The farming landscape around Bowling Green, Kentucky, is similar in many ways to the picturesque horse farms of Lexington’s Bluegrass country. However, just a few miles to the northwest, the gently rolling terrain begins a gradual changeover from open farmland to scattered woodlots and significant forest acreage. Not surprisingly, this shift in land use and habitat type denotes a corresponding rise in whitetail numbers.
Over the last several years, some whopper whitetails have been taken in counties bordering and to the west of Mammoth Cave National Park. Reports of big deer being sighted or recorded on trail cameras are not uncommon in this area of the state. However, in the fall and winter of 2009, rumors began to surface of a giant 200-inch-plus buck to the south, in western Warren County, only a few miles from Bowling Green. In addition to trail camera photos, a shed antler was found in the spring of 2010 that grossed over 95 inches.
By the time last fall’s deer season rolled around, most landowners and area hunters had heard about the huge deer; however, the buck seemed almost like a phantom with regard to actual sightings. Two local bowhunters, Greg Brown and his son, Hunter, had trail camera photos of the deer, but neither one had encountered the buck in person.
There were no reports of the big deer being sighted during the first seven weeks of the 2010 bow season. However, around the end of October, Hunter was positioned in a treestand along a power line right-of-way, overlooking a bordering field of winter wheat.
“By that point in the season, I had grown a little tired of hearing about the big deer,” Hunter said. “After spending numerous hours in the stand without ever getting a glimpse of the buck, it just didn’t seem like it was going to happen for me.”
As Hunter continued to watch and listen, a young 6-pointer meandered into view and began feeding along the edge of the wheat field. While watching the deer, he was suddenly distracted by a flurry of movement from a nearby hardwood thicket.
“When I turned to look, this monster of a whitetail came out of the brush, walking stiff-legged, with its ears laid back,” Hunter said. “The buck advanced toward the 6-pointer and went through the entire snort-wheeze routine. I was a little surprised at the big deer’s aggressive behavior since I hadn’t observed any major rut activity and there were no does around. Obviously, the small buck didn’t want any part of the confrontation and began to slowly move away.”
During all the action, the concealed archer continued to check the yardage on his rangefinder. However, the big whitetail remained just beyond the 40-yard mark. As much as he wanted to take a shot at the huge deer, Hunter simply wasn’t comfortable with the shooting distance, particularly at such a big deer.
“In the past, I’ve used a bleat can with some success on mature bucks,” Hunter noted. “As the buck began moving away, I decided to try the call a couple of times. In each instance, the big deer would stop and look my way, before continuing on in the opposite direction. It was an awesome experience to watch the buck for several minutes until it finally walked out of sight.”
The bowhunter made a couple of additional trips to the power line location, but the buck never reappeared. Approximately two weeks after the encounter and less than a week before opening weekend of the November gun season, Hunter moved his stand several hundred yards to a wooded ridgetop.
“On a cold, clear morning, I climbed into the stand before daybreak,” Hunter said. “It was a perfect hunting morning with practically no wind. I knew from talking with other hunters that rut activity was definitely on the increase, but by 8:30, I had only seen one small buck. Around that same time, I received a call from my dad, who was hunting in another county. After telling him it had been a disappointing morning, he told me to hang in there, he had just taken a 140-class buck and that deer were really moving.”