(As written by Kenn Young for Arkansas Sportsman. Thank you to all the hunters that shared their stories and bucks with us at the Big Buck Classic!)
Last season there were five deer taken in the Natural State that scored high enough to make the prestigious Boone & Crockett Club’s all-time record book. But there were others taken that were large enough to make any hunter’s heart beat faster.
So take a deep breath, and get ready for some increases in blood pressure, because here comes Arkansas Sportsman’s annual look at the big bucks of Arkansas for 2010.
STACY FOWLER Danville, AR The big non-typical buck killed by Stacy Fowler of Danville is the largest deer taken in the Natural State last season. With a net non-typical score of 212 6/8 it is also our largest whitetail ever taken with a muzzleloader. There will be more about this deer in a coming issue.
.Patrick Nolan of Hot Springs took a chance on some hunting land near Malvern. Patrick’s gamble paid off with this great non-typical scoring 200 2/8 points. Photo courtesy of Patrick Nolan.
PATRICK NOLAN Hot Springs, AR Forty-two-year-old Patrick Nolan of Hot Springs is a salesman for Globus Medical. Last summer a good friend, Reji Short, told him about a deer lease near Malvern that had an opening.“With three kids, money is tight.” Patrick told me. “But I talked to my wife Randi and we prayed about it. Someday I’ll want my son, who is now 2, to be involved in the outdoors, and we decided that this lease is an investment in his future.”
During the early muzzleloader season, Reggie took Patrick to the lease and showed him several areas where hunting pressure was light. One of those was along a steep ridgeside some distance from the nearest road. “I hunted there during the blackpowder season and didn’t see a single deer.” Patrick recalled. His luck was about to change. Just after daylight on Sunday, Nov. 14, he watched as a spike buck and a 4-point worked their way up the side of the ridge. Then 10 minutes later a 6-point followed them, followed 20 minutes later by an 8-point!
“I thought about shooting the 8-point,” Patrick chuckles, “but I was way back in some rough territory and it would have been a long drag. The weather was perfect, clear and cool, and everything was just so relaxing and peaceful that I let him walk.”
Another 40 minutes went by when he heard another deer coming up from directly behind him. “Then I turned in my stand and saw steam coming from behind a tree 30-35 steps away. It was a deer’s breath! ”When the buck, it was a buck and a big one, stepped forward, Patrick centered the crosshairs on his Smith & Wesson .30/06 and squeezed the trigger! The buck went down on the spot, but the ridgeside was so steep that it slid some 40 feet downhill before stopping! “I slid him down to the bottom of the draw, about 175 yards or so, then started pulling him out. It was easier than going over the ridge, but I still had to drag him a few yards, then rest, then drag him some more." It was as he worked slowly along that draw, Patrick actually stepped on an antler lying in the leaves. He looked around, and a few yards away found another one! Sure enough, they were the sheds of the buck he had just killed! Scored at the Arkansas Big Buck Classic in Little Rock, the Hot Spring County 9×8 netted 200 2/8 non-typical points. Patrick also entered the sheds in the shed division, and the largest scored in the mid-80s! “I may not be the best deer hunter in the state,” Pat laughs, “but I am the luckiest!”
DARREN WALKER DeValls Bluff, AR
The Arkansas Delta is big-buck country. Need proof? Roughly 75 per cent of the Natural State bucks currently residing in the B&C all-time record book came from these fertile croplands lying east of Little Rock.
Like many Arkansans, Darren Walker of DeValls Bluff is a “lifer” when it comes to deer hunting. His father James started him hunting at an early age, and he actually took his first whitetail at the tender age of 6!
On a warm and windy Dec. 16, he climbed into a box stand overlooking a wide field. He had already seen several bucks in the same area during the season, but had passed on them because they had “busted up” racks.
“The wind was blowing hard out of the east that morning.” Darren remembered. “I sat in the box stand facing south, but after a while I turned to face the wind. It was a few minutes later that I caught a flicker of motion out of the corner of my eye, off to the north. As I kept watching, a buck came out to the edge of the field. If I hadn’t turned I would never have seen him at all.”
Darren hunts with a Remington .300 Ultra-Mag, but at his shot the buck just seemed to flinch! It trotted about 60 yards as the hunter jacked another shell into the chamber, but as Darren centered the crosshairs behind the shoulder for a second shot the buck sank to the ground! “I didn’t really think he was all that big at first.” Darren said. “But when I got back to the building I did a rough score and he grossed in the high 170s! Then I had a friend score him and he came up with a total in the low 180s!”
Darren knew then that he had a good deer, but he didn’t know how good until he took the rack to the Big Buck Classic in Little Rock. “I have to say, when they brought him out from the scoring area with a card that said ‘B&C Record Book Buck’ it was a really emotional experience for me. To take a buck that will go in the all-time record book is definitely the thrill of a lifetime!”
Little Rock’s Mike Nutter was running late the morning he dropped his great Pulaski County buck, a 171 4/8 B&C monster. Photo courtesy of Mike Nutter.
MIKE NUTTER Little Rock, AR Mike Nutter of Little Rock is a member of the River Bend Hunting Properties, located there in Pulaski County. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving he was running late and the sun was already up when he got out of his truck. “I was in such a hurry that I parked my truck right behind my stand,” Mike said. “I never do that because the deer will see it and spook.”
He was hunting his “new” stand, which he had put up after Elroy Brown found a pair of large sheds in the same area while rabbit hunting the previous winter. It overlooked a fair-sized “duck hole” that had tender grass growing around its edges. It was just before 8 o’clock when Mike saw a doe standing in the middle of the road he had just come in on. Sure enough, she was staring directly at his truck!
“I figured she was going to blow and ruin my hunt,” Mike recalled. “She did look at it for a long time, but finally she just walked down to the edge of the water and started feeding.” As he watched her, Mike naturally thought about getting down and moving the truck. But before he could make up his mind he heard a deer bolt off the levee. It was a big 10-point, almost certainly the owner of the sheds Brown had found! The doe had disappeared, but the buck went straight to the spot where she had been feeding and sniffed the ground. “He was about 125 yards away, his attention on the doe.” Mike said. The hunter got his Winchester Model 70 up and fired! The .30/06 bullet struck the animal and down it went!
Sometimes even when everything goes wrong it still ends right! In January Mike carried the “horns” to the Classic, where the rack was officially scored at 171 4/8 B&C points!
Matt Howard Jr. poses with the rack and cape from a huge typical whitetail he killed on the White River NWR last November. At 172 6/8 points, it was the highest scoring typical killed in Arkansas last year. Photo courtesy of Matt Howard Jr.
MATT HOWARD JR. Sidon, MS
Matt Howard Jr. started deer hunting with his dad when he could barely walk. In fact, his dad would carry him along as he still-hunted, teaching his son the basics of the sport he loved. Today Matt, now 34, farms rice, corn and soybeans on the Mississippi side of the “Big Muddy.”
On Nov. 16 he was hunting on the north unit of the famed White River National Wildlife Refuge, which stretches through four Arkansas Delta counties.
“I had never been on the place before.” Matt told me. “Fortunately I was hunting with my good friends James and Jamie Norwood, and both of them had hunted there lots of times.” On the morning of the 16th Jamie killed a nice 130-class buck, and James also took a good 8-point. So with their hunting over, that afternoon they took Matt to an old logging road leading to an oak flat and dropped him off.
“I carried my turkey seat in with me, and I just found a spot that looked good and sat down at the base of a tree.” Matt remembers. “It was pouring rain and the temperature was in the 40s, but the rut was in full swing and the deer were moving.”
It was about 3 o’clock when a buck came up from almost directly behind him. With the wind in his face, the buck should have winded the waiting hunter, but maybe its breeding urges had the deer distracted. Matt slowly raised his Sako M70 and then fired when the buck stopped about 70 yards away.
“When I shot he turned and ran straight toward me!” There was a hunter’s excitement in Matt’s voice as he remembered the day. “When he went down I shot again just to make sure!”
There was more excitement to come, but it was of a different nature.
“I left the buck there while I went back to camp to get some help.” Matt chuckles. “Then when we came back I couldn’t find him! I thought I knew right where he was, but he wasn’t there! I don’t mind telling you, I got some excited!” It took the trio 30 minutes or so to locate the buck, but he was worth the wait. In January the rack was officially scored at 172 6/8 B&C points, making the Monroe County 5×5 the state’s largest typical of 2010!
JOHN JAMISON Nashville, AR
John Jamison of Nashville is a farmer, and also a bowhunter of the serious variety. Last summer he found a big shed while he was doing some bush hogging on property located there in Howard County. He put out game cameras and soon had numerous photos of a big 10-point.“On October 10 I had a couple of hours to hunt before church,” John said. “It was a hot morning, and I actually had shorts on under my leafy suit.”As he sat in his stand he had coyotes howling almost under him. So he switched his “kill” arrow to a “scrub” arrow, hoping to lower the local predator population. “I had no sooner nocked the scrub when I looked up and saw the big 5×5 standing there less than 40 yards away!” John laughs. “There was no way I could change arrows without his seeing the movement, so I just turned my body away from him and gave a low grunt.”The buck slowly headed in John’s direction. When the buck reached a point 25 yards out, John drew his Mathews Outback, settled the sight pin, and then released! The scrub arrow flew true, and the buck went less than 40 yards before going down!The 5×5 rack, taken on 10/10/10, scored 164 0/8 net typical points! That impressive total made it the largest typical taken with archery tackle last season!
Luc Runyon’s 185 5/8 net 16-point non-typical was the top buck killed by a youth last season. Luc dropped the buck with a .243. Photo courtesy of Luc Runyon.
LUC RUNYON Tupelo, AR
At only 11 years old, Luc Runyon has packed a lot of deer hunting into his relatively short life. He started hunting when he was 5, and heading into the 2010-11 season had already taken more than 20 deer! On the afternoon of Nov. 6, the second day of the statewide youth hunt, he was hunting with Scott Barker on private property near his home in Tupelo. He had already been successful, having taken a good 8-point that morning! The two were hunting from a ground blind that overlooked a small food plot, the same stand from which he had killed a 4×4 earlier. It was the same general area where game cameras had caught several pictures of a large buck earlier in the fall. “About 5:30 we saw six does and a button buck feed into the plot,” Luc recalled. “We kept watching them and all of a sudden they ran off. That was when I saw a buck, a big one, standing at the edge of the opening 25 yards away!” Luc shoots a HOWA bolt-action rifle in .243 caliber; as the buck stood like a statute Luc raised the gun and fired! The shot was true, and the mortally wounded animal only went some 25 yards before going down! The outwardly typical-looking 9×7 rack was officially scored at the 2011 Big Buck Classic and hunting expo in Little Rock. It netted 185 5/8 non-typical points, making the Woodruff County buck the largest taken by a youth in Arkansas last season! It’s often said that kids are the future of hunting. As I discussed the taking of his buck with Luc it became apparent that he is both well mannered and respectful. So at least in his case the future seems to be in good hands!
TAMMIE CHENOWETH Mena, AR
Tammie Chenoweth, 41, and her husband Gary raise cattle on their ranch near the southwest Arkansas town of Mena. Butting up against the Oklahoma line, for many years the region was not regarded as being a big-buck producer. That is changing. There is a mile-long driveway leading to the Chenoweth home, and on Nov. 9 Gary and their daughter Hannah saw a large buck in the pasture beside the road. They realized that it had to be the same buck they had caught on a game camera in that area two years before, and from which they had found a shed the previous spring. So on the morning of Nov. 10 Tammie and Gary were sitting in a “hut” near where the buck had been seen the day before. “It was cold,” Tammie remembers, “really cold. Gary did some rattling just after daylight, and along about 8 o’clock four does came out into the opening we were watching. They were about 150 yards away, and as we watched this buck just followed them out!” Tammie shoots a Remington Model 700, and she got it up and fired! The .270 bullet hit the buck and he went down almost on the spot!“ Gary made me wait awhile before we went to get him. We could see his antlers sticking up, and he never moved. A little while later another buck, about a 130-class 10-point, came out and walked to where he was laying. He sniffed him but didn’t seem all that concerned, and finally just walked away. ”The Polk County buck weighed 200 pounds, large for the area. In January Tammie took the 5×5 rack to the Big Buck Classic in Little Rock, where it netted 164 6/8 B&C points. That total made it the largest typical taken in Arkansas by a woman in 2010!