Story By: Alex Fruit | KY Deer Hunter
For my entire life, I’ve wanted to pursue a career in the outdoor industry, but Henderson County isn’t a very well-known town, and opportunities are limited. I settled for a career with Brenntag Mid-South where I work as a Custom Chemical Blender. My dad introduced me to hunting at the age of 7 and from then on out I was hooked on anything to do with the outdoors.
I’ve killed a handful of deer in the 140-160″ range, but I’ve only had one other opportunity at a deer of this caliber. My family owns roughly 300 acres spread throughout the Henderson area, which is great, but not enough to kill a mature buck every year. So, I went knocking door to door trying to gain permission to hunt on pieces of property that seemed to always hold deer and turkey, and that’s where it all began. I had gained access from a landowner to a 50-acre thicket embedded in the middle of crop fields.
The first time I set foot onto the property was during the 2015 spring turkey season. Long story short, I was stalking a gobbling tom when I stumbled upon this buck bedded down. When I saw this deer, I knew it had the characteristics to be something special. I started running trail cams immediately, but it seemed like he really wasn’t interested in the corn pile and would never come to the camera. I knew I had to try something different, so I decided to try a new mineral that’s local to my hometown, and it only took a week for pictures to start rolling in.
Everything seemed to be going as planned heading into fall, but then the buck disappeared. I had a feeling it would get shot during gun season, so I began to lose hope. Then, out of nowhere, a buddy down the road began to get pictures of the buck during the late-season. I was relieved to know the buck was alive and that I would have a pretty good chance to hunt him again the next fall.
During the 2016 season, I had four trail cameras running and Summit stands were hung for every wind direction. Throughout the 2016 season, I had three encounters with the giant, but the shot just wasn’t what I wanted. Another year down and I was left hoping this buck didn’t get killed during gun season.
When the 2017 season began, I knew exactly where my cameras needed to be in order to pattern this buck. The Deer 30 Mineral and corn mixture lured him in front of the camera the very first day, and I was amazed at how much he had grown. I was guessing this deer to gross around 165-170″. Turns out, I was a little off because the photos just didn’t show the mass that was actually there. I refreshed the bait every two weeks, only on the days the wind was correct. When I had this deer patterned, I set my stand directly between his bedding area and the food source I was providing him. Kentucky bow season was about to begin and it was game on!
The day before the season opener, my wife begged me to hunt the morning, but I knew that these deer typically fed early before daylight and I didn’t want to chance it. I opted for an evening sit and entered the stand at 3:40 pm. On my way in, I decided to pull the SD card from the trail camera and check it while I was in the stand. I was absolutely crushed when I looked and at 8:19am I had 130 pictures of this buck. The only thought going through my head was that my wife was right; I screwed up.
I sat there beating myself up for a solid hour before I thought, “If he ate this morning, then he can’t resist this mineral/corn. He will be back.” At 5:50 pm I was glassing over the thick woods and spotted a rack coming my way. I immediately grabbed my bow and got into position. I couldn’t believe my eyes; the buck I had been watching was headed directly to me! But there was a problem… the wind was swirling and I knew I had to make something happen before he crossed my path. He was followed by a younger 8-pointer and they were both checking the wind every 10 yards or so. I found a hole in the woods in the direction he was headed and focused on that one spot until I could see his rack completely.
I slowly drew my Hoyt Carbon Spyder back, but there was another problem. My elbow was hitting my Hunter Safety System tie off rope. At this point, I was so nervous, but somehow, I maneuvered myself into a comfortable position to take aim. I softly grunted with my mouth to get him to stop, and at 15 yards, I sent an arrow plunging into his lungs.
I was so excited that I had to sit down because I was getting dizzy (thankful for the Hunter Safety System). I immediately called my wife, my dad, and my brother-in-law to let them know the news. They had studied and watched this deer with me so much that it was almost like they were hunting it too. I waited an hour before I got down, then went straight to my arrow. It was covered in blood from tip to tip.
The blood trail this deer left behind was just like the Rage commercials show. The deer made it 80-100 yards before he took his last breath. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I grabbed ahold of this extremely massive velvet main frame 8-pointer. The deer unofficially scored 190 2/8. I had just killed the deer of my dreams.
The rack and hide are now at Acorn Ridge Taxidermy in Madisonville, KY where it will be officially scored and mounted. As for the meat, my family and I get to enjoy that immediately. Our favorite venison meal is grilled bacon wrapped deer tenderloin stuffed with cream cheese and jalapeño, with a BBQ sauce basted over the top. And you can bet we’ll be enjoying that very soon!