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Tag Archives: Whitetail

Summer Bachelor Parties

“Scotty” was my first vehicle. A 1978, the pickup was in remarkable shape in the early 1990s when I started driving it. My grandfather had purchased the truck new and it sat many years after he passed away. It was a Scottsdale model and picked up the nickname from my baseball teammate Lenny Green, who rode with me most days from school to the ballpark.

Scotty was a part of many teenage memories, including carrying one of my first archery bucks

As you might imagine, I have enough memories with Scotty to fill an armored truck. Summer nights were some of the best. We spent most evenings during the hot Western New York months looking for whitetail bucks throughout Allegany County. I loved it.

While the passengers along for the ride varied, Scotty and I were the mainstays. Some nights it was Ward Craft with us, cousins Tom and Jeff made appearances, both of my brothers Doug and Mike came along from time to time, or other nights it was just my girlfriend and I burning gallons of gas looking for big bucks.

Searching for these bucks had nothing to do with early-season scouting. I very rarely hunted anywhere other than our family land – never needed a reason to. That didn’t stop me from knowing many of the giant bucks that roamed throughout the area. Finding bucks during the summer was almost like having another hunting season.

Most evenings, my parents’ old-school video camera was in tow to document deer sighting via shaky hand-held footage. I ran across a VHS recently with a compilation of highlights from one summer in 1994. There were several great bucks that summer, but even more fantastic memories. None remain stronger in my memory than the night I videoed four mature bucks feeding together only 85 or 90 yards from the road on the Knapp Farm. One was a great buck, pushing 140″ as a 10 pointer.

Gas prices make it much more difficult to hop in the car and go for a long drive to check out deer. Ironically, it’s one of the reasons my family chooses to live in Rowan County, N.C., instead of closer to Charlotte. We love the agriculture-rich terrain it affords us to be away from the city.

I’m going to make it a point to go “hunt for deer” more this summer. I know my 3-year old would love to join too. Poor girl, she is sure to get sick of the old stories from yesteryear while we’re riding around. Here’s hoping she won’t get sick of hearing about Scotty though!

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World Record Buck? We May Never Know

I may not pay very close attention to Royal weddings. But when it comes to big deer killed by hunters, few things usually slip by me.

I’m not sure how it took so long for me to learn about the absolutely magnificent deer killed by Wisconsin hunter Johnny King in 2006. While the deer itself is noteworthy, the story behind it rivals something you would read in a mystery novel.

The King buck. Image borrowed from DeerandDeerHunting.com

In fact, it’s one of those stories that leaves you scratching your noggin and wondering, “huh?”

The story is featured in a recently released exclusive from Deer & Deer Hunting and outlines the journey King has been through. It would probably be less noteworthy if the deer wouldn’t surely contend for the world record, currently held by Canada’s Milo Hanson.

Amidst shooting the deer, King also put a shot from his .30-30 into one of the buck’s main beams. It subsequently broke the main beam – a clean break that allowed for the deer to be scored as a full-framed deer. Without making a long story even longer, King tried to have the deer scored by a panel in 2007 (after driving 1,200 miles) to have Boone & Crockett executive secretary Jack Reneau decide the deer’s G3s actually were abnormal points because he felt they grew off the G2s. It was one man’s opinion.

King was left to have it scored that way (not by the panel because the abnormal points no longer met the criteria to need the panel score), having another official scorer run the official tape on the buck to a net non-typical score in the 180s.

The deer is at least 30 inches bigger than that. And B&C allows only one – the first submitted – score to be official (to keep hunters from “shopping” for a better score).

Since that time, almost every person who has scored a deer agrees that the buck did not get a fair shake and should be officially scored as a typical. Enter Reneau, who I’ve never met but can only assume refuses to relent to his original opinion and has made keeping this deer out of the books his personal quest. He refuses to let a panel review the deer, going as far as squashing two attempts for a panel to meet and discuss / score the deer.

I remember my parents teaching me that sometimes right or wrong is something you just feel in your stomach. I think my belly has an opinion here.

How hard would it be to provide an unbiased panel to officially put forth a recommendation and score on this deer? And then call it a day?

It’s almost as if Milo Hanson were the one making the decision. I just don’t get it.

It should be mentioned that AHuntersTales.com friend Brent Reneau is not beleived to be related to the B&C executive mentioned!


Peaks and Valleys of 2010 Hunting Season

On its surface, 2010 should easily go down as one of my best hunting seasons in a sliver under two decades of heading to the woods. And it was memorable – no question. I was able to kill over 300” of antler, including my all-time largest buck, hunting two of my favorite states in the Midwest. I shared camp with some of my dearest friends, and made some new ones along the way.

The tallest peak of 2010

By all accounts, it was an amazing year. But something was missing. Or perhaps it was more than one thing, but there definitely exists a void in my hunting soul when reflecting on 2010.

Looking through my hunting journal, one glaring absence is the actual number of days afield – down roughly 50% from the average number of times I made it to the woods or on the waters over the last two decades. There are many constraints to credit that to, and many of those (time with my family) pale in comparison on my list of priorities. However, I’m looking already at finding more opportunities to get outdoors in 2011.

Without question, one of the biggest holes for my 2010 season – and it’s a gaping one – was not getting the chance to get “home” to hunt my native woods in Western New York. This season was the first time since I was old enough to hunt that I didn’t step foot in my family’s woods. I vow to do all in my power to not let that happen again.

As Sage knows better than anyone, my duck hunting in 2010 has been almost nil. That’s another reason my hunting spirit is dampened. Outside of a little hunting during North Carolina’s early split, I’ve not been able to hit the water. While I plan to get on the water a little bit before the season closes later this month, this season will easily conclude with the fewest number of ducks in the freezer of recent memory.

Driven primarily by the limited time found to hunt, I’ve missed out on being able to share the woods and waters with some of my closest hunting friends. In a sport where success if more often a bonus than it is the norm, spending time with your friends rises as one of the best parts. Not being able to do that as much this year is a bit disheartening.

It’s interesting to me how things are prioritized differently as you grow older. A growing family has certainly impacted the important things in my life. That said, hunting remains among the most important pieces. There are some folks who will read that and wonder how someone could put family and hunting in the same group of important things. They will think I’m off my rocker.

I disagree.

Simply put, they both compete for our time. Will hunting ever surpass the joy of being with my family? Absolutely not. But because they’re both important to me, other decisions may be impacted to make sure they get enough of my time.

I’ve seriously considered cutting back my hobbies. And I don’t feel like I have too many. The one that often sits in the crosshairs for getting cut is golf. And every time I consider stopping altogether, I play a round just well enough to keep me interested. Additionally, it’s hard to quit golf when there are business events tied to the sport each year.

Anyone else ever in that predicament?

I don’t want to sound as if I’m complaining. The peaks that were a part of my season are some of the highest a hunter can enjoy. I’m both humbled and grateful for those. However, some of the valleys that joined the peaks in making this year unique have got me doing some evaluating.


Brock’s First Buck is a Bruiser!

Persistence can be a hunter’s best friend. It’s something that I often remind myself when my outdoor adventures don’t seem to be panning out quite as planned. After more than two decades of hunting whitetails, I’m also well aware that the closest cousin to persistence is frustration.

Brock holds his first buck, an Ohio giant!


My 13-year old nephew, Brock Albaugh, epitomized persistence this fall, parlaying many hunts and a few close calls into his first buck this morning. And a dandy it is, sporting 10 points and enough headgear to make topping it quite a challenge for the rest of his hunting career.

Brock earlier had been hunting another Ohio giant that he and his dad (my brother-in-law Jeff) had been seeing on a regular basis. After seeing the deer on several sits with his bow, Brock was nearly devastated to find out another hunter was able to take that buck a few weeks ago. Instead of getting frustrated, he decided to keep hunting. And instead of shooting a young buck that would make many a hunter proud, Brock stayed hell-bent on waiting for the right mature whitetail to make his way by him.

Brock, 13, passed several marginal deer awaiting his chance at a mature buck


Can you imagine? I’m not aware of too many young hunters that could pass several bucks that would be fine “first deer” in lieu of just the right buck! I’m proud of him for being able to do that even though I’d have been proud with whatever buck he was able to take.

His hunting schedule did get a little cramped when basketball season started a couple weeks ago. Archery season turned into the general firearms season. And this morning proved to be the magical day for Brock as he and his dad entered the woods, joined by Brock’s uncle Bart. Amidst a cold, snow-blanketed morning Brock was able to line his sight on this deer not once, but twice before taking him down with a well-placed shot from his dad’s Remington muzzleloader.

Another picture of the happy hunter!


As Brock tells the story, he watched the deer come out into the field he was hunting near. With his dad watching nearby, Brock was able to get one shot off at the deer before he reentered the woods. A reload and a relocation later, Jeff and Bart were able to drive the deer out of a hardwoods and right in Brock’s direction again. He provided a great shot for him and Brock made it count.

We have a standing agreement to text each other with any “good news” from the deer woods, so you can imagine my elation when the text came in under the heading “shot just a couple minutes ago.” That’s also when I realized that texting is great, but I couldn’t wait to hear Brock tell (and hopefully relive) the story of how it all went down. He did a fine job of doing that as well.

Congratulations, Brock!


The Triple-Locked Bucks in Ohio

Nature sure has its way of doing some remarkable things. Sometimes they’re nothing more than amazing reminders that nature is powerful and cruel.

Photos borrowed from Google Images

As was the case last month when someone near Athens, Ohio (Meigs County) stumbled upon three bucks locked together in a water-filled creek. There are a handful of locked-buck cases that make their rounds on the Internet each year, however this was my first time ever hearing of three.

A quick search on the ol’ world wide web shows that it has happened in the past (one other example was cited in Texas). However, you can go to bed tonight feeling plenty good that your chances of hitting all six numbers on your lucky lotto ticket tomorrow are far greater than finding three mature whitetail bucks with antlers locked together.

There isn’t a whole lot of information out there about how these were actually found, but I can’t imagine what the apparent fella that found them must have thought when he first saw them.

There are unconfirmed, albeit published, reports out there that the bucks are somewhere in the 130, 140 and 170, respectively. That’s a lot of antler to get caught up.

Not sure if you’re like me, but I wonder which was the third buck that “engaged” in this battle and if the first two were already locked beforehand, or his tragic mistake led to the ill-fate of the others.

Amazing. Cruel. Sad.


The Hit-List Buck Falls

By Greg Johnston
AHT Guest Contributor

Grandpa always said he’d rather be lucky than good, but on opening day of the New York firearms deer season, I was a little of both.

Rewind one week to Nov. 13 when my hunting pal, John Koska, and I were hunting my family’s property in Livingston County.

The author with his Great 8 2010 NY buck


It wasn’t long into the hunt and I felt the vibration from my phone in my safety vest. The message was clear and to the point: “Shooter chasing a doe.”

After a short while John gave me a call and said he watched the buck breed the hot doe and then work past the treestand with the doe at about 25 yards. John said the doe trotted through the shooting lane and that the buck had followed. Not feeling comfortable trying to squeeze a Carbon Express arrow through the young saplings, he elected to pass the questionable shot. You have to respect that.

My question to him was “where did the buck go?” He answered “west,” and that gave me an idea. I had a treestand at the bottom of the hill where the buck seemed to be working towards and with the doe in heat I was confident he wouldn’t go far.

It took multiple encounters for this mature buck to fall

So, I packed my gear, climbed down from my stand and hiked to the truck. From there I drove around the block where I planned on entering the same block of timber, but from the west side. It’s probably about 9:30 a.m. or so at this point.

I eased up the hill and reached the stand. Once settled, I could see a flurry of activity up the hill and it wasn’t long before several does worked by. I then caught a flash of something running and knew that mature buck was exactly where I anticipated he’d be. This meant two things: First, I’d positioned myself so the shooter was now in between John and me; and Second, I was now in a position to try and kill him.

With the help of my 10x42s I could see the brute laying into a tree about 90 yards away. I watched for a few minutes and examined him. “Man, he’s got cool-looking bladed main beams,” I thought.

What now?

I decided to grunt – all while watching him through my binos. He didn’t react, so I became more aggressive with a snort wheeze. At this point I realized it wasn’t meant to be. There is no replacement for love and this bad boy was in it.

At 12:30 p.m. I called it quits, as my son’s birthday party was the next day and I had to tend to some household chores.

With that, I hung up the Bowtech for another year and headed to work for the week, waiting for the following Saturday – the opening of firearms season – to roll around.

John and I talked and decided that the “Great 8” had leapfrogged his way to the top of the hit list.

On opening morning, I was carrying my Remington 1100 Special 20 gauge and entered the woods just hoping that I’d have a chance at the buck – or at least a mature buck. The morning hours came and went with many shots fired, but none from inside the perimeters of our property.

I backed out for lunch and John, my Dad and I discussed the afternoon hunt. After a sandwich, we were back at it. I reached the stand around 2 p.m. and settled in. Shortly after, a doe and yearling worked by. From there it gets a little blurry, because I dozed off in the stand. What? You’ve never done that? Whatever…!

Okay, after my cat nap I awoke to a much calmer woods. The wind, which had been stiff out of the west, had faded and the conditions had improved.

I sat and texted back and forth with John as he was hunting a stand in the middle of our property. It wasn’t long after that I caught movement to my right. Guess who? At 85 yards I struggled to find a clear lane to squeeze a Berennke through. That is until he stopped to work a scrape. I steadied my recticle on him and fired.

Bang.

The deer whirled, ran 10 feet and stopped. Bang. I fired again. This time, he went on a dead run through the woods, but angling towards me and closing the distance. I knew the second shot had hit him, but I wasn’t sure where.

I begged him to stop. And at 60 yards my recent string of bad luck ended as he applied the brakes. Bang. I shot a third time and with that he disappeared over the nearby gully.

So, you’d rather be lucky than good? Grandpa was right! Me too. That third shot had found its mark and entered his front shoulder.

I waited awhile and eased my way along the edge of the gully. What I saw at the bottom of the gully was the end of a lengthy, season-long quest. The “Great 8” was down! I stood at the top of the bank for 10 minutes or so collecting my thoughts before descending down to put my hands on him.

I couldn’t believe it had happened. I called John and told him the news. He was pumped and made his way over for the celebration.

Now my problem was talking my wife into another taxidermy bill. It’s like Dierks Bentley sings: Man what was I thinking?


Picture-Perfect Dream Buck

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, we were looking at two pictures. The 2,000-word part was easy. My struggle came with figuring out how many inches were in the photos.

Tyler Sellens had just returned Friday from checking his trail cams. And he wanted to know what I thought this one particular buck would score.

I looked quickly – too quickly – and threw a number out that Tyler and my hunting buddy, The Biscuit, clearly weren’t impressed with. The odd looks told me I’d have no problem proving I was running on two hours sleep the last two days.

At closer glance, my high 140s mark had absolutely no merit. This stud had huge main beams, he had long tines and his mass was of the deer that hunters dream about. I quickly retracted.

Tyler, who along with Josh Turner makes up Riverview Outfitters in Hancock County, Ill., had two pictures of this buck. The first picture was Thursday morning, the second from Friday morning – but both during daylight. But he also had a challenge.

Tyler explained that he and Josh had only one tree to hang a stand in this spot, and his gut told him this deer was working a high trail during his daily ritual of checking for does. If that remained true, he knew the shot on this deer might be a long one with archery equipment.

The Biscuit, and I were only an hour removed from target shooting our bows, doing so at nearly every yardage marker possible – including 50 yards. We both shot well and that had our confidence levels soaring. We both implied that we might be up for the challenge.

The stand that they put in this area was, unfortunately for the Biscuit, locked onto a small hickory tree. The Biscuit isn’t … well … small. I am.

With the wind correct, I was able to navigate to and climb that stand our first morning of hunting Illinois. I saw and videoed four small bucks over the first couple hours out of that tree. And as the winds were gusting at speeds well into the 40s, I figured the big bucks were probably off their feet and staying as much out of the wind as possible. I had just talked myself into not expecting much movement until the magical time before sunset. The wind remained favorable for this stand, blowing out of the southwest.

And that’s when it happened. Nine hours after I arrived at my stand, the biggest deer I’ve ever seen on hoof came walking out of a brushy pile of woods and started on a walk in my direction. As Tyler had predicted, he was on the high trail. I knew right away that everything would have to go perfect in order to get a chance at this deer. I remained very calm – and looking back I’m not sure how.

As every hunter who has a large whitetail walking his direction would do, I grabbed my video camera! I’m not sure why that came first, but thankfully I also grabbed my bow and fumbled both in my hands as I sized the situation.

The buck walked through a little depression and stopped behind a series of saplings at 60 yards. He started rubbing his antlers on a small tree. I kept the video rolling and somehow managed to reach for my range finder. I’d already ranged this area several times in the morning but decided confirming the distance right now would be best. If he came out of those trees and remained broadside, he would be at 50 yards. If he came down the hill just a little bit, he would be in an opening at 44 yards. I dialed my sight to 45 yards and waited.

Somewhere in there I remember making up my mind that I was only going to shoot if everything went perfectly. I recall distinctly thinking that I was going to make this particular deer my week’s mission if the shot didn’t present itself. This was the first day of the hunt and I would have several days to play chess with him.

After a couple minutes of rubbing, the deer started moving again. That’s when I threw the video camera into my backpack. For some reason, I never even bothered to turn the record button off. Thus, the remaining pieces of the hunt were played out via sound on my video camera.

The buck broke out of the saplings and was walking slow. He walked a couple yards and turned toward my stand a bit. He was going to be on the 44-yard side of the opening.

I drew. At full draw I remember thinking that I would only take this shot if everything were still perfect.

I grunted. He stopped.

He was broadside at 44 yards. My HHA dial sight was dialed appropriately. I was looking through my peep sight and everything was perfectly aligned with his vitals. I squeezed the release and remained focused intently on where I wanted the arrow to hit. I did not see my arrow in flight, but saw and heard it hit the buck right where I was looking.

The buck turned up the hill and I could see the lion’s share of my arrow (all but the fletchings) sticking out of the opposite side of the deer … right where it would indicate a lung shot. I also saw blood – a lot of it – coming out of his side.

I was confident in the shot (as was later displayed when I replayed the video sound). I watched the buck run up the hill and out of sight. The shaking started.

I grabbed my video camera and realized that it was still on record. After taking a few moments to record my thoughts, which were all rooted in the sheer enjoyment of just shooting the biggest deer of my life, I called Tyler.

I climbed out of my stand and went to another hill and waited nearly two full hours for Tyler to meet me to begin tracking. As anyone who has ever shot a whitetail with a bow can attest, those hours are some of the most gut wrenching you can experience. You go through everything in your mind 1,000 times and try to recall any clues that will help in the recovery.

I started to question what I had seen. Was I sure the shot was where I thought? Was that blood I saw? Was he even as big as I think he was? Was it the same deer in the trail cam?

For the first time since the shot, I replayed the video. I listened to my entire first reaction and realized that there was no way I was seeing things. Replaying the real-time reaction helped build my confidence back up.

Tyler arrived and I played the video sound for him too. We started back into the woods to track.

We found blood early. The trail was easy to follow. After 70 or so yards, my arrow laid in his tracks. It was covered in blood. As often happens, the trail got wider with blood after that. We walked only another 15 yards and Tyler turned around smiling.

I’ve experienced ground shrinkage in the past. This is my first ground growage! He had points coming out of his main beams, his tines were longer than I remembered and he carried the widest rack I’d ever shot. He was truly a remarkable deer.

Tyler and Josh both were as excited as I was to have the bruiser on the ground. They’ve worked their tails off for several months to provide a hunter with an opportunity like this. And it so happened that in this case, I was the hunter. For that, I’m extremely grateful.

The buck ended up with 15 scoreable points – all intact.
And that picture ended up being worth a lot of inches – 185 4/8” in fact!

Cat Tales: I’m truly blessed. I’ve been able to shoot several nice bucks in my hunting career. Yet, I recognize that this deer is a “once-in-a-lifetime” kind of deer. And for that, I need to thank a few people for helping me fulfill a life dream. Thank you to Nick Pinizzotto, my fellow outdoor blogging friend who had never met me yet thought enough to ask me almost a year ago to join him in Illinois for a hunt with Riverview Outfitters.

I also need to thank “my girls.” My wife has dealt with my hunting obsession for over a decade and has been nothing but supportive – even though it often means a couple weeks of running our house solo each fall. My daughter Sara is living her third hunting season and gets almost as excited about deer as I do. And she is the best arrow holder this side of the Mississippi!

Finally, thank you dad for introducing me to hunting. I’m as passionate about this sport today as I was as a teenager running around our woods in Western New York. I wish a lot more kids around this world could see what I’ve been fortunate to see.


Learn more about Riverview Outfitters at www.RiverviewOutfitters.com