Recurve Fever in Massachusetts
September 22, 2010
On the heels of a new state-record non-typical being taken by a recurve bow in 2005, Paul Buccacio brought down a new state-record typical with his Hoyt recurve last season.
Frustrated at himself for missing a shot at a smaller buck from his tree stand, Paul was leaving the woods early when this 14-point monster showed up. Paul was on the ground with his tree stand on his back when he made a perfect 10-yard shot.
In 2005 Massachusetts deer hunter Larry Beestka took the state's new archery non-typical record buck with a traditional bow in Worcester County (See North American Whitetail's "Awesome Whitetails 6," published in December 2006). The 178 0/8-inch 14-point buck was big news, particularly because so few hunters today use traditional archery equipment. With the speed, accuracy and forgiveness of single-cam compound bows made by manufacturers like Mathews, most hunters would not even dream of using a traditional recurve or long bow for whitetails.
So what would be the odds that yet another new state record (this time a typical) would be taken with a traditional recurve in Worcester County just one year after Larry shot his record non-typical buck? Regardless of the odds, it happened in 2006. And you can be assured of one thing -- there is nothing "traditional" about the story behind this great buck: The hunter, Paul Buccacio, shot his buck from the ground with his tree stand strapped to his back. And all of this happened after he missed a shot at a smaller buck.
BECOMING A DEER HUNTER
Paul Buccacio has been hunting since he was about 20 years old. Early in his hunting career, while helping a friend drag a buck out of the woods, the two men spotted another buck. With his tree stand on his back, Paul took aim and fired, and the buck dropped in its tracks. This was an incredible start to an enjoyable hunting career. What's more, this would not be the only buck he ever shot with a tree stand on his back! When Paul got out of the Marines in 1999, he shot his first deer with a bow. After that season he took at least one deer a year with his bow, and he was hooked on bowhunting for life. In fact, his love for bowhunting eventually led him to start shooting a traditional recurve bow. In March 2006 he purchased a Hoyt recurve, but he didn't plan to hunt with it during the '06 season. He simply wanted to shoot it for the pure fun of it. He practiced with it as much as possible and then something happened. He became so comfortable with his Hoyt recurve that he decided he would try hunting with it. As he entered the woods in Worcester County, Massachusetts, on Oct. 23, 2006, he had no way of knowing that he would soon be making bowhunting history.
IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED'¦
Paul arrived at his hunting spot around 3:30 in the afternoon and headed toward a well-traveled trail. The trail was full of fresh tracks and deer droppings, and Paul was pumped by all the fresh sign. He continued down the trail, looking for a tree large enough to support his climber. He located a suitable tree near several intersecting trails. The wind was favorable and the cover was good for an ambush. Paul was set up before 4 o'clock, and he felt very confident about the area and the prospects for the day.
It was a very cool fall day with light winds and a clear sky. The leaves and acorns were still falling from the young oaks. The leaves on the ground were crunchy, but the wind was enough to mask the sound of an approaching deer, so Paul was very alert.
Just after 5 p.m. he heard a deer approaching from behind on his left side. The wind was blowing in the opposite direction so the deer could not detect his scent. An unusually large 4-point buck stepped into view, and Paul couldn't believe the size of the deer or his antlers.
The buck was approaching slowly and appeared very relaxed, unaware that a hunter was lurking above. Paul decided he would take this awesome 4-point if given the opportunity. He would be thrilled to have this deer as his first buck by recurve bow. However, buck fever took over momentarily and he was unable to control his emotions until the deer got past him.
As the buck was quartering away at about 25 yards, Paul drew back and took aim. The arrow flew perfectly straight toward the buck but ducked just under the deer's belly, throwing up a spark from a rock in the process. The deer jumped and looked around, wondering what had caused the noise. Then the buck continued on down the trail and disappeared.
Greatly disappointed in his performance, the dejected hunter climbed down from his stand and walked over to confirm the miss. Then, with a good half hour of hunting time left before dark, he packed up his gear and his tree stand and headed out of the woods. That's how upset he was for missing the buck.
While following the deer path out of the woods, Paul suddenly heard the crunching of leaves. This was followed by several distinct grunts. Paul stopped and stood close to a large tree in order to hide himself if the deer decided to come his way. Paul then let out his own grunt. He heard the deer weaving back and forth through the woods as it came toward him, grunting the entire time.
Paul's heart started pounding and the deer kept coming closer. Paul was astounded that the deer was actually coming toward the sound of his voice grunt. When the massive buck came into view, Paul could see a huge set of antlers. He tried to keep his composure and wait for the deer to get perfectly broadside. As luck would have it, the monster buck got within a mere 10 yards and turned broadside. With his tree stand still on his back, Paul aimed and drew back his bow.
The enormous buck turned slightly toward Paul as the hunter let the arrow fly toward the base of the deer's neck. The arrow penetrated the buck's vitals as it came out the opposite shoulder. The surprised buck bolted with his tail tucked tightly down. Paul watched as the buck ran about 30 yards with his tail now waving up and down. The deer ran out of sight, and then Paul heard a loud thud. The leaves rustled for a moment, and then there was total silence. Silence, that is, except for the sound of Paul's pounding heart!
AN UNEASY RECOVERY
Paul collected himself. He knew he had made a good hit, but he also felt that he should vacate the area and let the buck expire. With his heart pounding and his mind racing, Paul headed for his truck with the intention of getting some help. Unfortunately, none of his friends were immediately available. Too anxious to wait, Paul headed back to the woods alone. He knew that if he could just locate his buck, he could get help later with dragging the buck out.
He went back to the spot where the deer had been standing and started looking for a blood trail. By now it was totally dark. Paul searched for an hour and found nothing. He decided to start l
ooking in the area where the buck had been headed. Paul's roller-coaster emotions went from low to high as he picked up a blood trail. Then, 60 yards from where the buck had been hit, Paul found his once-in a-lifetime trophy on the ground.
The elated hunter could not believe the size of this deer. It was truly a monster. Full of excitement and awe, he could not bring himself to leave the animal alone again. So he decided to make use of the adrenaline flowing through his body and drag the big buck out by himself. There was no way he was going to leave it there in the dark! After manhandling the buck out of the woods and into his truck, Paul drove home to show his girlfriend and her mother. He then made phone calls to all of his friends to tell them the news.
TWO-WAY B&C QUALIFIER
As a typical 5x5 with 2 abnormal sticker points on each side, Paul's buck grossed 185 7/8 and netted 172 1/8 typical B&C points. It's a new state-record typical archery buck for Massachusetts, replacing the Mark Thomas buck, taken in Norfolk County in 2005. (Mark's buck grossed 175 6/8 and netted 163 7/8.) Interestingly enough, with a gross non-typical score of 194 1/8 and a net score of 188 5/8, Paul's buck could have been entered as a non-typical, and it would have been a Massachusetts state record in that category instead of the typical category.
However, 180-class typical bucks are very rare in the Northeast. In fact, only three archery deer are listed in the NBBC records that gross over 180 inches as typical bucks. When you consider all hunter-harvested bucks by both firearms and bows, fewer than 10 gross over 185 inches. Paul's buck is actually the largest archery typical ever taken anywhere in New England. Semper fi, Paul!
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
The Northeast Big Buck Club recently published its fifth record book -- Northeast Trophy Whitetails V. This 336-page hard-cover collector's item includes nearly 6,000 whitetail entries with hundreds of photos from across New England and New York. To order your copy, contact the NBBC at (508) 752-8762 or visit www.bigbucksclub.com.