An early-season Kentucky trip leads to a giant full-velvet whitetail nicknamed “Spanky”
Rack Report Details
161 1/8 inches (gross)
Time of Year:
Sept. 8, 2020
Jessamine County, Kentucky
Alabama native Hannah Barron might be best known for her catfish noodling exploits, but she's a deer hunter, too. This season, Barron traveled north to Kentucky to try her hand at killing a big, early-season velvet buck. Her destination was Whitetail Heaven Outfitters, which operates on 40,000 acres in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio, and has a reputation of being a big-buck factory.
Among quite a few other target bucks, the guides at Whitetail Heaven had plenty of history with this 5 1/2-year-old deer that Barron fancied. She figured tagging him might take some time, but she nearly had a shot on the very first evening. Barron was sitting on the edge of a timber block. It bordered a big grass field with a finger of trees extending into it. Some oaks dotted the landscape to the right and rear of the stand, but acorns weren’t really dropping yet. And several smaller trees surrounded her perch, providing more cover. It all added up to a great hunting spot.
The buck was passing through the area most days, and Barron hoped it would make the fatal mistake of walking within bow range while she was on stand. On opening afternoon, he almost did. The buck walked all the way in to 45 yards but never turned broadside. He left the way he came.
As the deer departed, Barron noticed he was missing part of his tail. That, paired with the fact the buck had just gotten away, gave Barron an idea for a nickname. She dubbed the deer “Spanky,” and the name stuck.
Several slow days passed before Sept. 8, which was the final afternoon of her hunt. The weather was on the warm side, but not terribly so. Four or five flies met their demise while Barron awaited prime time. It cooled off as the afternoon sun lowered toward the horizon, though, and suspense built.
Barron was back in the same spot where she’d sat three days before. The good news? Spanky still walked the area in daylight. The bad: the wind was light and variable.
Naturally, the first two does to appear acted jittery. A short time later, a young 8-pointer walked in, and he exhibited similar behavior. After that, two more small bucks stepped out, and then the giant materialized right behind them.
“Sure enough, from across the field (my left), Spanky stepped out of the woods and headed our way,” Barron says.
The giant was almost in range when the first 8-pointer spooked and ran. “I thought it was over,” Barron says. “But they all ran a few steps, stood for a while, then finally came back in.”
After a 10-minute stare-down, Spanky finally blinked and walked back in to 31 yards. Drawing with so many eyes and ears on alert wasn’t easy, but Barron got it done, and took the broadside shot. The buck didn’t run far. He lunged a few yards into the wood line and tipped over.
“I didn’t want to give up on such a unique and beautiful buck, especially after seeing him the first day,” Barron says. “He’s my biggest [buck] ever, by far. He has so much character. He’s in full velvet. And I had some history with him. This buck means the world to me.”
Persistence paid off. Barron hunted this buck four days straight, and finally connected. The stud buck grossed 161 1/8 inches. Several friends, including Tevis McCauley, Ty Ellis, Jacob Keel, Scott Spitsley, Cohen Stone, and her father, Jeff Barron, played roles in the success. Her dad even shot a buck on another tract, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. A great week morphed into an ongoing hunt camp party.
And Spanky is a ’Bama fan, now.
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