Hunting a Giant Buck in an Oklahoma Thicket

Big Game,White-Tailed Deer


Hunting a Giant Buck in an Oklahoma Thicket

Posted 2021-12-22T21:09:00Z  by  Josh Honeycutt

All Things Hunting co-host Kyle Barefield hunted hard for a big Oklahoma buck

Rack Report Details
Buck:170 1/8 inches (green score)
Time of Year:Nov. 22, 2021
Weapon: Browning X-Bolt / 6.8 Western  Rifle 

Barefield brought down the giant with his Browning X-Bolt Western Hunter chambered in the new 6.8 Western. Image by All Things Hunting

Kyle Barefield of All Things Hunting is a dedicated deer hunter. He knocks down big ones practically every year, and this season was no different. He targeted a 6 ½-year-old monster that he had on camera, and it ended up playing out in his favor.

We don't see bucks in our area make great jumps of 30 to 40 inches from year to year like some other parts of the country, Barefield said. So, we pick a few of our already-great-scoring deer that express the potential to be greater, and don't shoot them, hoping they survive.

Obviously, it worked. Last season, this buck was a mid-150s 10-pointer. They decided to pass on the deer in hopes it would make a big leap this season. It did and packed on about 20 more inches. That said, it wasn't a regular on camera. It wasn't until the fall wheat started sprouting that the deer began showing frequently. The problem? It only used the area at night.

Plan B was to try to get close to its bedding area and hunt in the thick stuff, Barefield said. There is a creek drainage that runs for about 400 yards from the wheat fields into a pond in the middle of some of the thickest brush you can imagine. The pond had an extreme (amount) of deer and buck sign around it, so I guessed that most of the deer that left the wheat were funneling down the drainage to the pond and bedding close by.

He hung a trail camera on the best trail he could find. Hours later, the big buck hit it, revealing it used that spot during daylight. A few days later, on a windy afternoon, Barefield moved in and hung a ladder stand for bowhunting, and brushed in a good rifle spot, too.

Kyle Barefield happily displays his big Oklahoma whitetail. Image by All Things Hunting

I was able to manipulate the brush and rake a trail in from behind the levee, Barefield said. This allowed me to sneak in silently and unseen to get in position at any time during the day or before daylight.

He hunted the buck numerous times during the rifle season with no luck, but each time, he was able to sneak into and out of the blind without being busted. This increased his confidence in the spot in case the buck ever decided to show itself there. He just needed a northerly or westerly wind to make it work.

Nov. 22 produced the right conditions. It was unseasonably warm, but the wind direction was right. Barefield settled into his brushed-in spot with hopes of finally seeing the giant buck.

Barefield scanned his surroundings as he waited for the action to begin. Thick brush was behind him, while grasslands and pockets of cedar trees stretched out to the right and left. In front of him was the pond and a creek drain full of dead and live cottonwood trees.

We got settled into our spot on the levee about 3 p.m., Barefield said. At about 3:30 p.m., a small buck cruised down the drain and made its way over to a fallen cottonwood tree in some thick brush.

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He spotted a deer standing up in the brush, and Barefield immediately recognized it as his target buck. The small buck left, but the big buck just stood like a statue facing away from me for more than five minutes, Barefield said. I knew there had to be a doe with him in there. I hoped she would not get up and take him away before I could shoot.

A few minutes later, the doe stood up and walked toward the pond. The buck and doe stopped about 75 yards away, offering a quartering-to shot opportunity. Barefield placed the crosshairs on the point of its shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The buck dropped in its tracks.

I needed to walk back to the truck to get a different lens to use for the recovery, Barefield said. I spent the walk thanking God for the opportunity and ability to hunt a whitetail of this caliber. The group of guys I hunt with all enjoy the process of managing deer, and hunting deer, more than killing deer. We work abnormally hard.

He and his friend, Remington Garfield, who was there with him, enjoyed the moment. They hunt with numerous others, too, and of course, all of them were happy for him. That didn't stop them from teasing him, though.

I'm not going to lie, it kind of broke my heart when I saw the picture [of] the monster, one of them said. But if there was one person besides me to kill that deer, I'm glad it was Barefield.

The Oklahoma buck ended up scoring 170 1/8 inches (green score). You can watch the hunt on Realtree 365.

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