Kentucky Bowhunter Big Antler Buck Tags
Males can be difficult to track on trail cameras from year to year. Sometimes they grow so much between summers that they are barely recognizable. But Jonathon Stuart, 31, of Russellville, Kentucky, couldn’t mistake the narrow and high gap on his goal if he tried. This ultimately contributed to him finally tagging the Class 160 whitetail deer on September 7 after watching it grow for over a year.
“It’s grown about 35 inches from last year to this year,” Stuart said. Outdoor living. “I started taking pictures of him at the beginning of May this year. Often it’s all guessing games until June, but his frame was so distinctive and he had already grown so much, you don’t wouldn’t even need to know this deer to know the photos from last year and this year it was the same deer Many other deer had just started growing main beams and he already had 5 teeth or 6 inches.
Stuart has hunted on the family property in Kentucky for six straight years and knows how to accurately gauge deer growth.
“I’m looking at photos from years past and their growth rate and where they are at certain times in the summer, and I just knew this deer was going to wipe out whatever it was last year,” Stuart says.
Even with dozens of trail camera photos and over a year of models to work from, the buck gave Stuart a hard time ahead of archery season. His consistency dropped and he became very unpredictable.
“He was there for a week and then he disappeared for a week or two. And it was just random all summer,” recalls Stuart. “I didn’t get any pictures of the deer from the last day of June until August. We had a long, hot, dry spell and I was worried EHD was setting in. But he came back on the first of August and had come to his senses, here a few days, gone a few days, here a week, spent a week.
Stuart reached the end of his patience with the male and insisted on finding where he disappeared several times, hoping to map the male’s range for a successful hunt. His exploration worked.
“About two weeks before the season opener in Kentucky, I decided to venture up to the upper end of this farm and set up a camera in a place I wouldn’t normally go to,” Stuart explains. “Within a day or so I had a picture of him, and I was getting pictures of him almost every day.”
But when opening day arrived, torrential rains kept most hunters at home. Stuart recalls the area receiving 6 inches of rain in just three hours. He tried to go out to hunt, but his places were all flooded. Finally, on Wednesday, September 7, the weather cleared up and Stuart was in his tree at 2:00 p.m. As he drew his bow, he noticed two young males walking nearby. Then, around 5:30 p.m., Stuart got up to stretch his legs.
“As I turned to sit down, I looked towards where the two bucks had come from earlier in the day, and saw deer coming down a hill along the edge of the lake. a cornfield. It was the group of seven single bucks that had been there all summer, including my target deer.
Stuart watched them feed on corn before heading into the woods. The wind had been bad all day and the bucks were super cautious, but eventually the target buck and a young cob headed to Stuart’s treestand to drink some water.
“Of course the woodpecker came straight into the water, but the bigger deer played slowly, checking everything. Once he finally got through my 30 yard window, I was able to shoot him and the rest was history.
It was Stuart’s second biggest dollar, scoring 163.5 inches.
“I killed one in full velvet in 2018 that was 167 3/8 inches,” Stuart says. “The deer I killed this year ran with the deer I killed last year, which scored 163 3/8 inches. So this year’s deer was only an eighth of an inch bigger.