Passing on a nice buck opening day allowed Kentucky hunter Bobby Wales to take a velvet monster just two days later
|Rack Report Details|
|Time of Year:||Sept. 4, 2023|
|Place:||Bullitt County, Kentucky|
|Weapon:||Bow: Mathews V3X|
There is no denying that a trail camera over an established mineral lick is a great way to monitor deer movement during summer. Kentucky hunter Bobby Wales and his buddies put this system to work this year to get photos of a massive buck on their hunting farm.
“There is one section of our farm that always seems to hold big bucks during the summer months,” he said. “For years now, we’ve blended our own mineral mix and established licks in front of all of our stands. Trouble is, there is absolutely no cell service in that area, so we have to use old-fashioned regular trail cameras and just go check them every week.”
An established mineral lick kept the buck in the area all summer.
One of the first checks of the year for 2023 yielded photos of a massive 10-point main-frame velvet buck with a few kickers. “We knew this buck,” Wales said. “All of us passed him last year as a 4-year-old. It’s hard to let those bucks walk, but we know they can’t reach their maximum potential without age.”
The big buck was a regular visitor for most of the summer, disappearing for only a week or two in mid-August before returning to his normal schedule. The buck regularly ran with another mature deer that was only slightly smaller. “The other buck was lopsided, so we named him ‘Funky,’” Wales said. “If it wasn’t for the big buck, he would probably have made this year’s list.”
In the days before the season, Wales was regularly getting up to 2,700 photos a week. Confidence was high that he would see plenty of deer from the stand.
Even though only 90 minutes had elapsed between the shot and locating the buck, coyotes had already found and started to consume the deer.
Wales had positioned his stand so that he could enter and exit without spooking any deer from the area. Opening day saw the expected deer movement, including the lopsided buck, Funky, at just 20 yards. Wales made the tough decision to pass on the mature buck, knowing the even bigger buck was still in the area. Wales saw 15 deer that day.
Sunday movement was slower, but he still saw a nice 10-point come by the stand. Monday was more of the same until just before dark. “The 10 I’d seen the past two days came in,” he said. “He started acting nervous. He tucked his tail and moved away. I thought maybe it was a big 8 I’d seen, or maybe even Funky coming back in.”
Passing on a slightly smaller shooter buck opening day led Wales to this very symmetrical trophy with 12-inch G2s.
It wasn’t. Out stepped the big 10 at just 18 yards. He was quartering hard to Wales. Worried about the shot angle, he held off. “A couple of years ago, I had a big 180-class buck come in,” he said. “He was [at a] hard angle away, and I took the shot, thinking it would slip the broadhead right into the zone. Instead, the arrow must have glanced off the rib and ran down the buck’s side. We tracked that deer forever and found the last bed right next to a road. No deer. We don’t really know what happened.”
Wales patiently waited for the big buck to give him a better angle. “That’s what is so fun about hunting big mature bucks like this,” he said. “He stood there licking his nose 12 or 13 times, testing the air for any kind of scent.” Finally convinced the coast was clear, the buck turned toward the younger buck. The younger buck spooked a bit and stomped. The big buck turned away, leaving him broadside at just 20 yards.
Wales came to full draw and released his arrow. It looked and sounded like a good shot, and Wales listened as the buck crashed through the underbrush. Then everything got quiet. He slipped out and went back to his truck. Soon, his brother Scotty and good friends and hunting buddies Kasey Kiper and Russel Flynn showed up to hear the description of the hunt. “As soon as I texted that I had just shot the big buck, they all three immediately left their stands to come help,” he said.
Wales had made the shot around 7:45 p.m. At 9:15 p.m., his buddies suggested they go start the track. “I was a little reluctant,” he said. “I didn’t want to take a chance on losing another monster. I even called my dad to tell him what had happened and told him that if we didn’t find this buck, I was going to hang up my bow.”
Knowing his buddies had to be at work early the next morning, he agreed to head in to track the buck. The Nockturnal lighted nock made finding his arrow easy. It had blood, but not as much as he had hoped. The first 10 to 15 yards of the trail yielded no blood. Wales’ uneasiness grew. Then a half-dollar size drop of blood. Then another. Soon the hunters were following a massive blood trail coming from both sides of the buck. They soon got to a fence and had to check with the landowner to make sure it was OK to follow. After getting permission, the hunters continued.
“We’ve been hunting this farm for 26 years,” Wales said. “I’ve killed deer here before, and they almost always went straight to the nearby pond.” Sure enough, the blood trail soon turned toward the water. Wales looked up to see his buck lying on a large, flat rock shelf at the edge of the water. Even though only 90 minutes had elapsed since the time of the shot, coyotes had already found the buck, eating large chunks of the hams and dragging the buck across the rock, skinning the tight velvet along one side.
The buck had a heavy 10-point main frame with a few kickers.
After recovering the buck and getting it home, Wales and crew put a tape to the rack and came up with 190-4/8 inches. A trip to nearby sporting goods retailer Kentucky Gun Co. to enter the deer into its buck contest came up with a score of 189-3/8. “I had the head in a bag where it had been in the freezer,” Wales said. “I went in and told them I had a deer to score. They mentioned that if the deer wasn’t at least 130, there was probably no point in entering it. I told them I thought it might pass that up a bit. When the guy came out and opened the bag, he immediately called several of the other guys from inside to come check him out.” The buck’s rack featured 24-inch main beams and 11- and 12-inch G2s and G3s.
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