Rack Magazine

All in the Family

All in the Family

By Dale Weddle

A Butler did it. In Kentucky. With a rifle.

Family members weren’t surprised when they heard about the buck Allie Butler shot last year in Breckinridge County, Kentucky. It’s a wonder the 24-year-old hadn’t bested all their bucks sooner than she did.

Allie took to hunting like a duck to water.

“I don’t guess she had a chance,” her father Doug related, shaking his head. “She was hunting and trapping with me before she could walk. She shot her first deer when she was 9 or 10. When she grew older, she would go out hunting in the rain, sleet or snow. The weather didn’t matter.”

Allie already was an accomplished hunter before the 2015 season arrived. She’d harvested 10 whitetails.

The story behind her big whitetail actually began two years earlier, when Dale Butler and a friend happened to drive by an alfalfa field late one evening and spotted the giant deer with another good buck.

“My Uncle Dale had been running three or four trail cameras before he saw the big 10,” Allie laughed.

“Afterward was when he went crazy buying cameras. I don’t know how many he had, but it was probably closer to 40 than four.”

The 2013 season passed without anyone in the family encountering the buck. Allie’s father found the deer’s left shed antler on March 1, which confirmed the animal had survived.

When the 2014 season opened that fall, Dale was running even more cameras. The buck — even bigger than it had been the previous year — was first photographed on Nov. 5.

After bowhunting one morning a week later, Doug was walking out of the woods and jumped the deer. It and a doe had been bedded in a thicket near the edge of a cornfield. That was the last anyone saw of the buck that season.

On the morning of March 11, 2015, Dale found the deer’s sheds lying almost on top of each other. That afternoon, he stumbled across the right side of the 2014 rack, the mate to the antler he’d picked up a year earlier.

The family of hunters could only imagine what the deer would look like if it were still alive when the 2015 season opened.

After seeing the first trail cam photo on Nov. 3, Dale Butler was more determined to tag the big deer.

All in the FamilyOn the morning of Nov. 7, Dale stepped into his climbing stand and ratcheted himself up a tree at the edge of a thicket bordering a bean field. After three does passed through, Dale saw the huge buck approaching.

Thoroughly rattled, Dale started looking for an opening big enough to accommodate an arrow. He picked a spot and drew his bow, but the deer passed through the window too quickly for him to shoot.

There wasn’t another window.

Dale said he’d been shaking so badly that he had to brace his rangefinder against the tree in order to get a reading.

The state’s gun season opened seven days later. When the sun came up that Saturday morning, Allie was sitting in a box-type treestand with her .30-06. She had dreamt of killing the big deer over which her family had been obsessing.

It was a slow day.

“It was probably my worst morning ever,” Allie said, adding that the afternoon wasn’t much better. “There just wasn’t anything moving.”

Allie tried a different setup Sunday morning.

“I went to a stand I had never hunted,” she said. “I thought it might bring me luck. It was situated over a harvested bean field.

“The stand is in a cedar tree and kind of tricky to get into,” she continued. “There’s a ladder that goes up so far, and then you have to climb the rest of the way on limbs. Dad walked out to the spot with me about a half-hour before daylight. He helped me get my gun up, and made sure I was all set.

“About a half-hour later, a little 6-point buck came out chasing a doe all over the place. All total, I saw about eight deer that morning, including a funny little spike,” Allie said.

“During lunch, Dad and I discussed where I was going to hunt that evening. I wanted to go back to the same place because of the hot doe and the other deer. He told me: ‘If you go back there, you’ll have to be real still because you’ll be out in the sun, and they can see you,’” she said.

She went back there.

All in the Family“Late that afternoon, I was sitting down when a doe suddenly appeared,” Allie said. “The next thing I saw was antlers. The buck was impressive, but I didn’t realize it was THE big one.

“It was a little more than 200 yards away,” she continued. “I could shoot sitting down, so I just put the scope on it. When the deer slowed a little, I dropped it right in its tracks.

“I texted Dad: ‘I shot a good one‘ About that time, Dale texted me: ‘Was that you who shot?‘ And I told him about shooting the buck. By that time, it was around 5:30, does were all over the field, and it was getting dark.”

Doug had been hunting about 500 yards from his daughter. After hearing the shot, he had trouble contacting Allie due to issues with his phone, but soon met her at the base of the cedar tree. They walked the 240 yards together to the dead deer.

When Doug grabbed the rack and lifted it, they saw the forked brow tines and knew the hunt for the Big 10 had come to a close.

A careful comparison with a single shed antler found by Allie’s brother Zachary in 2009 caused the Butler family to think it also came from Allie’s buck.

That would have made the deer well over 6 years old when it was finally harvested.

This article was published in the April 2016 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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