October 03, 2023
Hunter Ford has been hunting the spot right behind his house in Tennessee for over 10 years. During that time, he has taken some nice bucks. In late June of 2023, a new buck with a non-typical rack showed up on his trail cameras. The new antlers were already showing plenty of character, and there were still many weeks left to grow.
With the early velvet season coming up, this deer would be at the top of Hunter’s hitlist. He didn’t have to prep much. Deer were coming to the food plot, and he could watch his target buck from his sister’s house. Hunter placed a lock-on 35 feet up in a tree at the edge of the woods the first week of June. This was a waiting game, and he was ready!
Throughout the summer, the buck’s rack reached giant proportions, sporting multiple extra points and heavy mass. It was easily the biggest buck Hunter had ever focused on.
When Aug. 25, 2023, arrived, Hunter was in place well before dawn; and it was hot! “I turned on the Ozonics and sat there hoping he would show up as the sweat rolled off my body,” he recalls. Fortune was on his side that morning; the wait wasn’t going to be long.
Just after daylight, a 130-inch 8-point popped out of the woods, and the incredible non-typical was trailing him. The two bucks made their way out into the field directly downwind of Hunter’s stand. His Ozonics unit, morning thermals and the extra elevation combined to keep his scent from reaching the bucks.
“I had to make a slow turn just to see them,” Hunter explains. “Once I was sure it was him, I eased to my feet and got in position to shoot.”
The buck was at 40 yards, and there was no chance of a shot as the deer fed unaware of Hunter’s presence. It slowly moved in closer, and at 35 yards Hunter shot. The red spot on the buck’s chest signaled a good hit as the deer made his final run, crashing in just 70 yards.
“It was 6:25 a.m. and I was done,” Hunter says.
The 5 1/2-year-old velvet buck scores 187 and weighs 230 pounds. “I do my own taxidermy, and I really look forward to mounting this one,” Hunter adds.