October 11, 2023
Living in a one-buck state can mean sitting on the sidelines for most of the fall if the early season goes your way. For some, the solution to the downtime is hunting another area close to home. In fall 2022, Ryan Huffman worked that plan to near perfection, tagging out in Ohio on a true giant and bagging a great West Virginia buck. All this occurred in just a few short weeks!
Ryan lives in Princeton, West Virginia, in the heart of big-buck country. He also has access to properties in Ohio, so he hunts both states. And he is always seeking trophy deer. Opportunity turned into reality after Ryan put a trail camera out on a farm he had not visited in over decade. That 4 1/2-hour run to Ohio paid off quickly when he got photos of a true giant. Just a week later, he had a stand in place.
“The area was literally destroyed early in October; there was so much sign,” Ryan recalls. “I set up a few yards from a huge scrape in one of the only trees that would work there.”
By Oct. 18, the corn was coming out and the red moon was overhead. The monster whitetail was on the move, and Ryan felt like it was time to make his play.
“He showed up on camera again, and I was fired up,” Ryan claims.
The morning hunt on Oct. 22 didn’t produce, so he spent the rest of that day cutting beans and slept restlessly through the night. The next day Ryan was dressing at his truck well before daylight with a pack of coyotes howling nearby. “That raised the hair on the back of my neck,” he says. “I was super excited, and they just added to it! Deer were very active early on, and there were two young bucks fighting almost under my stand not long after I got set up. I knew if the big one was still in the area, I would see him soon!”
Then Ryan heard a buck thrashing brush. The big guy was back, and it was about to happen!
“When I saw him, I remember thinking, oh my gosh, it’s the giant,” Ryan says.
All the other deer took off when the huge buck stepped into view. Ryan released the bolt from his crossbow and watched the buck collapse a few yards away. He was tagged out in Ohio with a giant scoring 205 2/8!
With November ahead, Ryan set his sights on getting a second trophy; however, this time he’d be hunting West Virginia. Two weeks later, he and friend Justin Warren were headed in to hang trail cameras on a lease they share when Ryan spotted another big buck.
“We left the area to avoid disturbing him,” Ryan says. “Then I slipped back in and set up a stand at the intersection of three logging lanes.”
The West Virginia hunt took several days, with a few exciting encounters. On Nov. 20, the big buck made a fatal mistake as he stepped into one of the logging lanes.
“He was staring at a group of does, just grooming himself and grunting at first,” Ryan recalls. “Then he moved to where I could shoot!”
Ryan’s arrow struck the deer perfectly, and the buck fell within sight of the stand! That rack measures 163 inches. Two great hunts, one with a crossbow and one with a compound, producing two awesome trophies!