October 12, 2022
By Clifford Neames
Kentucky’s archery season opens early in September, when prospects of taking a great buck fill every hunter’s dreams. You plan on sweat, insects and standing corn as part of the deal. Temperatures are in the high 80s. So, clouds and a breeze, and maybe even a little rain are a blessing. But a storm that floods out your hunting area is a game changer. And that is what the weatherman dialed up on Sept. 3, 2022.
After watching a tall-tined target all summer, and catching him on a cell camera the first morning, Jonathon Stuart was not about to let weather interfere with the start of his season. His plan B meant moving several hundred yards to get away from the submerged hollow, abandoning the sweet spot where the big buck had been hanging out for weeks. Jonathon knew he needed to reset on higher ground, but where should he go?
On a hunch, he decided to try a tree just off the edge of some standing corn. This setup covered all the bases. He could watch the edge of the field through gaps in the foliage and see any deer that slipped into the woods. The first afternoons produced encounters with other deer, but the bruiser did not show.
On Wednesday, the afternoon weather app forecast looked better. So, Jonathon made his way back into the woods. The effects of the storm were long gone, but it was still very warm.
Things got a little sideways as Jonathon pulled his bow up, because a pair of younger bucks walked right into the stand. After a tense moment, they left without spooking. More deer filtered through, browsing on the vegetation between the corn and the trees. The plan was working, but where was the big guy?
The real magic happened at 5:30 p.m., when Jonathon spotted a bachelor group of seven bucks moving his way. They milled around, pulling corn off the stalks as they got closer. Jonathon peered through the limbs and spotted distinctive white leg markings. A spike turned into the woods, and the big buck eased in cautiously on the same trail. Jonathon made a soft bleat to stop it as he released the string for the 30-yard flight. The buck bolted away, but the hunt wasn’t over yet.
Jonathon was left wondering, Was the shot as good as it looked?
He decided to sit in the tree for a while, just to be sure. And when he got down to check the arrow, the trail led into water. After following the trail for 75 yards, it was time to back out and get a tracking dog.
Later that night, the Black Mouth Cur picked up the scent, moving off slowly ahead of the light. 1000 yards later, Jonathon was standing over his prize!
The monster buck has matching walls of long tines on long, upswept beams, and a frame remarkably similar to a deer Johnathon took a few years before. Matching stickers on the G2s also add character to a dandy rack!