A full day afield ends with an evening hunt for the buck of a lifetime
|Rack Report Details|
|Time of Year:||September 2, 2023|
|Place:||Nelson County, KY|
Kentucky hunter Chandler Barnes loves to spend every second of his free time in the outdoors. He squeezed every available drop out of Saturday, September 2.
Barnes started the day on the lake, then headed to the dove field for a quick family hunt. He finished the evening in his deer stand in search of a monster buck he’d been watching for three years.
“The first year he showed up, he had a heavy ear-tip-wide rack with some junk and a kicker, but what made him stand out was an injury to his leg. I think he’d probably been hit by a car. His leg was pretty skinned up and he had a limp, but he seemed to be doing ok, so we just watched him all season and hoped he would hang around and pack on some antler,” said Barnes.
Barnes went from the lake, to a family dove hunt, then to the deer stand on Kentucky’s opening day.
The buck did just that. The next season he ballooned up into a 160-class deer. Barnes never got a shot at him, but knew he was still in the area. A late winter shed hunt turned up one side, assuring him that the buck had made it through the season.
After finding his shed early this spring, Barnes knew the buck had made it through the season.
Barnes is a big fan of Whitetail Institute food plots and maintains several in his hunting area. The buck was a regular in one of the plots all summer. After years of hunting this farm, he had a pretty good idea where the buck was bedding and hung a stand along a good trail midway between there and the food plot.
On August 1, the legal starting date to put out bait in Kentucky, Barnes dropped some corn in front of the stand and hung some cameras. It didn’t take long for the big buck to become a regular.
“He was like clockwork all month. The wind was a little questionable for opening day, but I knew that he would be leaving his summer pattern soon and I wanted to get in there while he was still traveling that route on a regular basis,” said Barnes.
The buck was a regular in the month leading up to the beginning of season.
After leaving early from his nearby family dove hunt, Barnes climbed into his stand about 5 pm. He’d been there about 30 minutes when a doe and two fawns came in behind him. “I’d purposely entered the stand from the opposite side from where the buck usually came from so he wouldn’t cross my scent trail. That doe came in directly over the path I took to come in,” he said.
The old doe caught a scent she didn’t like and got nervous. Soon, more does came in and milled around Barnes’ stand location. A few minutes later, an 8 point charged in and chased the does from the area. Two more bucks soon followed. Barnes was on high alert for the buck he was after.
Then a stick snapped almost directly under his stand. “I was born blind in my right eye, so I had to physically turn my head to look down and behind me. It was the big buck and he was standing directly below me and I didn’t have a shot,” said Barnes.
The big buck stood under him for 2-3 minutes before making his way toward the other deer. When the buck turned broadside at just 15 yards, Barnes came to full draw. “That buck heard me draw my bow. He didn’t know exactly where the sound came from, but he turned to look in my direction,” said Barnes. “I told myself, ‘This is it. You better make it count,’ and released the arrow.”
The shot was good and the buck only went 50 yards before crashing.
The shot looked perfect. The big buck crashed out of sight and Barnes thought he heard him crash. The sound from the other deer busting through the woods gave him just enough doubt that he wasn’t sure.
“I called my wife, then I called the rest of my family who were still at the dove field. A few minutes later I could hear the trucks and ATVs heading my way. I got down and we looked at the video from the Tactacam video camera I had on my stabilizer. The shot looked good. After waiting 45 minutes, we went in to look for blood,” said Barnes.
The 10 point main frame had heavy mass and four additional kicker points.
The trail was short. The buck had only gone 50 yards. Once he had his hands on the rack, Barnes marveled at the size. The 10-point main frame had 4 kickers and massive main beams that measured 24 inches. Both G2s were over 13 inches and the right one featured a deep fork. After getting the buck home and putting a tape to the rack, Barnes came up with a green gross score of 185 ⅝, his largest buck ever.
“My wife killed a 164-inch buck off the same food plot back in 2019, and honestly, I never thought we’d top that one on this farm,” added Barnes.
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