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Pennsylvania Trophy Bucks Typical

The Keystone Killer: #3 Pennsylvania Trophy Buck Bowkill

by Barry Kern   |  July 8th, 2011 20

As bowhunters, we enter every season with the hope that fate will smile on us, that this will be the year that we finally put an arrow in the “big one.” We spend hours watching “celebrity” hunters kill mature bucks, wishing that, one day, we’ll have the chance to drop the hammer on a giant buck.

Barry Kern’s Washington County bruiser carried a 5x6 mainframe and netted 175 3/8 as a typical bowkill. Photo courtesy of Barry Kern

On the evening of Oct. 19, 2010, that dream became reality for myself and two of my good friends, Ryan Grandel and Vince Kraft. The three of us set out each year to harvest a mature Pennsylvania trophy buck and to catch all of the action on video. We’ve been filming our hunts for about five years now, and we spend countless hours scouting, monitoring trail cameras and practicing with our bows during the off-season. We spend as much time in the woods as we can.

But as any serious bowhunter knows, not everything goes according to plan. In February 2008, I lost parts of two fingers in an accident at work. The fingers I lost happened to be the third and fourth on my right hand, my shooting hand. Despite the accident and the loss I faced, I was fortunate not to have lost my trigger finger.

To make matters worse, in March 2010, my wife, Fawna, and I were closing in on the purchase of what we hoped would be our dream home, a log cabin nestled in a beautiful Pennsylvania country setting, when the deal went south. We missed out on our dream house.

Instead, Fawna and I found a nice split-level home and were able to get settled just in time for the 2010 Pennsylvania hunting season.

The day before the season opener, Vince and I decided to scout a ridge close to my new home. Our hope was that we’d locate a good spot with easy access for times when we could only accommodate a quick hunt.

Opening day and the rest of the first week of the season found me in another spot dominated with big rubs that looked like they had been made by a mature deer — and possibly a giant. Several days passed and, without even a sighting of a mature buck, I decided to give the spot a break. The following week, Ryan knocked down a serious 142-inch Ohio bruiser while I was filming him.

Vince and I continued hunting hard for the following week with no luck. Having not spotted a single shooter buck yet, we were both beginning to get frustrated.

On the night of October 18, I drove to work at the Enlow Fork Mine, where I was scheduled for a midnight shift. As I was driving, my mind was going through my hunting options for the following day. When my shift ended, I raced home, hoping to catch a few hours of sleep so that I could be back in the woods by afternoon.

Matching 12 1/2-inch G2s and 11 6/8-inch G3s helped push the gross score for Kern’s buck over 189 inches. Photo courtesy of Barry Kern.

My alarm went off at 2:30 p.m., but as anyone who has worked the midnight shift will appreciate, I told myself, Just five more minutes…

I opened my eyes 45 minutes later, immediately angry with myself for oversleeping. I realized that I wouldn’t have enough time to get to the spot where I had seen the huge rubs. I’d have to resort to “Plan B” — hunting the ridge behind my house that Vince and I had scouted for exactly this kind of situation.

I jumped in the shower and washed down with scent eliminating soap, dressed quickly, grabbed my gear out of the garage and hit the road. When I arrived at the spot, I put on my ScentLok camouflage and my rubber boots, sprayed down with scent eliminator and headed into the woods. On the way in, I stopped to check a trail camera I had hung over a few good scrapes earlier in the week. I found photos of a few does and a nice, 125-class 10-pointer.

Maybe I’ll see that 10-pointer tonight, I thought, as I continued toward my stand setup.

As I approached my setup, I sprayed some Tink’s Power Scrape on a different scrape that appeared to have being used more than the others in the area, and then I hooked my climber up to a nearby tree and began climbing.

Kern’s buck is one of only three bucks from Washington County listed in the top 100 typical entries in the Pope & Young record book. Photo courtesy of Barry Kern.

Once I got settled in, I attached my video camera to the bow mount that we had been testing and let the woods settle down. Around 4:30 p.m., I decided to do a rattling sequence with some grunts mixed in, knowing that the season was approaching the height of the pre-rut. Not long after I rattled, a 5-pointer appeared to my left. He browsed around my tree for a few minutes and walked off into the thicket.

After letting the woods calm down again, I repeated the same rattling and grunting sequence and immediately saw movement in the same thicket. I was expecting to see the same 5-pointer walk out, but to my surprise, a nice 2 1/2-year-old 9-pointer busted out of the thicket, aggressively thrashing saplings as he walked past my stand and down the hill.

Things were finally starting to heat up, and I looked to the sky and thought, Lord, please let me see a giant buck tonight.

I sat down and took a drink of water, trying to relax after my encounter with the 9-pointer. With the sun fading to my back, I knew the evening was coming to a close. Around 6 p.m., I decided to hit the rattle bag one more time.

Not long after the calling sequence, I scanned the woods and caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked up and immediately saw antler.

I grabbed my bow, turned on the video camera and stood up. I gave the deer a few minutes to see how he was behaving. Being that he seemed calm, I softly grunted a few times and watched as his left ear twitched. He turned toward me and began to move in my direction.

The buck was directly downwind of me, and the first thing I thought was that he would bust me. As he closed the distance, I knew that my attention to scent elimination was paying off. I began to get ready for the shot, not knowing what he might do next.

Suddenly, he locked onto the scrape where I had sprayed the Tink’s Power Scrape before getting into my stand. He stood over the scrape, smelling and licking the overhanging branches and urinating down his back legs.  He was pawing and scraping at the dirt, and I had to keep looking down to make sure I was still standing on the tree stand platform.

After what seemed like an eternity, the buck turned and began walking past a big oak tree. I drew my bow as he stepped into the clearing, and I softly grunted with my mouth to stop him.

I released the arrow from my Mathews bow and heard a soft thump as the broadhead made impact and sliced through the buck’s vitals. He did a mule kick and ran about 20 yards down the hill before stopping in a small opening. He looked back up the hill and began to do the drunken two-step that bowhunters love to see. With a crash, he hit the dirt, and I knew I had just killed my biggest buck ever!

I turned my bow around and tried to talk into the camera, but I was so choked up I could barely talk. After I calmed down, I described the shot and the feeling I had when the buck went down. Then I turned off the camera, picked up my phone and began burning up the phone lines.

Thinking I had just shot a 150-inch 10-pointer, I climbed down the tree and started to film the recovery. As I got closer to the buck, there was definitely no ground shrinkage. In fact, he seemed to get bigger as I approached. I knew this was definitely bigger than a 160-class buck. He was not only a 10-pointer, but he also sported double brow tines, a kicker off the right G-2 and a G-5 on the right antler. After checking the buck out and tagging him, I waited for Ryan and Fawna to arrive to help me get him back to the house. After Vince arrived, we got out the measuring tape to see exactly how big this buck was. We couldn’t believe our eyes; this buck was potentially a new state record.

Following the 60-day drying period, my buck was scored by Pope & Young measurer George Block at his house on video. After George was done measuring the buck and adding up the final score, he congratulated me on having shot the new No. 3 typical bowkill in Pennsylvania!

George said that my buck was the biggest typical he had measured in the last 14 years, and that he believed it was the biggest typical to be shot on film with a gun or a bow in Pennsylvania history.

My buck’s rack had astonishing numbers, with 26- and 27-inch main beams, matching 12 1/2-inch G2s and matching 11 6/8-inch G3s, along with a 20 1/2-inch inside spread. My buck’s score came to 189 2/8 inches gross and 175 3/8 inches net. If not for the buck’s abnormal points, as a 11-point main frame he would net a final score around 186 and would have surpassed the No. 1 spot by 8 inches, which goes to show how magnificent this true giant is.

(Editor’s Note: For information on purchasing a replica of Barry Kern’s No. 2 typical Pennsylvania bowkill, email blk_bowhunter@yahoo.com.)

  • Jamie baker

    Nice buck, several years ago pennsylvania changed the way they hunt deer and its been slowly paying off for the hunter in that state!!!!

  • Etxbuckman

    Looks like PA's antler restrictions are starting to pay dividends. That is a fantastic deer. Congratulations to you!

  • Robert Rogers

    Great buck and story! I can't wait to hit Penns woods again this year. PA's antler restriction is paying off. I shot the best buck of my life in the 2010 season and each year gets better. Happy hunting to all.

  • Mark

    congrats that is a great trophy, I'm glad to hear that other people are passing young buck and waiting for mature buck here in PA. keep up the great work!

  • hunt7777

    WOW-Congratulations. Sounds like you earned it.Put your time in. Good luck this year.

  • dewayne

    wow,awesome buck n story 4sure…wish where im from here in Florida,they do that,i got a nice 9pt,2009…they now saying only shoot bucks with at leasts 3pts on one side,lol…of course are deer dont get that big as up north,good luck to all hunters for 2011 hunting season

  • ScottDev

    Nice Buck! Yes, my home state has gotten it right. Good deer management and patience will always pay off in the long run.

  • mike

    great buck you put your time in you surely earn that buck hope you have more success in the future . nice to see a good ole boy kill a great buck like that . tired of reading about those so called pro hunter hand raised deer they shoot .

  • Garrett Henry

    Where can I find the video of the hunt? Really wanna see that. Congrats

  • Dingo

    Awesome buck, Congrats! I shot a 140" 10 point this season in Allegheny county, SW PA is producing some nice bucks.

  • Dennis A. McDade

    Thats a sure enough fine Buck.I have been to Washington County,but never hunted there.Congrats!

  • Jesse Maruschak

    Way to get it done in the Keystone State! It is deer like this that are helping PA climb in the ranks of the big deer states.

  • savage

    Great deer barry! I live in pgh and shot a 165" gross typical 11 pt buck in allegheny co. to show pa is #5 state for giants this year in the country! Congrats !

  • Black Dog Hollow

    Barry, What did the deer age? I hunted a deer in Washington County in 2007-08 that looks quite similar to this one! I never saw him at the thru the end of the season in 09 and figured he got slammed in gun season. So in 09 I only hunted the woods twice with no success and moved on to a big deer a little closer to home.

  • travis miller

    nice one congrats i shot a 10 point that weighed 275 with a 21 inch spread

  • Kurt Williamson

    I'm with Garrett, I'm sure we all want to see the video! Youtube it please :)

  • kookee01

    In contrast to a rifle hunter, who may shoot effectively from ranges in excess of 600 yards (550 m); archers usually restrict shots to 2.3 yards (2.1 m) to 42 yards (38 m).-Dr. Paul Perito

  • Big Buck Hunter123

    nice buck, Imiised a buck like that last season(2011)

  • bob lorigan

    can't eat the rack its too bad this stupid law is still in effect i had to let deer pass by that would have been legal couple years ago i hunt for the meat rack don't do me any good. probably not hunt any more after this year too bad the game commision has to ruin everything for those hunters who go for the meat i know alot of people who quit hunting because of the restrictions i started hunting again 2 yrs ago wanted to try again its too hard to determine 99% of the time if its a legal buck. so i can say i tried it there way just not worth the hassle hopefully more people will quit and someday go back to shooting when a buck is a buck and a doe is a doe.

    • PLEASE PASS ON YOUNG BUCKS

      SO SHOOT A DOE OR TWO, THERE ARE PLENTY OF TAGS FOR DOES IN EVERY COUNTY, CULLING DOES IS ACTUALLY GOOD FOR THE DEER POPULATION, LETTING BUCKS MATURE INSURES THAT THE OLDER BUCKS DO MORE OF BREEDING. HARVEST DOES IF YOU DONT LIKE THE WAY ANTLERS TASTE, BUT YOUR PROBABLY A WEEKEND WARIOR WHO DOESNT PUT IN THE TIME IT TAKES TO GET CLOSE UP ON MATURE BUCKS!

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