Wildlife officials at the Fort Campbell military base believe a deer shot in 2019 is the offspring of a giant whitetail hit by a truck there a couple of years earlier.
The former, which was still in velvet when it met its demise, scored 254 inches and was Buckmasters’ Deer of the Year for 2018. The latter, which tallies 224, is the new Tennessee record among shotgun harvests.
The deer felled by shotgun was taken by Don Gregory of Stewart, Tennessee, who quit deer hunting for 17 years before his friends persuaded him to rejoin the fold and accompany them on the U.S. Army post.
Don had hunted the area before laying down his gun, and he didn’t care for the crowds.
Fort Campbell consists of 105,000 mostly undeveloped acres in Kentucky’s Christian and Trigg counties, and in Tennessee’s Stewart and Montgomery counties. To hunt it, one must apply for permits through a lottery-type system, and winners do not find out where they’ll be assigned until the morning of the hunt.
The first five times Don visited the base that year, he drew a different area each day. He was most impressed with the fifth section he hunted.
“Half of it was open fields that were used as a parachute drop zone. The rest had been timbered and grown back up in thick undergrowth. Several oaks had been left, and there was a good acorn crop,” Don told Dale Weddle, who’s writing the story for Rack magazine.
The place was riddled with buck sign, too, and he saw a half-dozen does and five bucks that day.
“A week later, I got lucky and drew the same area,” he said.
Don watched the Sept. 16 sunrise from a tree he’d noticed on his first visit. Almost immediately, he saw a doe and a spike. The next whitetail he spotted put a lump in his throat.
The deer with the wide rack might’ve been shadowing a doe that ran to within 25 yards of Don’s tree. Her follower was in no hurry.
Don wound up dropping the 23-pointer with a 55-yard shot from his Browning 12 gauge (rifles aren’t allowed).
The base’s game wardens are convinced the deer carried the genes from the famous 254-inch Fort Campbell roadkill that was Buckmasters’ Deer of the Year for 2018.
Because that one was hit by a truck, Don’s 224-incher is the largest hunter-taken buck ever recorded from the Army post. It’s also the new Tennessee record among shotgun harvests.
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