Father-and-son duo, Robbie and Garrett Ammons, outsmarted two mature bucks during Kentucky's 2022 archery opener and have the velvet to prove it.
Four years ago, the Ammons started leasing rights to hunt a farm 60 miles southwest of Louisville in Hardin County. The farm biennially rotates between two of the whitetail's favorite dishes, corn and soybeans. Robbie and Garrett found an impressive shed that would have measured about 168 inches on the hoof. They captured the deer on a Tactacam Reveal cellular camera the following summer during a soybean cycle.
"We located him on camera regularly that second year, which would've been beans. There were photos of him at night, but we never laid eyes on him throughout bow and rifle season," Garrett said. "The following year (2021), the crops rotated to corn, and we put out cameras and feed and never once got a picture of him. We wrote him off and thought he was dead."
This past June, the crops were rotated back to beans, and Robbie set eyes on a large-framed buck while scouting one afternoon. He wasn't certain it was the same deer until they put out trail cameras and feed the following month and began comparing photos. The buck would slip in after dark and leave before daylight to bed in some thick undergrowth previously clearcut for its cedar, poplar and white oak.
"Two years ago, he had kickers off his left G2, and this year he had one big kicker off his right G2," Robbie said. "Same frame, same brow tines - he just kept growing. As we got to August, we knew this was more than likely him."
Robbie had a favorable wind opening morning and caught the 13-point giant exiting the beans around 7:30 a.m. He made good on the 24-yard shot, connecting behind the buck's shoulder.
"I knew why he called me when he did, because he isn't going to call anyone at 7:30 in the morning just to chit chat on the phone on opening day of deer season," Garrett laughed. "He was tore up."
But the Ammons weren't done.
That afternoon, Garrett split from a bachelor party he was attending and climbed a tree on the opposite side of the farm. He sat 20 feet up on the corner of a cornfield next to a creek bed with a wall of large timber behind it. He was hoping to get a look at a 12-pointer that appeared on his trail camera for the first time on July 24 at 3 a.m.
"An hour before dark, my buddies are sending me pictures of it flooding at their place, so I knew there was a chance for rain," Garrett said. "The sun got behind some clouds, so it cooled off a little bit. There was a little breeze, but it never rained. I got out there early, and the wind was right."
"Two does, an 8-pointer and a scrub buck come out and started to feed, so I was keeping an eye on everything, making sure they weren't paying attention to me," he continued.
The first thing Garrett noticed when the 12-pointer stepped out was how powdery velvet looked as it exited the weeds and headed for the corn pile. He measured the distance to the corn at 22 yards, set his single-pin sight, and when the buck turned broadside, he sent an arrow through both lungs.
"It was a very special moment to share with my dad," he said. "I wouldn't be the hunter or man I am today if it wasn't for him. He's taught me everything about hunting. It was special getting to stand over that deer while talking to dad. We share a lot of memories in the woods, but this one topped them all without a doubt."
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