July 19, 2022
By Josh Bias
BREAKING NEWS BUCK
Jamie Ferguson’s journey to take the buck of his lifetime started in 2020, when a friend messaged and asked if he still had permission to hunt a particular piece of land. The property is located in Lawrence County, Ohio — a special place for trophy whitetails nestled in the south-central part of the state, bordering both Kentucky and West Virginia. Jamie’s affirmative reply prompted the friend to text a picture message of an enormous non-typical that had been spotted in the area. Jamie’s interest was instantly piqued.
The deer was phenomenal and everything you could want in a non-typical buck. Jamie knew right away that he needed to spend more time on that piece of land. He decided to move some trail cameras around in attempt to locate the massive buck.
Right off the bat, Jamie didn’t get any photos of the big buck. He learned this was a very different kind of deer, one that at first seemed to have a reclusive personality and no “normal” movement pattern. Jamie tried to locate the buck’s fall travel routes, wondering when and where the deer moved through the local terrain.
However, the hard-to-pattern buck would sometimes defy logic and stand in a bean field for hours and let passerby cars stop so people could snap photos and videos of him. Now, granted, most of this laid-back behavior occurred in summer. But it also happened in the fall a few times, making Jamie nervous the buck was too visible and could fall victim to poaching.
In fact, people from as far away as North Carolina and Virginia would travel to get photos of this buck, earning him the title of “Tri-State Legend.”
Learning About the Legend
As the deer’s popularity continued to grow amongst the public, Jamie still didn’t know a lot about the giant’s whereabouts and pattern. Apart from knowing the buck existed, the hunter didn’t have much information to go off. As such, he was getting frustrated. To complicate matters, during the 2020 season several other hunters captured trail camera photos of the buck, very close to where Jamie was hunting and running cameras.
After that hunting season ended, rumors started swirling about how many people were hunting this incredible whitetail. The word on the street was that multiple hunters had even missed the deer — or at least everyone thought they had. Perhaps the rumors were true, as the buck basically vanished from everyone’s trail cameras soon after.
Everyone feared the worst: that indeed the buck had been mortally wounded and was unrecovered. To Jamie’s knowledge, no shed antlers were found. He wondered: Had the buck been hit and succumbed to injuries? Or was he was just wintering elsewhere?
Let’s fast forward to the 2021 hunting season. Hoping the giant buck was still alive, Jamie picked up permission to hunt another property in the area, which was great for him. He felt the new farm was closer to the buck’s home range and core area.
And it didn’t take long for that hunch to have credibility! One summer evening, Jamie and a friend were out scouting from the truck, glassing bean fields. They stopped to glass a nice 3 1/2-year-old buck close to the property Jamie had just gotten permission to hunt. What happened next was astonishing. Out stepped the biggest buck either of these guys had ever seen. It was the Tri-State Legend.
The Legend Lives On
Jamie snapped a few great pics of the giant, and then it was time to start formulating a plan to get him killed. The season was getting close. Up until this point, Jamie had stayed off the new property, trying to keep human disturbance low. He didn’t want to risk pushing the buck out of the area, just in case he was there. That likely proved to be the best decision this hunter ever made.
But when Jamie confirmed the buck was living on the property, he knew it would be crucial to hold the deer there. He decided to put some bait and minerals out, and he also placed numerous trail cams on those sites as well as the trails that led back from the bean field. Jamie’s plan was to intercept the buck as it traveled from the fields back into the timber, if possible.
It didn’t take long for the first pics of the monster whitetail to start coming in! And soon, Jamie was getting tons of them. He would at times get photos of the buck four or five times a day at a mineral or feed site. What’s better is that a fair share of these pics were taken in daylight, which gave Jamie a lot of confidence that he’d be able to kill the buck when hunting season opened.
Jamie knew he’d found the big non-typical buck’s bedroom. However, as the hunting season drew closer, as a lot of deer do, the buck vanished. In fact, the buck stayed away from Jamie’s cameras for 30 days exactly. When the buck finally returned, it ended up being just for one night, when one single photo showed the buck cruising through the area.
Hunting the Tri-State Legend
Anxious to hunt, but sure the buck wasn’t using the new property, Jamie started hunting the property he had the year before. At this point, he started thinking hard about taking another mature buck that hung out on that tract. Afterall, there was no guarantee the Legend would return. Jamie thought: Should I punch my tag on another big whitetail instead?
Then on Nov. 15, the massive buck showed back up on one of Jamie’s cellular trail cameras working a scrape. The buck was without a doe, so Jamie knew he had a short window to get this deal done.
Jamie checked his OnX Hunt app to get an idea what the weather would be for the next few days. OnX showed that the wind was going to be wrong for this stand the next morning, so Jamie once again hunted his original property. But as the hunter pulled onto the land on the morning of Nov. 18, he received cell camera photos of the landowner’s donkeys near his stand.
Thinking the donkeys would spoil the hunt, Jamie decided to roll the dice and hunt the new property with the less-than-ideal wind. He’d have to rely on his Ozonics unit for scent elimination. Hopefully, the ozone generator would be strong enough to allow him to hunt the stand where the buck had been spotted on camera.
Jamie had a medical appointment at 10:00 a.m., so he wasn’t going to be able to hunt long, regardless. He hadn’t seen a deer all morning, and it was getting close to time to get down. So, Jamie stood up from his tree stand and was slowly packing up. That’s when he heard a twig break . . .
The hunter looked to see what the noise was, and instantly he spotted a buck that he could tell was a shooter. The deer was 35 yards out and coming in fast. Jamie started positioning himself for the shot, as the buck was now at just 18 yards.
The buck stopped, quartering away. Aiming for the vitals with his crossbow, Jamie made the decision to shoot. The buck jumped and ran about 50 yards or so, then stopped. At this point Jamie had fully realized what deer he’d just shot — the Tri-State Legend. His nerves were red-lined as he watched the incredible deer just standing there. A few minutes passed, and the buck hadn’t budged.
Obviously, it’s never a great sign when a deer behaves this way after a shot. Most serious hunters have been through this situation at least once. Jamie watched the buck through his binoculars; in doing so, he could see that the shot had hit back.
The buck finally started to slowly walk off into a thicket. After a few minutes, Jamie climbed down and walked over to look for his bolt. He found it, and then called an Ohio Conservation Officer to let him know what deer he had just shot, just to avoid any controversy or rumors.
The buck had crossed onto the neighbor’s land, where Jamie didn’t have permission. So being the sportsman he is, Jamie used his OnX app to find the landowner’s name and get his number, eventually. After Jamie explained the situation, the landowner had no issues with Jamie tracking the deer and even offered to help!
The landowner joined in the search party, which began right where the buck had stopped, before walking off. The men found great blood there. However, Jamie had to make his appointment. Since it had only been two hours after the shot, Jamie marked last blood and left the area.
The hunter returned with help after his appointment. At that point it had been approximately five hours since the shot. They started tracking the buck and didn’t get 100 yards down the trail when they bumped the deer from his bed. When that happened, the only decision to make was to back out and wait until morning. It wasn’t an easy call, but it was the right call.
Jamie returned the next morning with a few of his friends. They picked the blood trail right up. Jamie, in the lead, tracked the buck about 300 yards. He spotted the buck laying on its side, head down. Jamie started walking faster to the deer, and he yelled to his buddies: “He’s right here; I got him!”
When Jamie got to within 10 yards of the deer, the buck jumped up from its bed and bolted. Jamie fell to his knees in disbelief and sickness! Luckily, the buck stopped quickly and laid back down. Once again, the decision was made to back out and wait. However, an overnight rainstorm passed through the area and eliminated all remains of the blood trail. The crew grid-searched the spot for four hours, before finally backing out once again. Jamie felt sure the buck was dead somewhere near where he’d last seen it. The hunter knew he had to call someone in with a search dog trained to locate deer.
Locating the Legend
The next morning, Nov. 18, a search dog took up the track, starting from where Jamie had shot the buck. The tracker dog followed, step by step, the track Jamie and friends had followed the previous two days — until they got to the spot where the men had lost the buck two days prior.
Due to the heavy rain, the dog couldn’t pick up the trail, unfortunately. After hours and hours of relentless searching, Jamie didn’t know what else to do. Was this the unhappy end of his quest for the whitetail of a lifetime?
The answer was no, thanks to the same good neighbor mentioned earlier. The neighbor found Jamie’s buck. The deer had backtracked and even passed within 100 yards from Jamie’s tree stand where the shot was taken.
The Jamie Ferguson buck was a legend that transcended county and state lines. Many hunters and onlookers knew of and hunted this incredible buck. In the spring of 2022, the trophy was officially scored by a Boone & Crockett measurer. In total, the 26-point non-typical scores 228 4/8 gross and 218 1/8 net. Congratulations, Jamie!