Photos: Bowhunter Tags a Monster Buck in Kentucky

James McPherson had known Luke Carswell for years. Several years ago, McPhereson, a North Carolina resident, hunted with an outfitter in Kentucky and Carswell was his guide. The two hit it off and, when Carswell called to say that he was starting an outfitting business of his own, McPherson knew who he was going to hunt with on his next trip to Kentucky. McPherson and Carswell stayed in touch, and Carswell would occasionally email trail-camera photos of big bucks. The stakes got even higher when Carswell called with the news that he had located the huge buck he had been looking for since last season. Photo: Bill Konway
As summer turned into early fall, the old buck stuck to his pattern, following a narrow finger of timber from his bedding area to the bean field where he fed each evening. Weeks before season, Carswell slipped in and hung some stands in the finger in hopes the big buck would stick to the game plan. “We were very careful not to blow the buck out of the area,” Carswell said. “We only checked cameras during the midday heat, and we did everything possible to limit human scent in the area.” As the days before season ticked down, Carswell stayed completely out of the area and began to scout the buck through his spotting scope from a hill several hundred yards away. Carswell added: “There were usually several good bucks and a ton of does hitting the beans, but the big one would always come in by himself, and always late in the evening.” Photo: Bill Konway
McPherson and his father arrived at camp the day before the season opener. They spent the evening with Carswell, riding around the area and looking at the fields. After meeting the other two clients in camp (Carswell is limiting each camp to four hunters at a time to limit pressure in the area), the hunters settled in for the evening. The decision had been made to forego morning hunts in order to not blow the deer from the bean fields as they fed in the pre-dawn hours. Saturday morning was spent hanging around camp, shooting bows, eating, and preparing for the evening hunt. McPherson and Carswell headed to the stand in the early afternoon of opening day. As the evening progressed, both hunters were excited to see a steady parade of does and young bucks pass by their stand. Just before dusk, the hunters heard a noise they couldn’t quite pinpoint. “At first, I thought it might have been a buck grunting,” Carswell said. Soon, a pair of young raccoons wrestled their way down the trail below the hunter’s stand. The noise and sight of the raccoon scuffle alerted a few of the nearby mature does. The deer began to blow and stomp, eventually leaving the area altogether. Even though it wasn’t quite dark, McPherson and Carswell took advantage of the lack of deer and quietly exited the stand. Photo: Bill Konway
After looking at the wind direction forecast on Sunday morning, the hunters made the decision to return to the same stand they had hunted the day before. They hadn’t been in the stand long when Carswell spotted a mature eight-point buck easing down the trail toward the bean field. Even though it wasn’t the buck they were after, seeing a 5 ½-half-year-old deer on his feet that early in the day buoyed their confidence that this might be the night. As they had the evening before, the does streamed past the hunters and into the beans behind them. As the does milled about in the field, Carswell noticed a few of them had made their way far enough out to begin to catch the hunter’s scent. Luckily, just before they got downwind of the hunters, the does began to feed in the other direction. Photo: Bill Konway
Turning from nervously watching the does in the field behind him, Carswell, who was higher in the tree than McPherson, noticed another deer working its way down the hill. After a few minutes, Carswell became convinced that it was a large buck. “I whispered to James that there was a mature buck heading our way, and to get his bow up and ready,” Carswell said. Even though the deer was close enough for McPherson to hear it walking through the woods, he had yet to lay eyes on the buck. “As I sat and listened to the deer move toward us, I could feel Carswell getting more excited,” McPherson said. “It seemed like forever before I caught sight of the deer, but the video showed that it was just a few minutes. By the time we realized that it was our buck, the one I came to hunt, the entire tree was shaking.” Photo: Bill Konway
After scent-checking the area several times, the buck finally entered the shooting lane. Even though the deer was in the open and well within range, the buck stood quartering to McPherson at enough of an angle to prevent a good shot. Carswell quietly whispered to McPherson to wait the buck out, to only take a good shot. “After what seemed like an eternity, the buck finally turned broadside,” McPherson said. “When he put his head down, I drew my bow and settled the pin on his shoulder. As the arrow made contact with the deer, both hunters knew from the sound that the hit was a solid one. The buck mule-kicked and leapt into the deep cover, out of sight. After several seconds, both hunters heard the sound of a deer crashing to the ground. “We both looked at each other and grinned,” McPherson said. “I asked Luke if that sounded like a crash to him, and he said it did. I quickly called my wife, who didn’t believe me at first, then my dad. After 15 minutes, we debated getting down and looking for the arrow verses backing out and coming in later to trail the deer. Luke thought we should probably back out, but agreed to at least look for the arrow. As soon as we saw it, we knew it was a good shot. The blood trail started immediately, and we agreed to follow the trail for a few yards to see how it looked.” Photo: Bill Konway
As the hunters continued down the trail, the blood grew heavier. Twenty yards turned into 30, then 40. Just as McPherson started to suggest they back out and give the buck more time, Carswell spotted the deer at the edge of his flashlight beam. <“It was perfect,” McPherson said. “We danced around, we fist-bumped, we high-fived, we even did the man hug. I ain’t going to lie, it got a little awkward. I have dreamed about killing a deer like this all of my life, even in my wildest dreams, the bucks were never this pretty.” Photo: Bill Konway
McPherson and Carswell were greeted at the farm entrance by both of their fathers. “It was surreal,” McPherson said. “Both of our dads were there to see our dreams come true—mine of killing a magnificent 194-inch buck of a lifetime, and Luke’s of having a successful outfitting business. We all stood there at the gate and offered up a prayer of thanks, just happy that we could experience it together.” Photo: Bill Konway

In September 2015, James McPherson shot the buck of a lifetime in Kentucky. Click through the photo gallery to read the story. Here are the details from the hunt:

Hunter: James McPherson
Guide: Luke Carswell, 7 Bar Outfitters
Buck Score: 194 gross, green
Location: Morehead, Kent.
Bow: Elite Energy 32
Broadhead: Rage Extreme
Camo: Realtree Xtra