Does an explosive covey rise provide as much cardio as staring down a world-class whitetail with only a bow in hand?
Perkins, Oklahoma, gym owner Justin Kimmel says no, and he should know. The 32-year-old fitness wiz with six-pack abs didn't always feel this way. He was a devout bird hunter until he was lured into the bowhunting fold five years ago.
Weary of hunting alone from October through December, since all his pals seem more interested in deer, he decided to see what all the hype was about, and he certainly did. Justin skewered his first buck less than two weeks after trading his shotgun for archery gear.
Among the places he hunts is a 70-acre tract loaded with persimmon trees, cedars, some real thick woods and a little valley. It's only 10 minutes from his house. He also babysits a 200-acre wheat field, though he doesn't see as many deer in the green.
Midsummer in 2021, a whitetail with bases like Bonsai trees began coming to Justin's feeder daily. He recognized it as one he'd been watching for three seasons.
The first time he saw the deer in the flesh this year, it was making a scrape 80 yards from him, too far for a bow shot. Their paths crossed again on Monday, Oct. 11, not quite 30 minutes after sundown. The deer was less than 50 yards away, working another scrape.
Justin drew his bow, but he couldn't see his sights.
“My adrenaline was flowing like crazy,” he said.
Man and deer's third and final encounter came the following Friday.
He took his girlfriend Melissa's son, Max, hunting on Oct. 15, opening day of Oklahoma's youth season, and the boy shot an 11-pointer at 8:00. After dutifully acknowledging the kid's accomplishment, he looked at him and said, “You know what this means, right?”
Justin was afield again, by himself, at 4 p.m. The old double ladder stand a friend had given him is a half-mile from where he parks.
Deer were active that day. He saw plenty of does and small bucks before he realized the bull of the woods was approaching.
“I knew something else was out there, and it was coming toward me. I saw which deer it was when it crossed a lane just 10 yards away, real quick,” he said.
He shot the buck maybe 8 seconds after laying eyes on it.
“Even though I'd seen the pics, once I had this buck on the ground, it was a lot different. I was really excited when I found it. The mass on this deer is unbelievable. It's crazy,” he said.
Justin believes the suspected 5 1/2-year-old 21-pointer will score between 180 and 190 inches. It wasn't a particularly big-bodied deer, but its antlers took the early lead in his group's bragging rights pool.
— Read Recent Blog! Shades of Gray: Conrad Reding's deer scores 191 1/8 inches as an Irregular under Buckmasters' system.