September 3rd is a date that’s been on my mind for a long time. Much like when I played football, the opening date of the season is what’s in your mind throughout the off-season while practicing and preparing for what’s ahead. I’ll have to admit, this one I was especially excited about- with a couple of Kentucky giants on the hit list and the possibility of my 1st velvet buck.
Kentucky is a state that has gotten a great deal of attention lately, and rightly so. The fact that they only allow one buck to be harvested per hunter helps, as well as some good genetics and nutrition. The nutrition component became evident quickly on my drive to the property in the form of soybeans and corn primarily, and even more-so when I’m the woods for the first time, as the acorns were everywhere. We joked that these deer had a buffet at their disposal- just about anything they wanted in close proximity. The hard thing about hunting deer that have access to an abundance of food, is that they inherently have low stress and are therefore living on their terms, and can be fickle creatures.
Besides having several studs on our Reconyx cams, I was also very excited about sharing camp with Rocky’s Ryan Maisenbacher, and Tecomate Pro-Staffer Sam Shackelford, both of whom are prolific bowhunters. We were excited to try out some of the new Rocky lightweight gear, which was some of the best I’ve ever tried. With several factors working against us, including an unusual abundance of food, hot temperatures, and almost dead calm, circling winds, and bucks shedding their velvet, we knew it would be tough. Tough it was. Sam and Ryan had only four days to hunt and I had five. Sam never saw a buck the whole time, and Ryan saw a lot of does and turkeys, as well as one nice younger buck that was not a shooter. I saw only dos the first four days as well, but thankfully I was able to stay for day 5. We had been hunting the same spot hunting a couple of deer that weren’t showing . I always say I go after the biggest buck we have on camera that’s showing up in DAYLIGHT, although it can be hard to leave a giant that has not showed himself.
We found ourselves in a position the last afternoon in which we had to go for the Hail Mary and go with an audible- a spot that no one had been to so far. The hunt started quickly, with several does and turkeys coming to drink at a waterhole that was about 30 yds from me before filtering down to the beans to feed. After a long dead period, two bucks appeared behind them and my heart quickly started pounding upon seeing them, because they were the first bucks I’d seen, but it didn’t take long to realize they weren’t shooters. Just as I began to sigh in disappointment a third buck showed himself. I found myself thankful I had sprayed down thoroughly with a new scent elimination product called Scent Thief, because the bucks came straight downwind of us to 15 yards milling around and feeding on acorns. I didn’t have a shot initially because they were on the opposite side of the tree from me. The shooter, a tall, narrow, full velvet Kentucky 10 went straight through our scent line headed to water, before stopping at 30 yards, giving me the split second I needed to put the Hoyt Carbon Defiant to work. A double lung shot put the buck down within 70 yards, and the hard hunting made the reward especially sweet. The buck probably would have shed within in the next couple of days, but I’m glad he held on! We’ve got a cooler full of organic venison and my first Kentucky and velvet buck in tow. What a way to start the year!