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Famous, Old Kentucky “Roamer” Buck Taken by Successful Hunter

After two years of hunting this well-known deer, Justin Godwin was the man fortunate enough to tag the trophy.

Famous, Old Kentucky “Roamer” Buck Taken by Successful Hunter

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Justin Godwin had a great Kentucky deer season in 2023. He killed an incredibly old and mature whitetail buck. Estimated to be 8 1/2 years old, this deer lived long enough for a lot of the locals to know about it. That said, this was Justin’s second year leasing the property he took the deer on.

Incredibly, from 2022 to 2023, the deer packed on about 20 inches of antler. It had most of the same tines and trash from 2022, but the buck got even bigger in 2023.

Justin has been hunting since he was 10 years old. He got a BB gun at age 2 and a shotgun at 3 for small game hunting. In middle school, he began deer hunting on a family farm. His first deer was a 10-pointer, and his passion grew from there. No doubt, getting to hunt a buck of this caliber was a dream opportunity for Justin.

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Justin actually had a squirrel climb right behind him and bark in his ear; that squirrel bark spooked his target buck several weeks before he killed it. Photo courtesy of Justin Godwin

His first encounter with the deer was on Oct. 23. He had the buck at 10 yards but couldn’t get off a shot with his bow.

Earlier in the day, some young bucks ran around grunting and chasing. Justin heard a grunt, so he grunted back at it. Then a spike and 6-pointer walked in. Beyond them, he heard another deer working a tree, and soon the big buck stood only 25 yards away. Incredibly, the buck’s antlers caught limbs as it walked in. It stopped at 10 yards and stood still for several minutes.

Eventually, the buck started to nudge a doe and she ran off. The big buck went back into the timber and started working some scrapes. Justin grunted at the buck again, and he walked over to the 6-pointer and bristled up. Even so, all Justin could see was the buck’s head and neck.

Simultaneously, a squirrel shimmied down the tree Justin was in, and it touched the back of his neck. It started barking in his ear, causing the buck to look up at the squirrel. Finally, the deer departed. Unfortunately, the timber is really thick there, so they have to come into the field for Justin to get a shot. The buck never did. To make it worse, while Justin was on his way back home, the buck stepped in front of his cell cam.

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Justin says he’s extremely thankful for having the opportunity to take a deer of this caliber. Photo courtesy of Justin Godwin

With a rifle in hand on Nov. 11, Justin went afield. He returned to the same area he encountered the buck a few weeks prior. This time, however, he was back in the timber. Justin wasn’t sure if the deer was still alive, but he hoped it was.




It was cold, but there was no wind. His spot overlooked the top of a big ridge and an old cow pasture full of briars and brush that hasn’t been touched in four or five years.

Justin was slightly discouraged when he got in the stand because he had spooked some deer walking in. Despite that, he remained hopeful. Deer began moving immediately after settling into the stand.

“As soon as I could see, I could see deer,” Justin says. “I never saw anything on the field edge, but I honestly passed between 10 and 12 bucks, and half of them I should have shot. But I was waiting on him. If it wasn’t for that big buck, I would have shot one of those others.”

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The morning hunt passed without a sighting of the deer, but he wasn’t leaving for lunch. Justin wasn’t climbing down for anything. “I went in with a Slim Jim, granola bar and drink, and that was it,” he says. “I wasn’t going to have to go to the bathroom.”

Around 5:00 p.m. a couple does stepped into the field. Afterward, a spike emerged and went toward the does and bristled up, so Justin knew another buck was nearby. Within seconds he spotted one down below him on the bench with the doe.

Incredibly, it was the big deer Justin was there to shoot. However, he wasn’t sure which buck it was at the time. Justin had one opening the size of a doorway, and when the buck entered it while working toward the lone doe, he took the 70-yard shot. The heavy deer tumbled down the hill.

“I wasn’t sure if it was him, but I knew it was big,” Justin explains. “I was hoping I wasn’t shooting the wrong deer, but I saw his rack and would have bet money it was him. I just wasn’t sure if he’d already been shot.”

After giving the deer some time, he walked down the hill and recovered it. “I could not believe it was him,” Justin recalls. “He had been gone for weeks since the first encounter, but it was him!”

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Justin Godwin’s massive Bluegrass buck is estimated to be 8 1/2 years old. Photo courtesy of Justin Godwin

After the hunt, and word got out, a lot of people started talking about how they had trail camera photos of the deer. One was even over nine miles away.

“I’m blessed, and I’m tickled,” he says. “It means everything to me; it’s changed my life. I’ve never been the guy you can keep out of the woods.”

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