Check out the tines on Justin Hogan’s early season Kentucky bow kill
Rack Report Details
171 7/8 inches (green gross score)
Time of Year:
September 8, 2019
Fayette County, Kentucky
Justin Hogan is a hard-working deer hunter. He has 11 Pope & Young-class bucks to his name, and he was looking forward to the beginning of another good season in Kentucky. He had several good deer on camera, but one buck in particular really caught his eye.
While most of Hogan’s hunting spots are close to home, he had another property that was more than an hour’s drive away. The place had it all: standing corn, good cover and water, and so Hogan made sure to put out cameras in early summer to see if he could locate a good buck.
In July, he found one. A massive buck with towering G3s seemed to pose for a picture. Hogan continued checking his cameras the rest of the summer, hoping to get another picture of the deer, but he didn’t get one. He suspected the buck spent most of its time around a giant soybean field across the highway, and so on opening day, he made the decision to hunt a different buck on a different farm, closer to home. But that deer didn’t show, either.
Early the next morning, Hogan decided to make the drive to check the cameras on the distant farm, just in case the big buck had come back. “I knew the beans were starting to turn, and I thought just maybe the cooler weather might have the buck changing patterns,” he said.
When Hogan pulled the card and started flipping through photos, he couldn’t believe what he saw. The big buck came back the evening before, in daylight, and in range of his stand. Hogan knew he needed to hunt. Problem was, he hadn’t packed any of his gear. He quickly drove home, grabbed his stuff, and came back to hunt that evening.
The stand was in a strip of heavy cover that led from the suspected bedding area to some standing corn. Hogan knew any deer he saw would be on top of him before he could see them in the thick brush, but he hoped the heavy cover would make them more comfortable moving in daylight. He had a pile of bait in front of his stand, just 13 yards away. “It was closer than I was comfortable with, but it was so thick in there, that was the only spot that offered a clear shot.”
Around 6 p.m., a lone doe made her way down the trail below him. She slipped to the base of the treestand and began sniffing the area where Justin had walked in.
“I was nervous that she was going to blow out of there and alert every deer in the area,” he said. Luckily, though the doe was nervous, she didn’t blow. Instead, she simply eased out of sight, and things calmed back down.
Just before dark, Hogan looked up to see a buck coming toward him. It was the big fellow. The deer was alone and coming straight in to the bait. It stopped, but was facing toward Hogan’s stand. “I didn’t know how I was even going to get drawn with him looking my direction like that,” he said. Luckily, a horse fly helped. The buck turned to bite at the fly on his back, and Hogan immediately came to full draw. But sensing movement in the tree above, the old buck instantly snapped to attention.
“The shot angle wasn’t the greatest, but the buck was only 13 yards away, and I knew it was now or never,” Hogan said. With the buck facing nearly straight on, he put his pin at the base of the buck’s neck. Justin was confident that he could get his arrow by the shoulder blade, and at the extremely close rage, that he should get adequate penetration. He released the arrow.
The buck spun and charged off into heavy cover, and almost immediately disappeared from sight. Hogan never heard him crash. Just before dark, he quietly climbed down and went to the spot where the deer had been standing. There was blood — a good sign.
The hunter backed out and went to his truck. After calling his dad and some buddies to tell them what happened, he sat in the truck to calm down and give the deer some time. After three hours, he went back in to pick up the trail. There was good blood the first hundred yards. Then less for the next hundred. After tracking for 300 yards, Hogan began to worry. Pinpricks of blood turned into large chunks of clotted blood, which raised hopes. But disaster happened. The buck suddenly stood from its bed and crashed off.
“I was sick,” Hogan said. “I thought I was going to throw up.”
Not wanting to leave the area, Hogan backed out and headed to a nearby hotel, where he laid in bed and stared at the ceiling for several hours. Finally, at 4 a.m., he couldn’t stand it any longer. He went back to the spot where the buck had bedded. He picked up a little blood that rapidly dwindled to nothing.
Panic set in. He spent the next hour crawling around the thicket on his knees, looking for sign. Just as he began to lose hope, his flashlight beam hit a white patch of belly hair in front of him. It was his buck, dead. Hogan’s arrow had entered at the base of the buck’s neck, angling almost straight down and exiting just in front of the stomach, catching only one lung as it passed through.
The deer sported a 10-point frame with 13-inch G3s and 11-inch G4s. It green-scored 171 7/8 inches. The buck’s body was so massive that Hogan had to quarter the deer and pack it out in five trips.