Don’t be too eager to hang up your camo and shove your boots in the closet.
Less than a week after watching helplessly as the buck of his dreams hurried out of his life, Kentucky bowhunter Kasey Alexander got a rare chance to rewrite his story’s ending.
Kasey has a knack for connecting with big farmland bucks in western Kentucky. The proof hangs on his walls.
Prior to 2015, his finest was a 170-class buck he took in 2014. After notching his belt that season, he spent the rest of the year checking out the other bucks in that corner of Webster County.
“One buck in particular interested me,” Kasey said. “It wasn’t real impressive because its tines were short, but I could tell it had potential. I encouraged my friend, who was hunting in the area, to pass up the deer if he saw it, so we could see what it would grow into the next year.
“After the season was over, I got one opportunity to watch that buck in a picked cornfield from 75 yards. It had broken off a lot of points, but its body size was really impressive,” he added. “He looked like a Brahma bull with antlers!”
Kasey put out 17 trail cameras in the summer of 2015, numerous ones on each farm he could hunt. It didn’t take long for him to collect images of the short-tined buck.
Three of the cameras were cranking out photographs of the big whitetail almost daily, from when it wore only nubs through its metamorphosis into a full-blown freak.
“It was a big old gnarly looking thing, but it still had short tines,” he said. “The buck’s rack made me think of an alligator’s back, so I decided to call it Gator.”
Kasey spent the early part of bow season videotaping a friend’s hunts, but there was no sign of Gator. His fared no better while hunting Kentucky’s early muzzleloader season. Determined to kill the big gnarly racked brute, he wound up passing on a super impressive 8-pointer.
And then November and the rut arrived.
Most of Kasey’s trail cams were set up on mineral licks or corn. However, he had hung one camera beside a creek crossing. The crossing was in a draw within a 200-yard strip of woods between a cornfield and a food plot.
Scouting, observation, and reading sign had led Kasey to believe Gator was bedding on a ridge up above the draw. He carefully positioned a hang-on stand about 30 yards from the crossing, 21 feet up a white oak. The location would allow him to shoot in several directions and cover most angles on deer coming off the ridge en route to either the cornfield or food plot.
“I got off work about 8:00 Friday morning, Nov. 6,” said Kasey. “It had poured rain all night, but had finally let up. The wind was just right to hunt the stand down in the draw.
“I stopped by and took the card out of a camera by the food plot on the way. I climbed up into the stand, put my bow on a hanger, and then started flipping through the photos. There were no pictures of the big buck on the card.
“After that, I sort of lost confidence in my hunt,” he continued. “About 20 minutes later, I heard a noise to my right. Some turkeys were coming down the ditch in the draw. Then I heard something in the other direction and turned back left.
“This buck was standing about 20 yards away from me. At first, all I could see were his legs. When he moved, I could see his head and thought Man, it’s him!
“He had me in a bad situation. My bow was on the hanger, and the way he was looking, I couldn’t move without him seeing me. I just sort of crossed my arms and put my head down and watched him. He had moved in so close that I could have spit on him,” Kasey said.
“The buck stood there for a full minute. Then something suddenly startled him, and he turned and started moving away from me. I grabbed my bow, stood and drew the string back, all at the same time.
“I put the pin on him, but he was facing away, and I didn’t have a good shot. I bleated to try to get him to turn, but he just trotted away at the sound. After it was over, I was all torn up,” he said.
“It got dark about 5:15, and I got down and headed out. As I was crossing the drain, I made an amazing discovery. I found both of Gator’s sheds from the previous year. I continued walking and passed by the camera on the food plot as I went.
“I thought I had probably missed my chance to kill the big buck. I didn’t go back to hunt that stand until the following Wednesday morning, Nov. 11. When I checked the wind –it was good – I decided to go back and hunt the draw again, stopping to pick up the camera card on the way in like I’d done before.
“It was about 8 a.m. when I got situated in the white oak. There was a photo of me walking out past the camera at 5:30 p.m. as I left the previous Friday. A little over half an hour later, at 6:06 p.m., was a picture of Gator.
“After seeing the photo, I knew I hadn’t scared him, and he was still comfortable in the area,” Kasey continued.
“I hunted until about 11 a.m. without seeing anything. Then I got down and went to the nearby grocery store for a sandwich. I was back in the stand by 1:30.
“There was a dead snag that had been blocking a shooting lane, and I cut that down before climbing back into the white oak.
“I’m really big on beating a deer’s nose. I’ve used an Ozonics scent-control device the last several deer I’ve taken. I also spray down with a homemade scent spray and put on scent-control clothing.
“There was a perfect, slight northwest wind that day,” he said.
“About 2:30, an 8-pointer came cruising through. About 3:15, I heard a commotion behind me.
“A couple of yearlings and two older does were playing and chasing each other around. They finally came by me at 15 yards and walked directly downwind of me, headed toward the picked cornfield.
“All of a sudden, their heads went up and they looked down the ditch. I turned to see what they were looking at and saw this big-bodied deer coming at about 75 yard. He was also downwind and coming my way.
“I got my binoculars up and looked at him when he was at about 50 yards, and my heart stopped. I said to myself That’s him again! No way! Two opportunities in one week!
“He was coming from my right, and I’m right-handed. I’m sitting down so I can’t draw my bow on him at that point. I’m still talking to myself, saying There’s no way this is going to happen. I’m pinned down.
“He came to the crossing. I knew that if he turned and followed the does, I wouldn’t get a shot. But he wasn’t paying any attention to the does and walked past the crossing, right toward me.
“I picked an opening out in front of him that I could shoot through and waited. He was dead in front of me and five steps from the opening.
“I bleated and stopped him when he reached the opening,” Kasey continued. “At the shot, he went down. He got up ran about five steps, fell in the ditch, got up, ran about 70 yards, and then laid down just as it was getting dark.
“I called my friend, Laken Benson, and said ‘I shot Gator, but I could still see him moving when it got dark.’ I sat there about 45 minutes, and my phone went dead. I got down circled back to my truck and met Laken. He was as torn up as I was.
“It was thundering and lightning when we went back and found the arrow,” he said. “Blood was everywhere. We found him after about 20 yards, and then we began hollering and high-fiving.”
Hunter: Kasey Alexander
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