Hunting

204″ Giant Kentucky Opening Day Buck

AJ Gall

“I was sitting in my stand by 4:15 AM opening morning.  I got in extra early just in case I were to bugger up the alfalfa field, that way it would have some time to calm down before sunrise.   I was sitting there and the sun was just coming up to the point where you could start to see across the fields.  I had been texting and snapchatting my brother when I looked across the alfalfa field and saw nothing but racks coming up the riverbed.  I glassed them as they came into the alfalfa field and there was a 130”, a 150”, and then the big boy!  

It took them 45 minutes or so to cross the alfalfa field as they were grazing their way back to bed.  Eventually, the two “smaller” bucks – mind you a 130” and a 150” – walked right on by, nearly under the stand and I knew the giant would follow the script as long as I didn’t mess anything up. I ranged him at 66, 57, 43, and when he broke 37 yards I let him have it.”

-Denny Conley Jr.

2016 Giant Kentucky Velvet Buck | Rowan County, KYDenny admires his giant Kentucky buck.

Let’s rewind the clock to when the hunt for this behemoth buck really began for Kentucky native, Denny Conley Jr.  It began last February when Denny, a deputy jailer for Rowan County Detention Center, was looking for a place to hunt that was closer to work.  Working long shifts would limit hunting opportunities on his family farm due to the distance, so Denny began his search for a new property using Google Earth.

Soon Denny had targeted what he thought was a decent looking property and it was time to go shake hands with the owner.  After meeting and talking with the landowner, Denny had permission to shed hunt and see just what the property had to offer.  On March 1st, Denny, along with his twin brother Nathan, and good buddy Kyle, set out to look for some bone.  After three or four miles of searching, Denny spotted a shed laying in an overgrown field that would catch any hunters attention. The shed scored a whopping 88 inches and Denny knew he needed to be hunting this farm come September.

After showing the shed to the landowner, all he said was – glad it didn’t end up in my tractor tire.  Denny signed the hunting lease, and preparations for next fall began immediately.  Mineral sites were established and the wait for velvet season was in session.  Not knowing if the buck was just travelling through or a homebody, a plethora of trail cameras were deployed in June.  After anxiously waiting for the first card check, Denny’s decision to lease was looking more and more promising as the giant buck showed up in multiple trail camera photos.  The rest of the summer was spent keeping mineral and bait sites fresh.  Rather than distributing multiple bait sites and cameras throughout the property, Denny elected to run only one.  This would give the buck no other options and leave much of the property undisturbed.

2016 Giant Kentucky Velvet Buck | Rowan County, KYA July trail cam pic shows the massive potential of the giant buck.

Contrary to most mature buck behavior, the buck was becoming increasingly daylight active as summer waned on.  Denny couldn’t believe it, this buck was almost exclusively daylight active and becoming very patternable.   Denny’s final card check was the two days before the season opener and the pictures were promising.  The giant buck had been on camera between 6:30 AM and 8:30 AM each of the previous three mornings. If this were to hold up for two more days, Denny knew he’d have a good chance of at least seeing the giant buck.

2016 Giant Kentucky Velvet Buck | Rowan County, KYDaylight trail camera pics were common for this world class whitetail.

Several weeks back Denny had hung a stand near a creek crossing pinch point.  He was confident the buck was using the pinch as it worked toward its bed on the way back from feeding in the bean and alfalfa fields.  The creek and a ravine lent itself to the perfect entrance and exit route, making the stand nearly foolproof for a morning sit.  With the stand just a mere 5 yards from the bank, Denny could slip up the ravine, hop over the bank and be up in the tree without ever alerting deer in the nearby fields.

Finally, the Kentucky bow opener had arrived and as you read earlier, the plan played out perfect for Denny and he was able to put a double-lung shot on the buck of a lifetime an hour into the season.  The giant rough green scored at a whopping 204 inches and was the first velvet buck he had ever harvested.

2016 Giant Kentucky Velvet Buck | Rowan County, KYThis trail cam photo shows just how enormous this bucks frame was.

Denny and his twin brother Nathan have evolved into some mighty fine whitetail hunters since their childhood days.  They certainly know what to look for when it comes to finding and hunting a big buck property and they go the extra mile to achieve success.  If you don’t believe me, just take a look at their wall where you’ll see quite an antler display for two 27-year-olds.  Although they prefer to chase trophies these days, they grew up loving the hunting lifestyle because of the friendships and memories made along the way.  After all, “What’s the fun in shooting a giant buck if you’ve got no one there to Celebrate The Hunt with?” Denny asked.

Well said, Denny, well said.


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About The Author
From Woods to Table

AJ Gall

AJ Gall is Legendary Whitetails Community Page Manager.  His prior hunting and wildlife experiences began long ago and make him the perfect in-house deer hunting guru.  As a habitat consultant under Dr. Grant Woods, AJ has worked on properties in 13 different states, amassing over 25,000 acres of quality deer management. He now uses that knowledge to help clients find their dream hunting properties as a licensed real estate agent in Wisconsin.  

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