After plotting and planning for more than a year for a chance at this Bluegrass State trophy buck, the moment of truth finally arrived for Billy Ham Jr., but he still had to overcome his biggest obstacle -- a devilish case of buck fever. Here's his story, in his own words, as to how he did it.
This story starts November 2010, when I was hanging trail cameras to see what bucks on my farm -- in Greenup County, Kentucky -- had survived the November gun season. I was walking a river bottom along some of our cornfields when I heard something really making a lot of noise. A small buck bolted out and right behind him was an absolute monster Kentucky trophy buck. After a short round of chase, both bucks were gone from sight.
The weeks following, I did my best to try and hunt this buck. I stayed in stands near where I saw him, but the he never showed. The last week of season, I was hauling feed down to a few of my winter feeding areas and he stood up, out of brush along a creek, and like before, he left as quick as he showed up.
The months following, I tried so hard to get pictures of this buck but somehow he avoided the trail cameras. I had cameras hung on trails, river crossings and ponds€¦but nothing.
It's now August I had one more run in with him but this time he had no idea I was there. I got to watch him for a good hour in an imperial chicory plus food plot down by a river bend.
As the weeks turned in to months, the buck kept showing up in the plot and hay field and would disappear just as if he was never there. Around the second week of October, I set a stand up at the bend of a creek on a crossing. Day after day I set with my Mathews bow in hand waiting for the chance for him to present a shot but he seemed to know I was in the area.
Early one morning, after a long week of only seeing smaller bucks and does, he finally slipped up and was heading down the trail I was set up on, walking through the water, crossing the creek headed right under me.
I was nervous, but had practiced this shot so many times with a block target on this very trail at different locations, angles and from different trees. My nerves were getting the best of me! The brute walked under me giving me a 30-yard, slightly broadside, shot and I released my arrow.
The arrow landed about 6 feet behind deer!
I'd let him tear me up so bad that I must have used the wrong pin!
I was so jacked up over this buck and the way he seemed to control the whole hunt. This continued the rest of the month and by that time I'd decided I would try to take him with my Remington .300 Win Mag during firearm season.
It was November the 12th, 2011. I'd got up early and the fog was still really heavy in the lower bottom, allowing me to slip in and hang my stand along corn about 150 yards from the foodplot.
I was setting there, waiting for what seemed like hours, for the sun to start peeking through and the fog to lift. Around 6:45 a.m., the fog lifted enough to see the plot along with the several does that were feeding, but the big buck wasn't there.
I began glassing the edges of the wood lines when I heard a slight grunt from the creek area!
I did my best to clear my head but my heart wasn't having it€¦I was so torn up over this buck! A few minutes went by when a small buck came up out of creek and ran out to the does in the plot.
A few minutes later, the does and the small buck started acting different and slowly made their way out of the field. I kept watching, and just seconds after the small buck had left the field, the giant stepped out.
Here I found myself in a familiar spot: big buck and a pounding heart. He was so amazing to me and to elude constant hunting and a season of scouting with little sight of him was mind-boggling. It was all about to pay off though as I steadied my rifle and began to squeeze the trigger.
As the sound of the rifle rang across the bottom, I saw him fall and disappear one last time in knee-deep chicory.
I left the tree and made my way to him. As I neared, I felt so relieved and so lucky to get to spend my season chasing my passion and taking lessons from this wise old buck.
After the 60-day drying period, the big boy grossed 180 inches and netted 167. The buck had seven mass measurements over 6 inches! The smallest tine had 4 3/8-inch circumference.