October 25, 2022
By Clifford Neames
Trophy deer hunting is hard work! Getting everything just right and then waiting for a mature whitetail to get within range can take hours upon hours of labor. Add in living in a different state that’s nine hours from where you hunt, and some might even say it isn’t worth it. Thomas Hawes would disagree.
A great property in Kentucky and an awesome buck had him making that journey from Florida frequently in 2022. He was fired up waiting on the archery opener, because his cell cameras had him focused on a unique, wide-racked buck. The buck always traveled alone, and a forked G2 and a common base G3 made him easy to recognize. And, between 2021 and 2022, he had made a giant jump, adding more than 30 inches of antler.
The huge buck seemed to have a very small core area, staying on less than 100 acres throughout the year. That made moving around stealthily an issue while maintaining year-round feeders and mineral stations. During a visit in August, the buck spooked and ran right under Thomas’ primary stand, providing Thomas with a good look at the rack up close. That chance meeting made for a few restless nights.
The season finally opened with horribly hot, windy and rainy weather. Thomas made the effort, but his first hunt was a total bust. Deer were sitting tight that day, and there was no sign of the big, velvet buck.
A few days later, he experienced a second close encounter. While walking in, well before daylight, he realized the buck was paralleling his entry route just a few yards away. The buck didn’t seem bothered by his presence. Instead, it followed him to the Redneck blind in the dark. Strange behavior, indeed!
Later that same morning, the buck returned. This time he acted very nervous and remained at the far end of bow range. That visit never presented a good opportunity for a shot, and eventually he wandered off again. Because of that activity, Thomas decided to move to a new location for his next hunt. That proved to be a wise decision.
The buck showed up at the break of dawn, and this time he wasn’t getting away!
Thomas drew his Mathews bow and let an arrow fly. The hit was a little off the mark, so he decided to call for some help. Enter Josie, the big red bloodhound from Harrison Kennels, who made short work of locating his trophy at the end of the 200-yard track.
The 180-plus velvet rack is impressive, with splits, extra points at the base and a wide spread. Although Thomas just arrowed the buck, he already knows the trophy will look great on the wall!