What does it take to tag a Booner whitetail on a DIY public land hunt? Well, Missouri deer Jace Allen can tell you it’s not easy. To get his, he traveled to Kentucky, pressure-hunted deer for three straight weeks and passed a 150-inch buck on public land. But the payoff was huge. With a gross green score of 182, Allen’s buck breaks the B&C minimum of 170 and is the largest public land buck we’ve seen or heard of so far this fall.
Allen does most of his hunting in his home state of Missouri, but his friends in Kentucky had been pestering him to come down and hunt. “I actually wouldn’t have hunted there before, but then my friend started sending me pictures of a couple of bucks living on public land,” he said. “I had a job change recently that gave me more time to hunt, so I finally decided it was time to go. Plus the money he had on the street camera was pretty amazing.” Allen arrived just before bow opening in Kentucky and was determined to stay until he killed a good buck.
Where there are deer, there is hunting pressure
For the first few days, Allen spent most of his time doing research: “I was actually there the day before opening, looking at the land and the topography and how the deer moved,” he told F&S. “There were some good blocks of wood, but I noticed that a lot of hunter effort seemed to be concentrated in those woods. Meanwhile, there were also several large fields of corn and soybeans that I knew would be major food sources for the deer. So the first couple of mornings, I just settled in so I could scout those fields at dawn, see where the deer were feeding and where they might be going to bed for the day.”
Allen quickly learned that hunting pressure was affecting the way the whitetails were using the habitat. “I suppose you might come across some deer in the timber, but my impression was that most of the deer, and almost all the good bucks, basically avoided the woods and lived in the corn and soybean fields,” he said. “The buck I ended up shooting was one we called ‘Crab,’ and he often traveled with another very nice buck, which my friend also had pictures with. This deer also lay and fed in the fields, and I was not the only one who knew him. One morning I was glassing him and saw him lying on the beanstalk. I was planning a stalk when I noticed another bowhunter trying to sneak up on him. He failed, and I saw five other bowhunters threaten him before that morning, and they all failed. I was the seventh person chasing the buck, and I didn’t even get hit.”
Hiding for a shot
Eventually, Allen found himself focusing on Crabs, a buck that had been hit by a bowhunter in the early days of the season. “I actually helped the hunter follow the blood trail the night he shot,” Allen said. “We chased some pretty good blood but never recovered. As I later learned, the arrow had actually hit the dollar rack, and since it was on velvet, that’s why we found so much blood. When I finally got the money, you could see the head mark on his shelf.”
In the days after that trail of blood, Allen was surprised to be able to spot the Crabs again. “I found an island of trees near the corn and beans that allowed me to see very well, and the area also had good deer sign,” he said. I even had a chance at a nice 8 point that I thought would go to 150, but I had already had several encounters with these bigger deer and decided to pass on the shot. I hoped I wouldn’t regret it.”
Allen’s persistence finally paid off on the 20th day of his hunt. “I was sitting on that island of trees on a morning hunt and I saw Crabs in the bean field,” he said. “He fed for a while and then went to bed. I did my best to mark the spot, then headed for my car. I wanted to check the wind direction and make sure I could slide in there and land on it without hitting it. When I got to my vehicle, I kind of laughed; this buck was parked less than 100 yards from the road and vehicles were driving by and no one but me knew it was parked there. I gathered my gear and began sneaking into the bean, using the wind to shield any sound I made as I worked my way towards it. When I thought I was about 70 yards from his bed, I settled; I was on my knees and I just decided to wait for him to stand up, then I would figure out what to do from there.”
Allen gets his chance
After two hours of waiting, Allen was in for a pleasant surprise. “Suddenly this huge rack, followed by Crabs, came out of the beans – only 29 meters away,” he said. “He looked around a bit, right in my direction, then settled down to feed. I rose to my feet and came to full draw, and when I saw that I had a clear path to his life, I made the shot. The shot looked pretty good and he took off, then stopped again to look around. I quickly moved it to 63 yards, caught it and shot another arrow and shot it again. This time he broke away and I sensed he was in a lot of trouble. He reached the edge of a CRP field adjacent to beans and overturned. I couldn’t believe it; after nearly three weeks of hunting, I finally had one of the bucks I was going to come out there to hunt.”
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Allen’s budget was worth the effort. The buck had 14 points scored, with browbones that were more than 6 inches long and G2 and G3 all 10 inches or better. Allen came up with a gross green score of 182 inches. “Even more important to me than how much hunting and effort it was and how much I learned,” he said. “It was something to watch these mature bucks avoid hunting pressure, never leaving the area and just adapting to where and when they were meeting people. You would think they would go at night with all the hunters around, but they didn’t. In most cases, they were easily visible from at least one road, but when they heard a vehicle coming, they would lie down for 45 to 60 minutes, then return to their business. It was quite an education and to walk out of there with a big trophy was just icing on the cake.”