It’s hard to stay enthusiastic when the deer at the top of your wish list goes AWOL for a couple of weeks, especially if you rely on trail cameras to reveal where to spend opening day.
Just prior to Kentucky’s mid-November rifle season, Kent Walters knew exactly where he was going to be when the 2020 season dawned. He was collecting nighttime trail camera photos of a world-class 12-pointer.
After stepping in front of the lens regularly for a couple of weeks in October, however, the whitetail disappeared off the face of the earth (or at least the 25 acres Kent hunts). With every passing day, the forlorn hunter became convinced the animal was gone for good.
He even made plans to usher in the rifle season someplace else until his wife happened to see the wish-list buck and photograph it. Re-energized by the daytime image, he happily shelved Plan B.
Kent hunted from dawn to dusk on opening day, on Sunday afternoon and all day Monday. He says it was too hot to bother on Tuesday.
The following day, he saw lots of does, one of which was being chased by a young buck.
“About 1:30, I heard something straight across from me and saw antlers in the thick stuff,” he told Dale Weddle, who’s writing the story for Rack magazine. “The buck was about 150 yards away and walking, so I blew my grunt call.”
As he’d hoped, the animal stopped. When Kent bleated to add more to the conversation, it resumed walking and cut the distance by half. The deer was plenty close enough, downhill, but the angle was bad.
“I held off; just wasn’t going to take a bad shot like that,” Kent said. “I just watched as the deer walked out of sight.”
So ended his hunt, and Thursday wasn’t much better.
It was so hot when he woke Friday that he chose not to hunt. Instead, he put together and placed a new 18-foot ladder stand about 100 yards from his other one, closer to where he’d seen the big buck.
He christened it the next day, Nov. 21.
Shortly after daybreak, some does came in and fed on acorns for a couple of hours. The next seven hours were uneventful.
About 4:00, he heard what could’ve been one or more of the same does returning. He actually saw a couple of them. That’s when the buck he’d been hoping to see crested a small rise to his right.
The monstrous whitetail was coming straight toward him, downwind of some scent Kent had deployed. It seemed to be unaware of the nearby does.
Before Kent could act, the deer disappeared in some brush, only to pop back out a mere 20 yards in front of the startled and now exposed hunter.
If the buck saw him, however, it lost its train of thought when it finally spotted the does. When it veered toward them, Kent shot it.
“When the gun went off, white tails were going everywhere,” he said. “It was chaotic for a couple of seconds. In the confusion, I lost sight of my buck, but then I looked over and saw it walking, just before it fell over dead.”
The incredible 12-pointer benefits mostly from tine length. Four of the uprights measure between 11 6/8 and 12 5/8 inches long.
— Read Recent Blog! Eleventh-hour Ohio Giant: The rack wound up scoring 184 4/8 inches as a Typical. The missing points would’ve sent it well above the 200-inch mark and into another category.