Larry Finley moved from Clay to neighboring Laurel County, Ky., in 1978. Four years later, he decided to spring for some major upgrades to his home.
“Little did I realize that a decision to remodel my house in 1982 would result in friendships that would forever affect my hunting and fishing,” Larry said. “The guys I chose to do the work on my house, Bud Ward and Clyde Pennington, are from Jackson County. Most of their crew are related or friends.
“I discovered from the onset that we all share a love for the outdoors and hunting,” he added.
A bond soon developed, and the men departed with the job done, as well as a promise to stay in touch.
In 2005, the Jackson County guys came across what they had been looking for: 880 acres on the Ohio River in Pendleton County, which is known for both quantity and quality whitetails.
Pendleton routinely ranks among Kentucky’s top yielders of deer. In 2010, it was second only to Owen in harvest totals.
Several of the guys chipped in to lease the property.
They saw very few deer the first year, but they remained optimistic and planted food plots of milo, clover, mixed grasses and turnips. Their efforts were rewarded in subsequent seasons.
Larry joined the lease in 2008, bringing the number of members to 13. By then, the men had made major improvements and were also taking advantage of their many skills to develop a major deer camp with the owner’s permission.
“We had general contractors, concrete men, roofers, electricians and mechanics,” Larry said. “Anything we needed done, we could pretty much do it ourselves. We built a large cabin that sleeps six, a place to cook, and hauled in more campers.
“We like to eat big,” he continued. “Friday nights became cookout nights, usually with fish, but sometimes with other food. Regardless, it’s always a big spread.”
One part of the property took on the look of an old-time deer camp with big crowds on weekends, lots of good natured joking, good food and often a nice buck or two hanging from a tree.
“It got to where you just loved getting there on Fridays and hated to leave on Sundays,” Larry said.
“Although we practice a lot of deer management with food plots and the like, we’re pretty much old fashioned in our hunting approach as only two of the 13 use trail cams,” he said. “We stand- and still-hunt according to individual preference, and we generally just love being together as friends enjoying the outdoors.
“During the 2011 season, we started seeing sign of a super deer with some large cedar trees torn up,” he said. “A buck had really horned the heck out of a lot of good trees, real high up. This got everyone’s attention.
“Then, some neighbors reported seeing a very large buck in the area. When the 2012 season came along, the big sign resumed,” he added.
Larry took a doe during the early muzzleloader season. He didn’t see a whole lot of activity, but at least he acquired meat for the freezer. The best time of the year was still a month or so away.
The big buck sightings, along with continued appearance of some really big buck sign, had everybody charged up as they arrived in deer camp for the opening of modern gun season.
“It was warm that weekend, actually the worst hunting conditions you could ask for,” Larry remembered. “I was hunting out of a ladder stand that I’d borrowed.
“I had hunted this particular hollow for four years and liked the location. A real good clover field was close to it, and when I climbed into the stand on Saturday morning, I already knew from scouting that there was a dandy scrape line nearby,” he said.
Larry hunted the morning, took a three-hour break, and then went back for the afternoon sit.
“The only thing that happened that Saturday was a little 4-pointer just pestered me to death,” Larry recalled.
“It came by my stand four or five times during the day.”
The deer had an ugly little rack, and the hunter just passed the time by watching it come and go.
“On Sunday, my allergies were killing me, and I got in the treestand late, about 10 minutes after daylight,” Larry said. “After a while, still fighting the allergies, I sneezed — not very loud. I was just sitting there with my head back when, about 8:00, I heard a shot.
“I sat up, looked around, and then I saw this buck pouring it on, coming downhill. I knew immediately it was a good one,” he said.
“I stood and raised my gun. The deer was coming to my left, and I couldn’t find it in my scope, at first. Then, just out of the blue, it slammed on the brakes. When I shot, it bolted. And just like that, it was over.
“I thought I’d missed and was really worried,” Larry continued.
After sitting there for about 30 minutes, Larry got down and began to search for signs of a hit. All kinds of thoughts were going through his head: no deer, no blood, deer of a lifetime, and he’d missed!
As the dejected hunter was crossing the dam of a small pond, he finally stumbled across the blood he’d so desperately wanted to find, a pool of it. With renewed hope, he went back to camp to get Bud, Clyde and some more helpers.
“Those two guys are real good trackers,” Larry said. “I swear: Bud is part beagle.”
The group returned to the dam and followed the trail, which first wound uphill — not a good sign. But the big deer eventually turned toward low ground, and the men spread out, looking for it.
Larry was working his way around a hill when Clyde drove up on a four-wheeler and said, “Man, we’ve found it. You killed a good 6-pointer.”
The joke lasted for as long as it took for Larry to reach his deer.
Turns out, the first shot Larry heard that morning was another hunter shooting at the same buck. But the mind-boggling whitetail had only one hole in it, obviously Larry’s doing.
Hunter: Larry Finley
BTR Score: 226 7/8
– Photos Courtesy of Larry Finley
This article was published in the October 2013 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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