Former GLC county yields another near-perfect monster
By Ed Waite
The first time Alexis Kemp's crossbow sang on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the final note was not a thwack. The 11-year-old misjudged how close the doe was to the stand she shared with her father.
The encore, however, was pitch perfect.
The girl from Blanchester, Ohio, wasn't exactly a novice. In four years of hunting, she'd already taken two bucks and a pair of does.
Of course, living in prime whitetail habitat doesn't hurt. The family's property lies in a farm belt in southern Warren County, home to some very big bucks that have graced this magazine's pages in the past, including Brad Jerman's 183 7/8-inch Perfect, winner of the 2004 Golden Laurel Citation, which was taken less than 20 miles from the Kemp place.
"In January 2008, we were rabbit hunting a large CRP field behind our property," said her dad, Dennis. "The beagle was running a rabbit 'round and 'round, when suddenly, this huge buck jumped up and ran into the woods east of our place.
"It was the first time anyone we knew had seen a buck of that caliber, or had admitted it. We also like to keep things like that a secret. No sense in letting the cat out of the bag. So we kept it to ourselves and within the family.
"The buck was never seen again around our place all through the spring and summer. And in spite of trail cameras always on watch, there were no pictures to prove the whereabouts of the buck," he added.
Archery season came soon enough, and the father-daughter team began to hunt in earnest, almost every evening and certainly on the weekends when the weather cooperated.
"We saw plenty of deer, but none close enough for a shot. Several smaller bucks visited frequently, but we were holding out for a more mature deer," said Dennis. "Then on the Monday before Thanksgiving, while we were sitting in the double treestand, wrapped up against a downpour, we saw an enormous buck run across the bean field. It was huge. Had to be the one we'd seen while rabbit hunting."
"Thanksgiving was very busy at our house. By bedtime, I was exhausted," said Alexis. "I was still really tired when Dad came in to wake me to go hunting on Friday morning. I didn't get up right away.
Dad had to rouse me again. I finally got up, dressed, and we went to the stand. It was pretty cold, about 20 degrees, and it was overcast like it might snow or something. We were bundled up pretty good. After we settled into the stand about 6:15, I snuggled up against Dad and fell asleep again for a spell."
About 20 minutes later, Dennis saw three or four does along the edge of the woods flanking the field.
"After a little while, Dad saw another doe, and the big buck came into the field from the woods 200 yards away," explained Alexis. "They ran around the field a little bit with the buck sniffing the ground, and then they crossed and went into the other woods.
"Pretty soon, Dad saw another doe come in behind us along the tree line, and he told me I could try to shoot her when she got close. I got the crossbow ready and, when she was just to the left of us, I squeezed the trigger. But I shot right under her because she was too close and I was aiming too low. Then she ran off," Alexis spoke quickly.
"After a little while longer, he saw a doe and the buck come out of the woods and into the field again," said Alexis. "The two kept moving around the field, and the buck was herding her.
"After a few minutes, the buck bedded down while the doe moved around the field. It did that about four times. It would get up and move closer to the doe, and then lay down again. After about 50 minutes, it got up and started toward its girlfriend again.
"The doe was coming to the tree line where we were sitting, the buck following behind her. But they were angling toward our house and away from us," Alexis continued. "When she was about 50 yards away, she started running right toward the tree line. Since she was moving away, Dad mouth-grunted, and the doe stopped and turned."
The two deer entered the woods about 50 yards away from the Kemps, and the buck stopped behind a tree.
"We had a mowed lane so we could drive the truck back to the end of our place. It was about 10 feet wide. Between the trees and the trail was a tangle of weeds, brush and briars. The doe stopped to eat some briars, and the buck stayed behind a big tree limb," said Dennis.
"While she was standing there, she peed on her hocks," Alexis added.
"Dad said the buck would join her any minute, but it never came. So we waited about another 10 minutes and, finally, it stepped out from behind the big oak limb.
"It was standing quartering away about 20 yards from us. I raised my crossbow, held it about an inch behind the shoulder and an inch low, and then I squeezed the trigger. The arrow hit, but it looked like it only went in about 2 inches. I guess it went all the way through and smacked the other shoulder.
"When the arrow hit, it made a really funny sound. Then the buck took off running. I could see a little bit of blood coming out where the arrow went in, and then the arrow fell out just before the deer went into the brush. Pretty soon, we heard crashing sounds, but we didn't know if it fell or was just running through thick stuff," Alexis said.
"Dad and I were shaking and laughing, and the doe was just standing there like she didn't even know what was going on. She finally just walked away. After about 10 minutes, we got down and Dad went up the lane to look for my buck from the other end, while I poked around in the brush looking for sign.
"When Dad found it, he called to me, 'I found him ... I found him!' So I headed for Dad. When I got to him, he was sitting on the ground, laughing and clapping. He couldn't stop laughing. He was shaking, too. He was so excited. It was really funny watching him," said Alexis.
"Then Dad got his cell phone out and called at least seven people, including Justin, Grandpa and Uncle Terry. Pretty soon after that, Grandpa came out to where we were sitting with my buck. He was standing there, saying 'Oh my God ... Oh my God!' Next came Justin, and he started taking pictures with his cell phone and sending them to his friends. Then Uncle Terry came and was like, 'Well, Worm, are you gonna quit huntin' now, or are you gonna keep on huntin?'
"I looked at him and said, 'I'm gonna keep on huntin','" Alexis replied.
"Well, you ain't ever gonna get another one that's as big as this," he added.
"Then we all laughed and talked about how big its antlers were," said Alexis.
"When I shot, it ran toward our truck and fell only 10 yards from it. Dad and Justin got it out of the brush, but it required all four men to hoist it onto the truck's bed. We all sat there and laughed some more and talked about the buck, everybody telling me how lucky I was, before driving back to the house. We went inside and drank some pops and had a snack," she added.
Afterward, it was time to take the buck to the check station.
"There were only two other people at the check station, so we didn't stay there very long. We took it back to the house to hang it. That's when a bunch of people came over to see it, and everybody stood around telling hunting stories," she added.
Hunter: Alexis Kemp
Official Score: 177 2/8"
Composite Score: 195 1/8"
-- Reprinted from the September 2009 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine.