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Kentucky Man Scores on 193-inch Opening Day Velvet Trophy

Travis Mays began his third season hunting this buck on Sept. 2, 2023. Luckily for him, that's the only day he needed in 2023 to tag this incredible deer.

Kentucky Man Scores on 193-inch Opening Day Velvet Trophy

Travis Mays hunted this deer for three years, but he only needed one afternoon to tag the buck in 2023. (Photo courtesy of Travis Mays)

Travis Mays has been hunting whitetails for 24 years, 18 of which he’s focused on hardcore bowhunting.

“It’s part of who I am,” Travis says. “I’ve been hunting hard for many years, and it’s part of the lifestyle I live.”

More recently, he spent three years hunting a specific big buck and finally caught up to it. He had several encounters with the deer, but the final one mattered most.

That day was Sept. 2, 2023. It was hot and humid, and the wind blew out of the southwest. His setup was in thick cover in a staging area adjacent to a bedding area. He hoped to intercept the buck on its way out to feed in a soybean field.

hunter with his velvet buck
This big Kentucky buck scores 193 1/8. (Photo courtesy of Travis Mays)

Sitting in his stand, he scanned the surroundings. A creek bottom curved through the landscape in front of him. The soybean field sprawled behind him. The immediate area around the stand was full of thick cover.

After a while, a small buck walked through the field. Travis watched that deer for a few minutes. Then he turned, and his big target buck was just 10 yards from his tree stand.

The big deer began walking away, and Travis slowly readied for a shot. With the buck at 22 yards, Travis settled the pin and released his arrow. The shot was perfect, and the deer ran off. It went 80 yards and piled up out of sight.

After about three hours, Travis and company began the tracking process. It ended up being an emotional recovery. Everyone involved was excited, because they knew the potential of the deer.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to harvest the deer of my dreams with my bow,” Travis says. “I take pride in bowhunting and doing things the right way. Once recovered, the deer was even bigger than we realized.”

four hunters with velvet buck
Fortunately for Travis, he had a good group of friends to share the experience with. (Photo courtesy of Travis Mays)

Reflecting on the hunt, Travis attributes the success to several things. These include having excellent stand access and a great idea of where the buck was bedding. He even used hunting apps to help scout the area, and used HuntStand’s HuntZone to check wind directions.

“I’ve dreamed since I was a young boy of having the opportunity to harvest a deer of this caliber with my bow,” Travis says. “I’m very thankful.”

The buck is estimated to be at least 5 1/2 years old and scores 193 1/8.

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hunter with his velvet buck
This buck has it all, including mass, tine length and eye appeal. (Photo courtesy of Travis Mays)



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