May 17, 2023
When Jerry Bowers put in for the special traditional archery hunt at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in 2022, he was hoping to kill a nice buck. The odds for being selected for the controlled hunt aren’t high, but he had been there before and knew there were some really big whitetails on the property.
He was also remembering his late father-in-law, Jim Keim, who had introduced him to bowhunting many years before. Jim had accompanied Jerry on his last visit to the plant and had taken a nice buck on a previous trip. There was a lot to think about as Jerry waited to hear if he had been drawn.
The notification that Jerry had drawn a permit came in July. “I was excited, because I got drawn for the same area as my last visit. And I knew exactly where I wanted to hunt,” Jerry explains. “The problem was the drought, which really changed things.”
Jerry put up his tree stand in what had been a good area on his previous hunt. There wasn’t much sign there, and that turned out to be a mistake. The first day of his hunt was a bust. It was time to move.
Jerry wanted to get closer to some food plots, but there were too many other hunters there. Then a friend offered one of his stands to Jerry. With no other immediate options, Jerry decided to accept his friend’s offer.
The next morning started off with a bad wind, so Jerry stood facing the tree and looking behind him until his legs were about to give out. He had to sit down. That unlikely move turned his whole hunt around.
“I spotted two deer feeding my way,” Jerry remembers. “And one of them had a huge rack. I told myself to stop looking at the antlers and got ready to take the shot.”
The monster buck kept feeding closer, but he was coming straight in and there was no shot! Finally, when he was within 10 yards away, the buck turned broadside just enough. Jerry released the arrow from his Black Widow recurve, and the buck bounded out of sight.
“Then I got a text saying, ‘That was a big 10-point,’” Jerry says. His friend had seen the buck run by and thought it was down. Jerry decided to wait a full hour, just to be sure. But his hunt was over!
The 5 1/2-year-old buck scores 202 5/8, one of the largest ever taken at McAlester. However, the buck only weighed 130 pounds, probably due to the poor food conditions.
To commemorate the hunt, Jerry got to plant a rock alongside all the others for bucks that have scored 125 or more. He picked his rock and placed it next to the one Jim had planted years before. A fitting tribute and end to a great hunt!