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It seems the quality of our bucks gets better every year. Check out these fine trophies from last season and see if you don’t agree.

(September 2010) As written by Kenn Young for Arkansas Sportsman

Today there are more big deer being killed in the Natural State than at any time in our storied hunting past. These are not necessarily Booners, even though quite a few are, but they are the kind of bucks that cause people to gather around to look in the back of a pickup truck. What follows will highlight some of those bucks killed during the last hunting season, and tell the stories behind their taking.

SEAN LONGNECKER Our Largest Typical, 2009-10

As any serious deer hunter knows, “luck” often has a lot to do with success.

Sean Longnecker is a 39-year-old farm manager down in Stuttgart, which is located in Arkansas County, the state’s No. 1 county in terms of big-buck production.

Back before deer season opened, Sean and David Stark were driving around the farm that David oversees when they saw a huge rub. Sean, who freely admits that he spends more time duck hunting than chasing whitetails, joked with David that he was going to “kill that buck.” It was a statement made in jest, but he did buy a pop-up blind and set it up in the same area. But on opening day work interfered, and then after lunchtime Sean had to run some papers up to his wife Christy in Little Rock. It was late when he got back, but he decided to sit in the stand for a while anyway.

“It was getting late and I was just about to leave when I saw a doe come out into a field about 200 yards away.” Sean recalls. “There was a buck behind her, a big buck, and I held my breath as the two of them started working in my direction.”

The two were about 75 yards away when the buck got nervous. Knowing the time had arrived, Sean raised his Ruger .308 and fired. “I saw him go down,” Sean said, “but there was a 25-foot-wide ditch filled with water between me and him. I had to walk about a quarter-mile to get a boat, then row across.

But when I got to him I knew he was the big one!

“It was pretty dark by then, and darker by the time I got him to the truck. So I just took him directly to the packinghouse in DeWitt. Didn’t weigh him, didn’t age him, didn’t even take any pictures. Sure wish I had now!”

In January Sean carried the rack to the Big Buck Classic in Little Rock, where it was scored at 181 6/8 net as a typical. That score was enough to win Sean the ATV given for the biggest buck entered! The impressive total also means that the Arkansas County buck will rank No. 11 in the state’s all-time rankings!

MIKE DOBSON Our Largest Non-Typical, 2009-10 Photo courtesy of Mike Dobson Mike Dobson makes his home in River Bend, a suburb of Tichnor, located close by the famed White River National Wildlife Refuge. Now 54 years old, Mike owns his own construction company, DD&D Inc.

Mike recently bought 430 acres, where he and his son Jason do their deer hunting. The area is swampy during rainy weather, which certainly describes much of last season. It was on Dec. 26 that he waded out to a spot and put up his self-climber.

“We have game cameras set up throughout the property,” Mike told me, “and the week before we had gotten a single photo of a big buck with several drop tines.”

“I’ve pretty much bow-hunted entirely for the last 15 years, but that day I was carrying an old Remington 742 Woodmaster carbine that had belonged to my dad. It was topped with one of the old Weaver K scopes, and it had probably been on the gun for close to 50 years.” After he had been sitting for a while a doe and a yearling came out of the swamp. Then 15 minutes later Mike heard another animal walking through the water. “I knew instantly it was a buck. He would take a few steps and stop, then wait for three or four minutes before taking a few more.” Finally the deer stepped into an opening. Mike knew instantly that it was the same big non-typical he had seen in the photo; he raised his rifle and fired!

“Jason was hunting a quarter-mile away and he heard me shoot. He called me on my cell and asked me, ‘How big was he?’ I told him I could see 11 points (1 sticker) and he was a little disappointed.” Mike chuckled. “Then I told him that was all I could see because the other half of the buck’s rack was under water!”

The Arkansas County buck was aged at 5 1/2 years. He was relatively light, weighing around 175 pounds. Scored at the Classic, the buck’s rack netted 202 0/8 non-typical points on the Boone and Crockett scale. “It would have been great to see what he might have been in a year or two.” Mike said. “But we’re seeing young bucks on the cameras that have drop tines coming off the bottom of the main beam, so he left behind some good genes!”

GARY DOZIER Arkansas’ Largest Typical Bow Buck of 2009-10 Like most of those I talk to as I research this article, Gary Dozier of Augusta is a lifelong deer hunter, having started when he was 8. He’s taken a lot of deer over the years, and for the last 10 to 12 years those have been with a bow. Like much of the Arkansas Delta in the winter of 2009, his hunting area lies in a flood-prone region that was closed to deer hunting until around Thanksgiving.

“On Nov. 28 I was just out driving around, really just looking for a duck-hunting spot.” Gary chuckles. “But I had my bow with me, and at one point I came to a spot that for some reason just looked good to me. So I carried my stand in and put it up along a brushy hillside.” About 4 p.m. two does walked close by.

Gary was hunting meat, but could never get an open shot. A few minutes later he heard a squirrel bark behind him, and when he looked he saw a buck on the opposite side of a big brushpile — a good buck!

“He turned and came down the hillside, passing me about 18 yards away. But the sun was in my eyes and I couldn’t see through my peep, so I had to wait. Finally he stopped in a little opening and I was able to get my bow back and then release.” Gary shoots a Mathews Drenalin, a gift from his boss at Fairchild Homes, where he works. But Gary’s Maxima Hunter arrow struck just a little too far back, and all he could do was watch helplessly as the big buck walked off! “I got down and went to the spot where he had been, but I couldn’t find any blood. It was almost dark by then, so I decided to wait and come back the next morning.”

The next day Gary brought along his brother Tony and good friend Brian Harmon. The three never found any blood, but Tony finally located the buck lying dead in its bed some 125 yards away! Scored by B&C measurer Todd Sharp, the massive Woodruff County 5×6 rack nets 167 3/8 typical points. That total makes it the No. 8 Arkansas typical bowkill of all time, and the state’s largest of 2009-10!

DANNY PARCHMAN Muzzleloader Monster Danny Parchman is a 49-year-old rice and soybean farmer who makes his home in Des Arc. Normally he does most of his deer hunting in Prairie County, but as has already been noted here, all the wet weather last fall caused the area to be closed. So as a “consolation” Danny did his late-season muzzleloader hunting on 200 acres he owns down in Dallas County. The story of the taking of his buck is one that aptly proves baseball great Yogi Berra’s statement that,

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

On Dec. 31, the last day of the season, Danny and his two daughters, Kimberly and Ashley, actually were walking out of the woods after their afternoon hunt. It was about 5 p.m., coming on to dark, when the trio walked through an area of big hardwoods. Looking up ahead, they saw a buck’s head sticking up out of some thick brush. In short order Danny raised his Knight BK-92 and fired; the 200-pound buck went down!

While maybe lacking in drama, this story certainly has a happy ending! The 7×7 rack scores 182 7/8 net as a non-typical. That makes it the largest muzzleloader buck — typical or non-typical — taken in Arkansas last season, and the No. 4 Arkansas blackpowder non-typical of all time!

DARLENE ROGERS BUCK The name Darlene Rogers is a familiar one to those of us who attend the Big Buck Classic held in Little Rock each January. She was third among the women four years ago, second last year, and first this year with the buck we’ll learn about here! So Darlene … what’s next? “Oh I want to win the overall,” the 45-year-old grandmother says without the slightest hesitation!

And don’t bet against her. Aside from maybe Lois Padgett of Tichnor some years back, Darlene has put together about as consistent a string of big bucks as anyone here in the Natural State.

On Nov. 19 she was hunting from her favorite stand down in Prairie County. She keeps her grandbabies, and hadn’t been able to hunt until that afternoon. The ladder stand overlooks a wheat field alongside Wingmead Farm, possibly the best-known duck hunting location in the world. There was a swamp behind her, and patches of woods on both sides. “It was just at last light that I saw a doe hop the fence, and right behind her came this big buck. He was about 120 yards away, and I shot him in the neck. He went down on the spot!” A good shot from a 7mm Remington Magnum will do that!

The 6×6 rack scored 154 2/8 typical points, with the buck weighing “about” 220 pounds. It was the largest typical taken by a woman in this state last season, and also ranks No. 13 on the all-time women’s list. But why do I think Darlene just may someday shoot a buck big enough to win the overall title?

Certainly where she hunts plays a part. You can’t kill a big buck unless there is one there, and Prairie County is known for the size of it’s whitetails. But there’s more. “I hunt alone,” Darlene told me when we talked. “I don’t change stands. I’ve hunted the same stand for weeks at a time. I also don’t shoot little deer. If it’s not at least a good 8-point I wait.”

That’s why.

MICHAEL “ANDY” CHAPMAN Big Northwest Buck Twenty-nine-year-old Andy Chapman is a delivery driver for MANA, a medical supply firm in Fayetteville. On Nov. 19 he and his best friend, Roy Jackson, were doing some afternoon scouting on a 1,000-acre parcel of land in Newton County that belongs to Kim Jackson, Roy’s wife. “I had hunted the land before, but never killed a buck there.” Andy recalls. “We found this logging road that was literally covered with scrapes, so I put up my stand at a ‘T’ where I could look in several directions. We also jumped a pair of bucks from their beds as we looked. One was a big 8, the other even bigger.”

Today, Andy thinks that second buck is the one he took. Nov. 19 dawned clear and chilly, with a light frost on the ground. About 7:15 Andy heard deer moving behind him, and then a doe came trotting from the direction of a brushy bench. Right behind her was a small 8-point, then a larger 8-point, and then another, even larger 4×4!

Andy decided to shoot the largest buck, but the deer disappeared over a small rise before he could get a clear shot. “I rattled, something I’ve never had much success with,” he said, “and immediately I could hear a big body coming through the woods in my direction. The way it was crashing, it sounded like an elk!” The buck came out about 50 yards away. Andy grunted to stop it, and then raised his NIF single-shot .30/06 and fired. The monster went only about 40 yards before piling up!

The big 6×5, which Andy figures weighed in the 200-pound range, scores 170 1/8 net B&C typical points. It became Newton County’s second “book buck,” joining the 200 4/8 non-typical taken in 2004 by Kylan McCutcheon of Jasper.

For the last dozen years I’ve written this Big Buck Round-Up for Arkansas Sportsman magazine. It’s one of the most enjoyable articles I do because, year after year, I get to meet and talk with some of the finest people on the face of this earth. This year was certainly no exception.

Good hunting.

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