Rack Magazine

Fantasy Island

Fantasy Island

By Dale Weddle

White-tailed deer are one of the most adaptive species in North America. Urban sprawl and loss of habitat might have decimated rabbit and quail populations, but acorn and stick munchers continue to thrive in the shadows of our biggest cities.

Just ask R.C. Rogers of Louisville, Kentucky, who hunts a relatively small 35 acres surrounded by urban development.

“It’s really just a little piece of cover with a road nearby,” he said. “The center is bush-hogged every year. The sides of that are all thickets with lots of hardwoods. There’s no cropland anywhere close to the area.

“Deer have to rely on the oak mast and browse for food,” he added.

The hunting spot close to R.C.’s workplace and home doesn’t hold a large population of whitetails, but trail cameras revealed some decent bucks were in the mix in 2017.

The one he encountered on Nov. 11 wasn’t one of them.

“Growing up, my first experience hunting was chasing after rabbits with my grandfather, Robert Roberts,” R.C. said. “I’ve been deer hunting for only five or six years.

“I have a 3 ½-year-old son, Coleman, and another, Clark, who’s 10 months. Coleman is interested in hunting. He loves looking around in Cabela’s,” R.C. said. “I bought him a little primitive bow last year. I’ll probably start him out hunting when he’s 5 or 6.”

R.C. loves his stick and string.

“Bowhunting is my favorite part of the season,” he said. “I have yet to get a deer with my bow, but I shoot a lot in my basement. That’s my next big thing.

“I’ve gotten pretty good, but it’s a whole different thing when you’re up close and your heart starts pounding,” he added.

R.C. hunted opening weekend of bow season and passed up some shots at does, but no bucks came within range. He hunted some private property in Henry County and passed up a small 8-pointer.

He’s no purist, however. He was also in the woods when Kentucky’s modern gun season opened Nov. 11, loaded for a drop-tined 5x5.

“I had a 10-pointer with a drop tine on camera,” R.C. said. “That was the deer I was hunting in the little 35-acre Jefferson County parcel. I had a ladder stand set back in a thicket. You don’t see many bucks out in the open in the middle of the tract unless they’re chasing.

“I got into my stand before daylight,” he said.

“When the sun came up, it was damp, and the temperature was about 35 degrees,” R.C. continued. “The previous day had been rainy and warm. With the falling temperatures, I felt like the deer would be moving, so I negotiated with my wife for a half-day off to hunt.

“There was a road less than 100 yards from my stand, and you can actually hear deer when they came down a steep rock wall onto the asphalt and cross the road. A little after daylight, I heard a deer come down and cross.

“As it came toward my stand, I saw it was a small 7-pointer. I had no shot because I couldn’t see its entire body. Plus, I would have been shooting toward the road. It wasn’t a responsible shot, so I passed. After that deer left, I laid my head back and relaxed.

“Later, I sprayed some Tink’s and made a few soft calls with my new grunt call. I had watched a video that came with the call and had practiced some the previous night.

“My sight distance in the thicket was limited to about 60 yards,” he added.

Soon, a monstrous whitetail stepped out about 35 yards from R.C.’s stand, and the startled hunter almost fell off his perch. The deer’s rack had multiple drop tines on one side and thick bases.

The buck had obviously heard the grunting and was looking for the responsible party.

“I’d never seen a deer like that in my life,” R.C. said. “I had no trail cam photos of it; had no idea it was on the property.”

Even a veteran hunter would’ve had a difficult time staying calm. R.C.’s seams were ready to burst.

“A hunting buddy of mine had once told me, ‘If you see a huge buck and it’s not running, and you have time, close your eyes to calm down.’ That’s what I did,” he said.

“When I opened my eyes, the buck was looking right at me. Then he slowly turned broadside. I got my gun up, put the scope on the deer and shot it. The deer bucked before and walking about 10 yards closer.

“I really freaked out,” R.C. said.

“The deer was wobbling, only about 10 yards away, when I put the scope back on it, shot again and missed,” he continued.

“Fortunately for me, the first shot had hit the deer in the heart. It took a few more steps, and then laid down and died.

“I dug out my phone and called my friend who owns the property. I told him I had just killed a monster, and it was lying just 10 yards away.

“I sat there for another 10 minutes, just taking it all in before I got down and walked over to my deer,” he said.

Copyright 2024 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd