Tagging A Unicorn

White-Tailed Deer


Tagging A Unicorn

Posted 2015-09-14T09:32:00Z  by  Michael Pendley

Rack Report Details
Time of Year:Sept. 5, 2015
Place: Grant County, KY
Weapon: Hoyt Vixen  Bowhunting 

The pressure was on for Brooke Jones. For the past two seasons, she had taken a velvet buck on the opening weekend of the Kentucky archery season. The stakes were a bit higher this season. Brooke and her fiancé, Daniel Justin, had been patterning a couple of big bucks in the months leading up to the season opener.

They didn't plan to hunt the biggest of the lot, a buck they called Unicorn for the extra tine jutting from his forehead. They knew his deal from the previous two seasons. The buck would be a regular in the weeks and months leading up to season, only to disappear just before opening day and not return to the farm for most of the remaining season. Like clockwork, the buck would show back up around the end of the year, busted up and tired looking.

There were early signs that this season may be different. Unicorn was using a different part of the farm than in years past. He was much less regular as well, staying gone for days at a time, then showing up at random times, mostly in the middle of the night.

The second largest buck showing on the cameras was much more patternable, and the couple decided to concentrate on him for opening morning. The camera showed the buck passing by a stand just about every morning between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. Daniel and Brooke made the decision to get there well in advance of daylight and wait him out. They woke up extra early, showered, treated their clothes with scent control, and headed to the woods, climbing into their stands hours before shooting light.

As the morning sky around them began to lighten, Brooke made the decision to stand and wait out the buck. She was shooting her new Hoyt Vixen and wanted to make sure she was in position for a possible shot without a lot of extra movement.

She didn't have to stand long. At 7 a.m., Brooke whispered to Daniel that she could see a buck. But it wasn't the buck they were after. It was Unicorn, and he was coming in from directly downwind of the couple.

I saw the buck coming, and I saw him catch our scent," Daniel said. "He took three backwards steps from where he had been and stood, slightly angling away, at 35 yards.

Brooke was confident in her gear and her ability to make the shot. She drew, settled on the buck's shoulder, and sent a broadhead toward the buck. The shot was true, and the buck turned to run from sight at the hit.

I was recording the shot, and I went back and looked at the shot placement, said Justin. The shot looked good, and I was pretty confident that we had him.

Brooke added that they waited about 15 minutes and could see a large brown spot along the forest floor in the same direction Unicorn had gone. We thought that might be him, she said.

Daniel was concerned that the shot might have hit the buck higher than he thought, downing him with a spine shot.

We got down and went over to the brown spot, only to find out that it was a shredded log, Daniel said. The couple searched the area where Unicorn had stood at the shot.

We found some spotty red blood with bubbles, but a few drops of dark blood as well. I was worried about a liver hit, so we backed out, said Daniel.

Around 8:30, their hunting partner Matt Willen arrived from his hunting area. The three found the trail and begin to follow.

For the first 50 yards, the blood was sparse and spotty. Fifty yards from the spot of the shot, we found the arrow. From that point on, the blood trail was heavy and easy to follow, said Daniel. They found Unicorn just 50 yards farther down the trail. The shot had been perfect, clipping the top of the heart, taking out the lungs and just catching the liver as it angled back.

I was so excited, I could hear Daniel's heart beating, but it could have been mine," Brooke said. "There were definitely tears of joy when we found him.

Brooke's velvet buck was aged by the taxidermist at 6.5 years old and scored roughly 175 inches. The pressure will definitely be on for Brooke to continue her streak next season and make it four opening weekends in a row.

In the meantime, Daniel has a buck of his own to chase.

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