Everybody Loves a Big Velvet Buck
|Rack Report Details|
|Time of Year:||September 3, 2016|
|Weapon:||Mathews Bow Bowhunting|
Denny Conley is a shed hunter. When winter starts to slowly lose its grip to early spring, Denny straps on his boots and goes to work. I typically find up to 75 sheds a year, I spend a lot of time out walking and searching, Conley said. Last spring was no different, finding Denny out searching new areas for cast antlers.
I stopped at a new farm and asked if I could walk it looking for sheds, he said. Permission was granted and Denny hit the ground running. I had probably walked seven or eight miles that day and hadn't found a single shed, then I hit an overgrown field and there it was, just gleaming in the sun, said Conley. What he had found was a single shed that made him catch his breath. The antler was so big, that he immediately returned to talk to the landowner about leasing the farm. I didn't know if the buck was still there, or even still alive, or if he actually lived on the farm or had just been passing through, he said. But the size of the antler made it worth the risk.
Once June rolled around, Denny started scouting the farm. There was a large creek on it that separated alfalfa and standing corn from a thick bedding area. Conley zeroed in on the pinch points at creek crossings for camera locations. His hunch was dead on. The third photo he checked was the buck that had dropped the massive shed the spring before.
Once the hunter knew the buck was there, his next step was to zero in on its pattern. Denny ran cameras the rest of the summer, noting with relief that the huge deer followed a consistent pattern from day to day. Each morning would find the buck feeding along the corn and alfalfa fields, then following the creek crossings to the thick bedding location.
As the archery opener drew close, Denny went in and hung three stand sets along the creek crossings the buck used most often. I knew the creek was my only way in without spooking the deer. I would just have to wade to my stand location in the dark, way before shooting light, Conley said.
Opening morning found him putting his plan into motion. Denny silently waded the creek to his stand nearly three hours before shooting light so that he could be settled in place before the buck started back to his bed. The deer was consistent about his morning path, but not about the times, Conley said. Sometimes he would cross the creek well into the morning, but sometimes he would be there at daylight. I didn't want to risk him being close when I got there, so I went in really early.
As daylight began to break, Denny could see deer across the alfalfa field. A quick look through the binoculars revealed a trio of bucks. The smaller two were nice, both probably big enough to make the Pope and Young record book, but the third buck was the giant he was after.
It took them nearly an hour to cross the field. After I was sure they were headed this way, I turned away. I couldn't stand to watch, said Conley. Even though he didn't watch the entire trip, Denny did glance back often enough to know the deer were getting closer.
When the trio of bucks neared shooting range, Conley got ready. The bucks traveled down the crossing trail in single file, with the monster bringing up the rear. As the second buck passed his stand, Denny got ready. The big buck worked his way closer and closer. At 37 yards, the deer stopped and offered a shot. Denny drew his bow and released. The hit was solid, maybe a touch high, but still good.
Conley waited as long as he could. Even though he has killed several big bucks with his bow in the past few years (including a 163-inch bruiser last season), the huge buck he had just shot had him more excited than he had ever been. I don't usually get too worked up, but this buck had me tore all to pieces. I was shaking all over, Conley said.
The blood trail was good, but the buck went a bit farther than expected. After trailing the deer for 200 yards, Denny finally laid eyes on his buck. With a total of 14 scoreable points and exceptional mass, the buck gross green scored around 195 inches. Except for a few fresh nicks from his run, the velvet was perfect. Despite the fact that the buck won't be eligible for the Boone and Crockett Record Book, Denny plans on getting the deer mounted with the velvet intact. Denny said, I have wanted a velvet buck forever and finally got one, I am not about to strip it off just to get it entered in the record book.
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