If only Josh Prewitt had been in the right stand, his 2012 season could’ve ended a whole lot sooner.
Two days into Kentucky’s 2012 modern firearms season, the bull of the woods stood in front of Josh’s empty ladder stand about half an hour after sunrise. The hunter from Brodhead was 400 yards away, watching another ridge, when the trail camera documented the visit.
Another couple of days passed before the unlucky hunter realized he’d chosen the wrong spot within the 80 acres he hunts with his brother-in-law, Scott Mays.
“Scott and I usually hang trail cams near mineral blocks in August,” Josh said. “The farm we hunt has so many turkeys, if you put out corn that early, the turkeys clean it up as fast as you can dump it. Besides, when the deer are in velvet, they seem to prefer the mineral lick.
“Our place is mainly hardwoods and creeks, but it’s next to several other large farms that have crop fields,” he continued.
Josh really wanted to shoot a buck with his bow, but he’s no purist. He’d put in for a week’s vacation to coincide with the rifle season, just in case.
He spent much of the season hunting from the stand where he arrowed a nice 8-pointer in 2011. It sits on a little bench that gradually slopes down to a creek about 200 yards distant.
“I went six or seven times with my bow in September, and I didn’t see a deer,” he said. “Even so, we were picking up a couple of decent 10-point bucks and some does on our trail cams, so we hunted a few more times in October.
“On the Friday before the modern firearms season opened, Scott and I went bowhunting,” he continued. “It was about 30 degrees, and the bucks were finally starting to move. I saw three small ones, and Scott shot one of the 10-pointers we’d caught on camera.
“Scott waited for about an hour, texted me, and then got down to search for the arrow. It took me about 30 minutes to get down and over to where he was.
“We began following the blood trail and jumped his deer about noon. That’s when we decided to back off and give it some more time,” Josh said.
“Meanwhile, more or less to kill time, we decided to check the two trail cams by our other stands. We were shocked to find photographs of a monster 10-pointer that we’d never seen,” he said. “It had been at my stand site about 40 minutes before daylight and then on Scott’s side about 15 minutes later that very morning.
“I guess that’s the way the rut works,” he said. “You never know what might show. I really felt that when we first saw a picture of the big deer, it was just passing through and, very likely, we’d never see it again.”
They found Scott’s buck that afternoon. Josh returned to his bench stand with his rifle the next morning. He didn’t see a deer.
He suffered another goose egg from a different spot that afternoon.Same story Sunday and Monday.
“Tuesday morning, I got out early and went to Scott’s stand,” Josh said. “I always try to be in my tree before daylight, to let things settle down before the sunrise. That morning, I saw a 6-pointer at the break of dawn.”
The only other thing he saw was a coyote that came right behind his tree before getting a nose full of man-scent and doing a 180.
“As I was going out for lunch, I decided to pull the cards from our cameras and take them home to help me decide where to hunt that afternoon, since I had seen only one deer in first four days,” Josh said.
When he got home and checked the card, Josh found out the giant buck was not only still around, but it had also passed in front of his ladder stand at first light on Sunday.
Not at all hopeful the deer might come through again during the afternoon, Josh ate lunch and headed back to his ladder stand on the bench about 3 p.m.
“It was so warm, probably in the upper 40s, that I didn’t have a coat on,” he said. “I sat there until almost dark without seeing anything. Although there was a little shooting light remaining, I decided to leave.”
After shrugging into his backpack, Josh took one last 360-degree look and listened intently before getting down.
“That’s when I heard something walking,” he said. “I strained to see anything in the direction of the sound, but I couldn’t … at first. I slowly sat back down on the stand without taking off the backpack and continued to scan the woods.
“I finally saw a doe, and the big buck was behind her,” he said.
Josh tried to calm his nerves before shouldering his 7mm Mag. He could feel his heart racing.
“They were 100 yards out, just calmly walking, the buck about 30 yards behind the doe,” he said. “They were moving through some small brush and weeds.
“I forced myself to focus, to pull the scope off of the buck and to swing ahead to find a hole in the undergrowth,” he continued. “When the buck walked through the lane, I let ’er fly. Afterward, it went maybe 40 yards before plowing up the ground.
“I had double-lunged it. The bullet must have hit a bit of brush or something and expanded, because the entry hole was bigger than the exit,” he added.
Josh immediately called to ask Scott to bring the four-wheeler, but Scott was in a restaurant at the time. He arrived an hour later, and they took the animal home, where the celebrating lasted until 3 a.m.
Hunter: Josh Prewitt
BTR Score: 186 6/8”
– Photos Courtesy of Josh Prewitt
This article was published in the November 2013 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
• Bottom of the Ninth: Jeremy Schmeidler’s Kansas buck scores 225 1/8 inches in Buckmasters Trophy Records.
• An Alarm Clock Named Jake: Bob Weber of Ottawa, Ill., would’ve gladly remained under the blankets on Jan. 19, but his 12-year-old stepson, Jake, doesn’t have a snooze button.
• Double Take: Maryland’s Eastern Shore has long been considered one of the East Coast’s most consistent producers of big bucks. Brian Miller’s 16-pointer from 2012 is proof that the region’s genetics and groceries are still capable of throwing out world-class whitetails.