw him."
Jacody said seven younger bucks were bouncing all around him that afternoon. Some were fighting while others tried rubbing off their remaining velvet. The rain had died, and a light, north wind was working in Jacody's favor. He had his eyes fixed about 100 yards on a tree line where the buck appeared Saturday when he noticed the basket-racked 10-pointer directly beneath his stand.
"They had been together all summer. If you saw one you saw the other," Jacody said. "After I noticed the basket-rack 10, I immediately started looking for the big deer. I caught some movement and, sure enough, he was right under me, too."
After a few seconds that felt like an eternity, the big buck slightly quartered toward Jacody and presented a 25-yard broadside shot. He drew his new V3X and sent an arrow screaming through the buck's ribcage.
"I started breathing heavy and shaking like a leaf," Jacody recalls. "I shot him right behind the shoulder. He was quartering towards me just a hair, and I caught the lung and liver. It went back out through the gut, and he only went 40-something yards before laying down."
The mainframe 15-pointer has small kickers on his right P2 and two more on his bases. Its velvet had shedded just four days prior.
Buckmasters scorer Dale Weddle will be measuring Jacody's buck soon and will share the details!
— Read Recent Blog! Making Memories: Father-and-son duo, Robbie and Garrett Ammons, outsmarted two mature bucks during Kentucky's 2022 archery opener and have the velvet to prove it.