Opening the Season with a Kentucky Velvet Buck

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Kentucky's archery season opened last Saturday and was accompanied by a three-day forecast of strong storms, buckets of rain, and heavy winds, courtesy of Hurricane Isaac. We got some rain, and a stiff breeze did blow all weekend, but in my area, those heavy storms never really materialized. The breeze and rain was actually a welcomed break to the 90-degree heat and made for comfortable evenings on stand.

Judging by the photos and chatter online, quite a few Kentucky hunters had a successful opening weekend. My wife, Michelle, was among them. We were hunting a bean field late Monday evening some 250 yards apart. At around 7 p.m., I watched this nice 8-pointer step into the field and feed his way to within 10 yards of Michelle's stand. She made a great shot, and we found the buck piled up less than 100 yards away. (See the video of Michelle with her buck here.)

Kentucky offers one of the best chances in the nation at a nice buck in velvet. Although I've never killed one myself, this is Michelle's second one in as many seasons (I reported on her first one in a Rut Report entry last year).

With the exception of the crop conditions, we're in a standard early September routine around here. As mentioned in last week's post, corn crops have been all but a total failure due to the drought, and many bean fields aren't far behind them. The field we were hunting has nothing more than short, stunted plants. They're still green and attractive to the deer, but won't yield much for the farmer. Quite a few half-hearted scrape attempts line the edge of this field, and bucks are shedding velvet by the day. Within another week, I'd say most of the deer in the Mid-South will be sporting polished antler. After that, the first rubs of the season could appear at any time.

It's the region that made Odocoileus virginianus famous: Classic woodland habitat with a perfect mix of ag fields and bottomland. 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.