September 20, 2023
Calling your ex-wife to ask permission to hunt might not sound like a fun task, but Joe Phillips had some serious motivation!
He had spotted a giant non-typical buck while driving to work one morning. The big deer was feeding several hundred yards from the road. There was a crab apple tree nearby behind an old house, and his ex-wife held the key to the five-acre parcel!
“I made the call,” Joe says. “And she said she didn’t care!”
Joe kept tabs on the monster buck as he awaited the Tennessee archery velvet season, which was still a few weeks away.
His trail camera revealed the buck was in there regularly just after sunrise. With that information, he slipped in during the middle of the day to set up a lock-on, and the waiting game resumed. With a month to go, the big deer was seen regularly, and everything was going as planned. Then a serious heat wave arrived, and the deer went totally nocturnal. Temperatures nearing 100 degrees the week before opener, combined with no rain, put the hunt at risk.
“The trail camera showed he was still coming to the tree,” Joe adds. “But every visit was between 10:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. It wasn’t looking good!”
The special season is only open from August 25th through the 27th. With the scorching weather, Joe and many other Tennessee hunters were facing a tough decision: hunt in the heat, or just miss out. Joe, like many others, decided to give it his best shot. He climbed into his stand before daylight the first morning, hoping for the best. But the buck did not show.
Saturday morning was more of the same. Joe stayed in the tree until 10:00 a.m., then he decided to take a break from the misery of sitting and sweating. The forecast was calling for some rain and a drop in the temperature, so he returned a little after 4:00 p.m.
“It was not a lot cooler,” he laughs. “But I felt like the buck might come on out. And you can’t kill them sitting in your living room!”
The next four hours were more of the same. Then Joe saw two yearlings run out of the woods. “I knew that something had pushed them out,” Joe recalls. “And I saw the big drop tine headed right to me!”
Joe made a 10-yard shot with his compound bow, and the buck went right down! The huge non-typical rack features a little bit of everything: long brow tines, stickers on both sides, and the prominent drop tine at the front of the right beam. The rack was taped unofficially at 187 4/8.