March 11, 2021
By Josh Bias
In 2019 a local dozer operator in Wyoming Co., West Virginia, snapped and shared a cell phone picture of a massive 12-point buck he spotted on the job. Soon, hunters from all around the Mountain State began moving in on the area. Needless to say, they were interested to learn more about the giant buck. All that had seen the picture were tempted by the prize that was lurking somewhere in the nearby hills and hollers — a possible state record typical.
Jody Dalton was one of those hunters. But Jody had a different plan than the others. He knew the area was being over pressured, so he fell back on the bowhunting knowledge that he had been building for the past decade as a big buck hunter. Jody scouted a spot about a mile or so away from the jobsite where the picture was snapped, and there he found a great deal of other deer activity. There were lots of does, along with a few mature bucks big enough to excite any bowhunter. But, no such buck stepped out within archery range for Jody in ’19.
In late December Jody went to pull the trail cameras he had left in his hunting spot. One camera showed a photo of a big 8-pointer, probably pushing 150 inches, as well as the big buck, who at this time was a 14-pointer with a split G2 and one split brow! The pictures were dated late October and early November. The intel was proof it would be possible for Jody to take the giant buck in that exact spot at a later date. To say Jody was excited is an understatement.
Jody hoped the 2020 deer season would give him a chance to catch up with the giant buck. It’s common for mature bucks to repeat themselves from year-to-year around the same dates. More times than not they'll show back up in the same area around the same dates. So, on November 4, Jody went into his hunting spot and made a few mock scrapes, used Buck Bombs and dragged a rag soaked in Tink’s 69.
While in the stand that day, Jody decided to look through the images on his trail camera’s SD card. He was amazed to see a recent photo of the massive typical from October 28. The giant buck had shown back up, and this time he sported an incredible mainframe 12-point rack.
The next morning began uneventful. When he started to get stiff, Jody decided to stand up and stretch his legs to get some blood flowing. Little did he know there were three does within 30 yards of his stand. Luckily, the does never spotted Jody standing up. Jody noticed that with the does was a younger 8-pointer. The young buck was harassing the does and hoping to get lucky. Eventually the does eased down the hill and stood 40 yards under Jody's stand as they began feeding on freshly fallen acorns.
Suddenly, the woods exploded with grunts and chasing. That’s when the big 12-pointer appeared, and he was chasing and bumping the does all around Jody.
The bowhunter tried to calm himself, and he waited on the perfect moment to draw. As the buck stepped through some thick brush, Jody drew his Hoyt bow. As he watched the buck walk the trail through the thick brush, Jody tried to find a lane in which to get a clean shot. Finally, the buck slowed and stopped in an opening. Jody took his time. He settled the pin on his Hoyt and squeezed slowly. The arrow found its mark, hitting the buck center mass.
As the buck ran off, Jody could only catch glimpses of him. Jody wanted but could not get a follow up shot.
And then the buck took off running down the hill and crossed an ATV trail. Jody's heart sank. That sick feeling rose up as he knew he had not hit the vitals. His arrow probably impacted the liver and maybe one lung.
Jody knew he would have to give the buck some time. But the hunter was still ecstatic at having been given the chance just to shoot! In fact, Jody was self-filming the hunt, and on camera he just kept repeating, “I just shot a giant!”
Unfortunately, not too far into the track job, Jody jumped the buck from his bed just 80 yards from where he had lost sight of him earlier. He knew there was only one thing to do, and that was to back out. Dad would know best — so Jody headed to his dad’s house.
Father and son arrived back in the woods with a few other helping hands and began the slow process of tracking blood in a dampened West Virginia forest. On hands and knees, very little blood was visible in the thick mountain laurel. Then Jody's dad noticed something down in a creek bed that looked like a dead deer. As the father and son duo slowly descended on the shape, they realized it was indeed the giant 12-pointer. The magnificent buck was expired! About that time, Jody and his father both looked to the heavens and said “thank you” to the good Lord.
When the men weighed the field-dressed buck, the scale read only 144 pounds. When West Virginia biologists examined the buck, they suggested the deer’s age to be between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 years. The deer’s jawbone has not yet been professional examined for cross-section aging of the teeth, but a more precise estimate of age will be later determined.
Regardless, Jody’s buck is a specimen of superior genetics and an example of just how big whitetail antlers can grow in the Mountain State.
When a panel of biologists from the state’s Division of Natural Resources measured the deer’s rack using the Pope & Young scoring system, the final measurements revealed the buck was in fact a new state record typical. The final net score is 191 2/8, which bests Chad Scyphers’ previous state record by 2 1/8 inches.
With a little bit of patience and a good deal of sound woodsmanship, Jody Dalton was able to break the West Virginia record for a typical whitetail taken with archery equipment.
FYI, be sure to stayed tuned to North American Whitetail magazine to read the complete recount of Jody Dalton’s incredible hunt for this whitetail. More of this amazing story is yet to come; so be sure to subscribe to NAW for the full coverage.