October 22, 2010
By Jack Nunnally
Jack Nunnally has been Hunting whitetails in the woods and wetlands of Virginia's Prince George County since he was 12 years old, but 2009 turned out to be the year his homeland produced the deer of a lifetime!
By Jack Nunnally
Jack Nunnally's 22-point trophy whitetail out of Prince George County netted 190 4/8 inches as a non-typical.
Virginia's Prince George County has always been my home, and since taking my first "trophy" -- a squirrel killed when I was 12 years old -- it has always been the seat of my fascination and obsession with hunting.
My father owns a small farm in Prince George County, and I live there with my wife and daughter. Comprised mostly of swampland, the farm has allowed me to spend countless hours in the woods. From the age of 15, when I harvested my first whitetail deer, my father's land has harbored my dream of one day taking a trophy whitetail buck.
In 2006, I was privileged to receive permission to hunt a friend's farm in Prince George County. I knew no one else had hunting rights, and I felt very grateful. My friend had sighted a few significant bucks in his field at night, so I looked forward to scouting the property, which included soybean fields, a thick cutover, hardwoods and a large swamp. I knew in the back of my mind the swamp was going to be the place where I could harvest a nice buck.
During the spring turkey season of 2007, I was roaming the oaks trying to strike up a gobbler, when I found a large shed antler. The antler had four points, with a sticker point on the G2, and it was around 65 inches of antler. Based on the shed horn and reports of the bucks the landowner had seen, I knew I had a chance at a trophy.
In 2007, I hunted hard for the whitetail to which the shed antler belonged. I never saw the large buck, although I did harvest a few deer for the venison. I knew I was going to have to do more scouting than hunting to pattern the large bucks.
During the 2008 season, I came in contact with plenty of deer but not the one I was looking for. It was bow season and I was hunting a rub line. As I was sitting in my stand on a breezy morning, I heard a deer approach behind me. Just then the wind blew my quiver of arrows off its hanger. I heard the deer take off running, from the sound of him crashing through the woods. I knew he was of considerable size.
I continued to be persistent in my scouting efforts, knowing it would take two or three seasons to figure out such a large farm. During the last couple of years, I had scouted the swamp but never really found the perfect spot. Scouting hard in 2008, I moved around with a climbing stand and found a tree on the swamp that would accommodate my stand late in the season. With more than one stand site selected, I was looking forward to the 2009 season. My scouting efforts were going to pay off.
In October 2009, the landowner reported seeing a "monster buck" in his field late at night. He said it had a lot of points and a drop tine. I could hardly contain my excitement! On October 24, I bowhunted for a few hours in the morning, then scouted for a while, finding a lot of scrapes in a bottom. I had my Cuddeback trail camera with me, and I hung it on a tree across from a scrape, hoping to capture a glimpse of the monster buck.
The following weekend, I decided to walk to the oaks and retrieve the memory card from the trail camera. The picture count was seven. Anxious to view them, I brought the pictures up on the computer at home. There was a spike, a few turkeys, an 8-pointer and two pictures of the largest antlered buck I had ever seen! The images of him were taken on October 30 at 4:44 a.m. I guessed he was traveling through the oaks coming into the field late at night with the does and going back into the swamp in the morning. I was completely consumed with this deer.
My focus from then on was the swamp, and I soon found a beaver dam with large deer tracks crossing a path along the dam. I planned to hang my stand on a tree facing the deer's pathway. My expectations were high, and I would be able to hunt hard, having a couple of weeks off from work. On November 7, the wind was coming out of the north, ideal for my stand position. I carried a homemade lock-on stand that a friend gave me and hung it in the darkness of early morning. The pathway along the beaver dam was about 20 yards in front of me and there was a large cutover to my right around 30 yards away. I imagined the deer sneaking into the cutover to bed. I settled in, and after an hour of light, a nice buck came walking through the swamp along the edge of the cutover. The buck saw me, ran into the cutover and blew his warning to others. I knew the hunt was over after his warning, and during the next two weeks I stayed away from that stand. Meanwhile, we had seven inches of rain, which flooded the swamp.
The large buck I had on trail camera was nocturnal. With gun season approaching, my chances of seeing him were becoming more slim. The hunt clubs surrounding the property would soon be running their dogs.
On November 21, during my vacation week, the wind conditions were perfect, so I climbed into my stand by the beaver dam before light. I knew my best chance would be at first light. I stood up in the stand and prepared to shoot. Around 7 a.m. I began to blow my Lohman grunt call loudly, making sure to be heard above the water rushing over the dam. To the north I could see a deer about 70 yards away making his way through the water, coming right towards me. I looked at his antlers, and once I could tell it could possibly be the buck I was waiting for, I did not look at his rack again, fearing I would miss my shot. He stepped behind a cluster of trees for about 30 seconds and then began to move again. The wind direction was in my favor, and I knew he could not get my scent. I concentrated on his vitals, picking my shot carefully. He made a few necessary steps to the right, and I pulled the trigger of my Remington 870 Express. I knew I had hit him, but a second shot was required. I looked for an opening in the direction he was running, and I took another shot, flipping him head over heels in the water. I waded through the waist deep water, and 15 yards away from him, I could see he was my Cuddeback camera monster!
In my excitement, I phoned my wife breathlessly exclaiming, "I go
t him!" Everyone who heard those words that day knew that I had killed my trophy dream deer from the trail camera picture. After I pulled my trophy out of the swamp, I stood for a few moments thanking God for this experience. I cannot say how grateful I am for being able to hunt the landowner's property. I checked the deer at a local checking station, Newville Store, in Prince George. The deer checked in at 25 points. The next day, my family and I took him to Donnie Briggs, owner of Whitetail Creations in Wakefield, Virginia
After the 60-day drying process, on Feb. 13, 2010, I took the antlers to be measured by a Boone and Crockett official in Dinwiddie, Virginia. There were two officials involved, Robert Mayer and Dennis Scott. The antlers had a broken G3 on the left, which they believed came from a bullet from a small caliber rifle. It took them quite a while to score him because of the unique webbing on the right main beam. The antlers grossed 205 5/8, and they netted 190 4/8. The buck made the awards book.
Months after my trophy was taken, people in and around Prince George are still talking about the monster buck. I have had people on my delivery route ask me if I knew the guy who killed the 25-point buck! Of course, I was all too happy to show them a picture of me with my trophy. It's definitely a deer of which Prince George County can be proud.
It has always been a dream of mine to have a trophy whitetail in my home that would astonish everyone. That dream has been fulfilled.