Justin Yeary might have grown accustomed to flipping through trail camera photographs in 2011, but he wasn’t prepared to come across a buck capable of toppling furniture.
The hunter from Shelbyville, Ky., had been running half a dozen trail cameras since the first of July. He always looked forward to seeing what had stepped in front of the lenses.
One day, Justin, his son, Houston, and Houston’s cousin, Lane, plopped down on Justin’s couch to sift through the images. After scanning through several of small bucks and does, they came across a photo that triggered celebration.
The jumping up and down, yelling, tugging and cries of “Let me see that” finally subsided, but only after the couch had flipped over backwards, leaving the three guys with their feet sticking up in the air.
“I couldn’t believe what we were seeing from the game camera, at first,” Justin said. “This buck had huge main beams, at least four tines that looked to be more than a foot long, and the rack was way, way out beyond the ears.
“That was the day I decided I needed to get smarter if I ever hoped to shoot that buck,” he added.
Shelby County is in Kentucky’s famed Bluegrass region and known for consistently producing both good numbers of deer and quality bucks. It has lots of gently rolling farmland with plenty of corn, soybeans and alfalfa upon which whitetails gorge.
Justin had permission to hunt a couple of those farms.
“I’ve never really baited with corn a whole lot to get pictures,” the 28-year-old explained. “I just put my trail cams where deer are coming and going from bean fields early in the season.
“One thing I’m careful about is not to check my cameras too often. I have a hunting buddy who goes in and checks his film every week. I feel like that’s just too much activity around where I’m going to hunt, especially early in the year when I hunt fields.
“I try to look at my film about once every three weeks,” Justin continued.
“At first, I was getting mainly yearlings, does and coyotes,” he said. “Then, toward the end of August, some larger bucks started showing up, including a pretty nice 10-pointer. About the same time, one of the owners of a nearby farm started telling me he was seeing a really good buck.”
When bow season opened in September, Justin started hunting. He decided to try for the big 10-pointer.
Ninety-degree temperatures seemed to have supressed the deer movement during daylight hours.
Late in the month, he was hunting with a friend who had set up about 600 yards away. Just as the sun had dipped down and shadows were starting to lengthen, a pretty nice buck came out into the bean field Justin was watching.
He watched the deer until almost dark, when, suddenly, it heard the twang of Justin’s friend’s bow as he shot at a doe. The big buck warily backed up to the woods’ edge before turning and running away. Justin took note of just how spooky a big whitetail can be.
The giant buck first turned up on Justin’s trail camera during the first week of October. That’s when the couch-flipping incident occurred, when Justin realized he’d have to hunt harder and smarter.
“Before that, I had been driving right up and parking near the field I was hunting,” Justin said. “But after getting the giant deer on camera, I started parking a mile away from my area and quietly walking in, taking about 25 minutes to get there.
“I managed to catch sight of the buck in a bean field a couple of times before gun season. It was a loner and a right-at-dark deer,” he added. “I also switched to a climbing stand in order to move around a little bit more.”
Hoping to close the deal with his bow, Justin took off from work to hunt the week prior to rifle season. He saw a few deer, but not the big one.
By the time modern gun season rolled around, the deer were no longer in the fields during daylight hours. Plus, the rut had begun.
“I had already moved off the fields into thick cover in order to hunt staging areas,” Justin explained. “Using a climber allowed me to be more mobile. I also started using estrous doe scent.”
Justin hunted out of a ground blind. On Nov. 19, opening morning. After several hours, he took a break for lunch. That afternoon, he carried his treestand to another location.
“I put out some of the doe-in-estrus on hang-on clips. Although I’d been using the climber a lot, I had not realized that the seat turned around, which would allow me to face the tree and use it as additional cover. So I did that for the first time,” he said.
The hours ticked slowly by with Justin getting comfortable in the stand. When the sun began its downward arc, distant shots told him others were filling their tags.
He heard a deer running about a quarter ’til 5:00, and then a doe charged past his stand.
“I knew something was about to happen,” the hunter said, “and then it all sort of happened at once. I saw this buck with an enormous rack chasing a doe at about 80 yards. I knew it was the one from the trail cam picture.
“As it came running in, the buck was facing me,” he continued. “The width of the rack was unbelievable!
“Then I saw something I’d never seen in all my years of deer hunting. The two deer stopped suddenly, and the huge buck bred the doe right there in front of my stand.
“You’d think everything that happened would have caused me to come unglued, but I actually used the time to settle my nerves,” he said.
With the breeding completed, the doe bolted on past the stand, but the buck seemed to sense that something wasn’t right. It stood stock-still, broadside, at about 40 yards.
Having regained his composure after the initial shock of seeing the big deer, Justin swung the big 7mm to his shoulder, found the deer in the scope, put the crosshairs on the shoulder and squeezed off the shot. Just as quickly, the buck disappeared into the thick cover.
“It usually takes awhile for me to get down a tree, but that time was especially slow,” Justin said. “I could barely function, my hands were shaking so badly.
“The place the buck ran into was really thick stuff, and I couldn’t find any blood,” he continued. “But after going just a little ways, I could actually smell this musky odor. Pretty soon, I found the buck in some briars.”
Justin had help dragging it out of the brambles, a chore that almost generated more (human) blood trails.
Hunter: Justin Yeary
BTR Score: 195 1/8
– Photos by Dale Weddle
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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