Predators & Small Game
Rack Report: Joe Lacefield’s Longbow Double-Drop-Tine Buck
Buck: Estimated 160-inch non-typical
Hunter: Joe Lacefield
Location: Versailles, Ky.
Time of Year: Sept. 2
Weapon: Longbow with Carbon Express Maxima Hunter arrows, 100-grain brass inserts and 100-grain three-blade Muzzy broadheads
Joe Lacefield was a 16-year-old bowhunter in 1981. He found himself in a wood lot, high in a tree in an old Baker climbing stand. No safety harnesses in those days, so Lacefield secured himself to the tree with a rope around his waist. A 170-inch, 10-point monster strolled by his stand, and the young hunter was understandably rattled. The buck escaped Lacefield unscathed, but a gun hunter killed it later that season. In a long bowhunting career since, Lacefield says that animal and that spot have always haunted him.
Fast-forward to the 2012 season. Lacefield is a dedicated bowhunter to this day. He’s packed a Herway custom longbow to the woods for the past three seasons, and has used it to take 15 or so whitetails. Lacefield’s yard is set up as a makeshift 3-D course with 30 targets. He practices with the stickbow on a near daily basis.
That’s not to say the hunter shuns modern technology. Lacefield is a trail-camera fanatic, and through the help of his scouting cameras, had honed in on a particular big buck to hunt during the early season. Thing is, like many early season deer, his options were basically limited to afternoon hunts. With the Kentucky season only two days old, however, Lacefield was eager to hunt all he could. So he made plans for a morning sit in a woodlot for the second morning.
“It’s almost impossible to get into the spot I was hunting in the mornings without bumping deer,” he says, “and so I decided to hunt a lock-on stand in a little woodlot, where the deer are apt to come from any direction. Based on the wind, it was the best option I had.”
That little woodlot is the same one he hunted as a teenager, where the big 10-pointer evaded him. The lock-on stand was in a cedar tree, no more than 100 yards from that spot. Lacefield climbed into his tree just before daylight. The southern humidity has beads of sweat dripping from his nose, but before he could settle in for a drink of water, he heard deer walking through the leaves.
“I could hear them eating acorns and hickory nuts right under me,” he says. “When it got daylight, I could see three little bucks. As I was watching them, a big doe popped out and began walking toward me. I stood up to get ready to shoot her.”
The scene unfolded into a classic bowhunter’s standoff. Lacefield drew on the doe several times, but each time, she’d turn slightly, ruining the shot angle. Finally, she trotted away. But Lacefield would still not get a break for that drink of water. More deer—small bucks and does—constantly worked their way through the woods and under his stand.
“In 20 years of hunting that woodlot, I’ve never seen more deer than I did that morning," he says. "I’d been there an hour and a half, stood up and ready to shoot the whole time.”
At 8 a.m., Lacefield finally got a break and sat down. But it didn’t last. Another doe appeared, and as he was watching her through his binoculars, he heard a twig snap over his shoulder. “I eased around for a look, and there was this buck standing 10 yards away. I saw the velvet hanging, tall tines and a huge body. The decision to shoot was instant.”
Lacefield slowly stood and readied his stance, but the buck had vanished. Instead of continuing on its same path, it was slowly walking to the other side of his stand.
“I turned slowly, and there he was, 10 yards away on a slow but steady walk. I drew my bow, and the arrow just zipped right through him. But he acted unfazed; just kept right on walking. I’ve killed 12 or 15 deer with a longbow, and a I rarely get a pass-through. And I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a deer not react to being shot. I knew I’d hit him good, but I was kind of panicked, so I scrambled for another arrow.”
By this point, the buck was 45 yards away, walking through a thicket. “I knew he was hit, and I just wanted to get another arrow in him. From that distance, I threaded the arrow and somehow managed to hit him right in the shoulder. He stumbled a bit and fell right over. He was dead from the first shot, but you just never know. Only after he was on the ground did I notice the massive drop-tines.”
Lacefield is a Boone and Crockett measurer, but hasn’t scored the buck yet. He estimates it to have 150 inches of typical antler, with an additional 20 inches of abnormal points. Though he did have some trail camera photos of the buck from last season, he'd yet to see the deer in person or on camera this year. His "target" buck will have to wait for another day.
Have a big-buck story you’d like to share? E-mail it to us at rackreport [at] realtree [dot] com.
Submitted on September 06, 2012