Tagging a nice velvettail during the opening week of archery season is no small feat, and getting a gross Booner is on a whole other level. So the odds of a father-son duo accomplishing that feat, on the same opening day, have to be somewhere close to zero. However, Robbie and Garrett Ammons of Hardin County, Kentucky, did just that on September 3rd.
And it wasn’t lightning. These people know what they are doing. In 2020, we profiled a 12-point behemoth killed by Garrett at the Fort Knox military installation. And Robbie, Garrett’s dad, is a veteran bowhunter with a wall full of monster bucks — including a pair of 200-inchers. In short, if you’re a big Kentucky tail, you don’t want one of these men chasing you. But even these father-son teams admit that opening day of the 2022 Bluegrass State bowhunt was something special.
Robbie Ammons’ typical 185 inches
Robbie began the amazing opening by tagging a buck he knew well. “Dad had a 4-year history with his money,” Garrett tells F&S. “Three years ago we knew he was going to be a good deer and we were lucky to find one side of his shed that spring. The following year, we had a number of pictures of him, but he was mostly nocturnal and difficult to hunt. That spring, we found both of his money; they scored 167 inches with a credit spread of 16 inches. The following year, the crop rotation switched to corn and it completely disappeared. We know bucks like that farm best when it’s in the beans, but we were weird not getting any photos at all, and we used cameras there from June to January. We were sure he was dead.”
However, this summer, with the farm turned to beans, Robbie was scouting the area when he spotted a big buck with the same frame and strike as the ones they thought were gone. They weren’t sure if it was the same buck at first, but as the summer went on the deer exploded, getting bigger and bigger each week. “Dad had a camera outside and took to it immediately, so we put one of the photos from this summer next to one from 2 years ago, and the frame was identical, just more massive, so we knew it was the same value,” he says Garrett. . Even though they were getting lots of pictures of the buck, when August came, the day’s images really dropped off. “But then the father remembered a place where he had taken pictures in the morning two years ago. So he slipped there, and sure enough, five out of the next seven days. the camera caught the buck sneaking back into his bed in the morning, all in broad daylight.”
Robbie was worried about knocking the beans off the beans on a morning hunt, but there was a logging road that ran through the block of wood where the plantain was laid, and he felt he could use it to slip quietly and without being seen. So, on opening morning, he grabbed a climbing stand, got in early and took off. Around 8am, Robbie looked up and there he was. “The man got in just 24 feet,” says Garrett. “Dad took the shot and saw the dollar rip off.” After a short tracking job, Dad had the money he always dreamed of. He already has two over 200 inches, but he’s always wanted a great typical, and this was it.” In addition to the bulk, the buck had a 4½-inch strike from his G2. Both G2s were 12 inches long and the G3s were 11. The buck clocked 185-4/8 inches.
Garrett Ammons’ 183-inch stud
Garrett’s turn came just hours later. “I had a bachelor party for one of my friends on Friday night, which went back to Saturday morning, and it was still going on when I left,” he laughs. “But my friend knows how I like to shoot deer with a bow, and that I had to go looking for this money.” The deer was one that Garrett had only found a few months before, but he knew right away that it was worth pursuing. “This was on a different farm than the one Dad hunted. We always set up cameras and some corn (legal in Kentucky) and try to get an idea of the number and quality of bucks on a property. I took a picture of this buck on the afternoon of July 24th when he fed for about 15 minutes and left. And then he disappeared completely. I kept the cameras out and covered the fields, but I couldn’t find him.”
Eventually Garrett made his way to the opposite side of the farm, where a cornfield ran up to the wood near a creek bottom. “I found a good sign at a creek crossing, set up the camera, and he was the first deer to walk in front of it. Even better, there were very few days he didn’t show up, so I knew I was looking at the area where he lived. There is a very good place of glass about 200 yards from the bottom of the creek, and I went there eight evenings to get it in the scope or binoculars; he appeared six of those times.” Garrett never had a problem identifying the buck because not only was he big, but his velvet was white. So much so, that Garrett worried it might mean the deer will shed velvet early, before the season even starts. “Not only was I really hoping to get him into the velvet, but I know a lot of money gets greedy right after the velvet is shed, and I was afraid he’d disappear again.”
With the season fast approaching, Garrett continued to see bucks in the evenings. “From Sunday to Wednesday, the week before opening, I saw him every night,” he says. “Three times he came out of the wood and walked by the cornfield, but the other two nights he came out of the wheat. Either way, I knew I had to be on the edge of that field on opening night.” In the late afternoon, after returning home from his bachelor party, Garrett packed up his gear and headed out to the site with a climbing stand and his bow. “Right in the prime, I had a doe, a doe, and an 8-pointer come out of the woods and walk right by me. I was watching them, making sure none of them were aware of me, when I heard another deer coming. I looked into the woodwork and there was that white velvet shelf, coming toward me.”
Like his father’s buck that morning, Garrett’s buck walked within easy range of the bow. “I just put the needle in his ribcage and hit him,” he says. “Derry broke away and, while I didn’t hear him go down, I knew he was in trouble. I called my father immediately and he rushed out to the farm with the quad.” After another short tracking job, they were standing on a buck that was even bigger than they thought. “From my photos and observations, we figured he might be in the mid-170s, but my buck scored just a touch under dad’s, earning 183-4/8.
Garrett, a staff pro for PSE, Mossy Oak and Nomad Outdoors, has had remarkable success for a 23-year-old hunter. “I was lucky enough to kill my first deer when I was only 5 years old,” he says. “But everything I know about deer hunting, I learned from my father; he has a million tricks up his sleeve, and he’s always finding a new way to ride a big deer that amazes me. We’ve had tons of hunting memories over the years, but when we stood on my buck, enjoying a quiet holiday, I think we both knew this day was going to be tough to get through.”