December 07, 2022
By Josh Honeycutt
Scott Pautler’s 2022 whitetail was a huge 6 ½-year-old deer. He had several years of history with the deer, and the journey finally ended this year. It all played out on September 10. “The weather had been warm and calm the first week of bow season,” Pautler says. “This particular day, we were set to have a good cool front moving in with a chance of light precipitation in the evening.”
He planned to set up in a large pinch point that deer frequently funneled through. Deer usually went from a block of timber down into a large brushy area, then on toward an ag field. A river winded through the bottom in the distance. With overcast skies, it drizzled rain on and off.
While walking to the stand, a fawn stepped out 10 yards away. It watched as Pautler, and his fiancé, Jess, checked a camera and continued on their way. The duo reached their stand location and waited for deer to start moving. Around 6:45 p.m., a rain shower pushed through. Five minutes after the rain stopped, the giant deer walked into view 65 yards away. Pautler tried to get the camera on the deer as it ran into 30 yards. All the while, Jess was trying to get a shot at the buck.
“Jess had a clear view of him under the bush and was whispering to me the entire time asking to shoot or to wait,” Pautler says. “Being that I was above her, I was unable to hear her. At this point the buck knew something was up. He rolled his head, and I knew we were pinned. He smelled us. The buck spun inside out and took a few quick steps back behind a wall of ragweed toward the direction he came from.”
After the buck ran off, Jess no longer had a shot. So, Pautler grabbed his bow, settled the pin, and took the 40-yard shot. The arrow hit, but he wasn’t sure where. “Jess turned to me, clearly not happy, and started to explain that she had been asking if she was good to shoot well before the wheels fell off the bus,” Pautler recalls. “My heart sank. Here I am, not knowing how well I had hit the buck, and feeling that I had let Jess down.”
To make things worse, it started to rain again. So, they descended the tree and walked over to where the buck stood. Part of the arrow was broken off and laying on the ground. They found minimal blood, though. About an hour later, they started searching for the deer. The blood trail opened, and they recovered the deer 50 yards into the track job.
“This was without a doubt the buck of a lifetime,” Pautler says. “I am still to this day wishing that Jess would have been able to be the one that capitalized on this opportunity. This is a thought that will stick with me forever when I look at that buck.
“All my friends and family were extremely happy and congratulatory,” he concludes. “It was quite a joyous few days with friends and family. This hunt was a huge learning experience for me, as well as Jess, not to mention a relationship test.”
The Union County, Kentucky, buck scores 191 4/8 inches.