Rack Magazine

Burger to Bone

Burger to Bone

By Dale Weddle

It’s always wise to take one last look-see before committing to a target.

Larry Mangin didn’t fall far from his family tree.

His maternal and paternal grandfathers — Floyd Bennett and Tony Mangin — were hunting buddies. Both grew up in the Big Bend area of Meade County, Ky.

Larry’s mother, Doris, is 86. On Dec. 12, 2013, she killed a turkey. She was hunting by herself with a shotgun stoked with 3-inch magnums.

When Larry called to check on her later that day, she said she was cleaning a turkey. Her shoulder was a little sore, but she was otherwise “alright.”

In addition to her turkey hunting exploits, Doris has taken a deer the first day of gun season for seven years in a row. She bowhunted from the early ’60s into the 1990s, but finally gave up that pursuit. She didn’t say she couldn’t do it anymore; just stopped doing it.

Larry’s no different.

Like many Kentuckians who have to leave their birthplace to seek a career, Larry moved from his native Meade County about 30 years ago. He wound up settling in South Carolina, where he went to work just across the Savannah River at the Monsanto Company in Augusta, Ga.

For the last 10 years that he lived there, Larry also sidelined as big game manager for the Buckeye Plantation in Burke County, Ga., billed as the “Bird Dog Capital of the World.” Quail was the main business of the plantation, but deer and turkey are managed there, too, and that was Larry’s forte.

The privately owned Buckeye Plantation spans about 3,000 acres of pine forest and cotton fields. During Larry’s tenure, the emphasis on deer and turkey was increased. By the time he left, the plantation had some awesome deer and turkey hunting.

When he finally decided to stop punching others’ clocks, he moved back home about six years ago.

“I returned to Meade County after retiring from Monsanto,” he said. “Shortly after I came home, an interesting thing happened. I had once owned an old Herters recurve bow, which I gave to my dad in 1971. He gave it to someone else, and it passed out of the family.

“One day, after my retirement, my cousin came in and gave me the bow back. Someone had given it to him. It was pretty amazing to get the second bow I had ever owned in my life back after 40 years or so. It really made me feel like I was home where I should be,” he added.

“I’ve opened up a little antique store, but most of my time in retirement has been spent either hunting or hunting a place to hunt,” he laughed. “I have a lot of different places where I have permission to go, and some of those landowners allow me to plant food plots.

“I use a lot of different mixes and blends made primarily by Pennington for my fields,” he continued. “In addition to the food plots, three-fourths of the places I hunt are near some type of agriculture. Whether it is corn, beans, alfalfa or clover, there’s usually no shortage of food for deer.

“I learned a long time ago that wind is probably the major factor to consider when setting up to hunt white-tailed deer, so wind direction usually determines where I’m going to hunt on any given day,” he added.

By the start of Kentucky’s 2013 season, Larry had 17 different setups, either permanent stands or ground blinds. Otherwise, he had no particular buck on his radar.

Burger to BoneIn fact, he hadn’t shot one since moving back to Kentucky because he’d decided not to settle for anything that wasn’t bigger than his last. Shooting does for the larder was fine by him, and it eased his itch to shoot a deer, whether with bow or gun.

“I bowhunted about eight times during September and early October, and then I hunted the early muzzleloader weekend,” he said. “It was kind of funny because all I was seeing were little bucks, while I was primarily gunning for does. That was a first.”

He passed up three 8-pointers during that time, all with spreads beyond their ears.

“As modern gun season got closer, I started checking food plots and fields to see which of my stand sites had the freshest tracks around them,” he said. “After locating and making mental notes of several spots with good sign, I decided I would hunt the ones where the wind direction was best for that day.”

Larry usually hunts with a .308 during the rifle season, but a friend visiting from Alaska had borrowed that gun. That meant Larry was left with his second choice.

The first Saturday, he hunted with his mother. That afternoon, as has become her custom, she tagged her buck while hunting from a ground blind.

“After that, I hunted every day, mostly in the afternoons, going out about 1 or 2 o’clock,” he said. “I really think the rut was real late in our area, because I didn’t start seeing serious scrape activity until around Nov. 20.”

He erected a new blind on Nov. 19. The very next day, he discovered a new scrape nearby.

“On the third Saturday, I decided to hunt Big Bend. When I got there, my back was hurting too bad for me to climb up into the stand. After giving it some thought as to wind direction, I decided on another spot to hunt, a food plot, and drove back there.

“It was getting late in the season, so I decided I would take a doe. The small field I was watching had a good stand of alfalfa mixed with oats,” he said.

Larry settled in where he could lay back and rest his back and check the food plot from time to time. A half-hour after sunset, when all that remained was just a faint glow in the sky, five does fed out into the alfalfa.

“It was about 5:15, and I decided to look around one more time to see if there were any bucks before shooting one of the does,” Larry said. “Just about that time, this big rascal ran out into the field with its nose to the ground. My first thought was, he’s either got a big rack, or he has brush caught on his head. Either way, the deer was big enough to shoot!”

The walking brush top was at about 90 yards, heading directly toward the group of does. Larry pushed his cheek into the riflestock, found the buck in the scope and squeezed off the shot.

The deer, much bigger than the last buck he’d shot, dropped like Newton’s apple.

If Larry continues following his bigger-than-the-last-one rule, he might never shoot another deer with antlers. But his mother will.

Hunter: Larry Mangin
BTR Score: 202 2/8
Centerfire Rifle
Kentucky

– Photos Courtesy Larry Mangin

This article was published in the November 2014 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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