The Disappearing Buck, Josh Harlow's Kentucky Monster
|Rack Report Details
|Time of Year:
|September 7, 2022
|Barren County, Kentucky
|Mathews Creed XS
Josh Harlow wasn't surprised to see the big buck on his trail camera. The deer had been a regular on his trail cameras for the past three years, showing up about turkey season and staying until mid-August. Like clockwork, the buck would then disappear just before deer season, never to return until the following spring.
Last year, Harlow was lucky enough to have another big buck show up during season, and he was able to close the deal on that 160-inch stud.
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This spring, sure enough, the elusive big buck showed up again on Harlow's cameras. The buck and another mature deer were regulars throughout the summer. Harlow watched the buck grow and grow. He knew the buck would end as a true trophy, but he also wondered if the buck would leave — just like he always had. For some reason, in the back of my mind, I wondered if he might stay this year, Harlow said. In late August, Harlow got the last photos of the bucks before they again disappeared, just like they always had.
With no photos of this buck or any other shooters, Harlow didn't even plan to hunt early in the season. Then, on the morning of September 7, he got a cell camera alert on his phone. He looked down to see a daylight photo of the big buck at his stand location. He was there kind of late in the morning, and he was in the process of shedding his velvet…so I didn't think he would go far before bedding down.
Harlow made the decision to head to the stand for an evening hunt.
He climbed up early, around 4 pm. Harlow had what he thought would be a good wind for the direction deer normally approached. Over the next two hours, a total of six deer came in, but not the big buck Harlow was after.
Soon, Harlow heard another deer approaching from directly down wind. It was the big buck. The deer walked straight to an established salt lick just 15 yards from Harlow's stand. He stood there, facing me, for a full 15-20 minutes. I know he was there that long because my camera was taking photos of him the entire time. I had plenty of time to look at him, but no shot opportunity. I thought he was about a 175-inch buck, Harlow said.
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Both deer and hunter soon heard other deer approaching. It was two young bucks heading down the same trail the big buck was standing on. The buck soon turned to look at the approaching deer. That gave Harlow a slight quartering-to shot. When the buck moved his near front leg forward to take a step, Harlow took advantage and slipped an arrow right behind the buck's foreleg.
The buck bolted and cleared 60 yards in seconds. Harlow lost sight of the deer in the dense cover. He was pretty sure the arrow was still in the buck and worried that the blood trail might be light.
I was pretty tore up by that point. I called my wife, and then my hunting buddies to let them know what had happened, Harlow said. After giving the buck an hour, he got down and followed the trail the buck had taken. There was no arrow and no blood. When he got to the spot where the buck had disappeared into the cover, he found a single speck of blood. Worried about the lack of a blood trail, Harlow considered backing out.
I decided to go just a few more yards, looked up, and saw his white belly, Harlow said.
The buck was bigger than he expected. The 10-point main frame held an additional seven kicker points. The rack featured incredible mass, with the last mass measurement being even larger than the base measurement. Harlow's taxidermist came up with 196 inches green score. The buck weighed over 200 pounds field dressed. I sent the jawbone to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife to get it aged, Harlow said.
When Harlow stopped to show the buck to the landowner, the farmer brought out one of the buck's shed antlers from an earlier year. He had ran over it and picked it up in his tractor tire, Harlow said.
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