Brantley: A Kentucky Buck at Midday

Rut Reporter Will Brantley of Murray, Kentucky, knows the region well. He spends 40 to 50 days each season in the Mid-South whitetail woods. Brantley shot his first deer at age 10 with a sidelock muzzleloader. States covered: KY, TN, WV, VA, NC.

Nov. 6: This was by far the coldest morning we've had so far this season in the Mid-South, and where I was hunting in Kentucky, the deer reacted accordingly. I watched three bucks chasing does, one of which was a big 10-pointer. All of them were out of range. The action was pretty steady up until about 10:30 a.m.

After a quick break at noon to shed a few layers of clothes at camp and eat some lunch, I was headed back to the woods by 1:30. I packed a climbing stand with the idea of setting up in a creek-bottom funnel that sits between a thicket and a big green field. I'd seen deer working through the creek bottom from a distance while hunting another stand several times over the previous week. The wind was perfect for it. I sprayed several pumps of doe pee on the trail behind me as I walked along the edge of the field and down into the creek bottom. I found a nice, straight maple to climb and settled in 50 yards off the edge of the field.

I'd been in my stand about 45 minutes when I first saw this buck moving through the trees. He had his nose stuck in the scent path I'd made and was trotting fast right along the edge of the field. A glance through my binoculars confirmed a decent rack, and by the time I stood up and grabbed my bow, he was in my best shooting lane at 25 yards. A quick mouth grunt stopped him as I was drawing. I held the pin for just a second and touched the release. The arrow hit the buck toward the back of his lungs--just a couple inches behind the "boiler," but it was a clean pass-through. I waited two hours and recovered him 150 yards down the trail.

Honestly, the buck wasn't as big as I thought he was at the shot, but such things happen from time to time in the deer woods--especially during the rut. But no regrets from me. Watching a buck march along with his nose to the ground following a scent trail I've created myself and then killing him with a bow fires me up. It's especially cool when it happens in the middle of the day when you're least expecting it and weary from a bunch of long hours in the stand.

As for the big 10-pointer I saw that morning, my wife, Michelle, set up the next morning in the area where I'd seen him. She saw him too--he passed within 35 yards of her tree, but offered no shot. I'm sure Michelle will hunt that spot again this weekend--but she'll have a .30-06 in her hands this time around. Modern gun season in Kentucky opens Nov. 13.