Sometimes Plan B works out even better than Plan A.
At first glance, Joe Lacefield’s 2012 buck might appear to sport identical foot-long drop tines on a 4x4 mainframe. That’s exactly what Joe, a B&C measurer and wildlife biologist with the state of Kentucky, thought when he peered at the dying animal through his binoculars.
Actually, however, the deer’s main beams droop downward. And even with the addition of a kicker off its left P2, it qualifies as a Typical, which makes it the runner-up to the world longbow record in Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records.
Joe has taken more than a dozen whitetails with his stickbow since relinquishing cams and peep sight. None rival the buck he skewered on the second day of Kentucky’s 2012 archery season.
He set the bar that year after pulling numerous trail camera images of a clean 5x5 he thought would tally 165 inches.
The wind wasn’t right for him to visit the 5x5’s farm on Sept. 1 (opening day), so he hunted his second favorite stand and passed up another 10-pointer that would’ve caused most bowhunters to salivate.
“I just couldn’t make myself shoot it,” he said. “If I really have to convince myself to take the shot, then I just won’t. If my heart starts racing, then I don’t have to do any convincing.”
That afternoon, he hunted his most-wanted buck.
“Sunday morning, conditions were again right for me to pursue the target buck from my best stand,” he said. “Then my brother called to let me know that someone had shot a buck on the adjacent farm Saturday evening, and they’d been out searching the woods very late.”
The news prompted Joe to ditch his plan and go to another stand in a woodlot atop a bluff overlooking the Kentucky River.
“It was 70 degrees at 5 a.m. I gathered up my pack, my water bottle, my ThermaCELL and my longbow and began a sweaty trek through the woods,” he said.
He heard deer moving through the dark woods almost immediately after settling into the cedar tree. When dawn broke, three young bucks – still in in velvet – were feeding almost underneath him. When they moved out of range, a big doe – venison on the hoof – eased into the tableau.
“Really hoping to get a shot at her, I stood and got ready,” Joe said. “I tried many times to draw on her, but she never presented a clean shot. And, eventually, she was out of range.”
The same thing happened with another doe a short while later.
“When the second one wandered off, I sat back down and drank some water,” he said, adding that he’d been too busy watching deer to even think about hoisting the bottle before that point.
A few minutes after a tree fell and a turkey gobbled in the distance, Joe was watching a third doe when he heard a twig snap.
“I looked over my left shoulder and saw a buck with 12- to 13-inch tines, partially covered in velvet, with bloody strips hanging down like tinsel. It was already within 20 yards of my stand,” he said.
“I rose quietly, readied my bow and started the slow turn to my left. As I came around, there was no sign of the buck. It had changed direction and was now passing directly behind my stand,” he added. “I had to turn all the way back to my right to get on it.”
The buck was at a mere 10 yards and quartering away when Joe drew and released. The arrow hit behind the ribs and angled straight through the vitals. But the buck didn’t flinch; didn’t kick; and didn’t run. It just kept walking.
Taken aback at the lack of a reaction from the buck, Joe nocked a second Muzzy-tipped arrow and waited for the it to pass through a clear lane. When it turned broadside at almost 50 yards, Joe got the window he needed and launched a second arrow.
“I thought I probably hit the shoulder blade because there was very little penetration at that distance,” he said. “The buck just stood there, looking around, although it did seem to stagger slightly while I nocked arrow No. 3.”
That shot flew wide, however, and the arrow clattered from one tree branch to another on its way to the ground. Joe halfway expected the commotion to send the deer into another zip code. He was stunned when the buck just tipped over onto its side.
The Woodford County specimen has a BTR composite score of 169 1/8 inches.
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This article was published in the October 2014 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Subscribe today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.