Archery deer season is back in complete swing in the Bluegrass State and hunters from across the state, as nicely as about the nation, have hit the Kentucky woods in search of velvet bucks. I’ve had the chance to devote time this week with Will and Michelle Brantley, of Brantley Outdoors in west Kentucky, as we chased velvet bucks through the 2020 Realtree Bow Camp.
Brantley specializes in early season velvet bucks. And that was our mission – to kill a mature buck in velvet ahead of he turned difficult horn. With the 2020 archery season beginning on September 5th, there was a compact window to make it come about. It is not uncommon to see the majority of the bucks in complete velvet on the 5th of September, and largely difficult horn by the 7th, so we had our operate reduce out for us.
We’re back in Kentucky with our sights set on velvet bucks and a cooler complete of meat.
The Game Program
As difficult as it is to remain out of the woods on opening morning, we opted to sleep in, hang out about camp, shoot bows, verify out an assortment of gear in Realtree camo, and concentrate on the prep operate for the afternoon sit.
Bobby Redfern (left) and Will Brantley go more than the game strategy and gear for our Kentucky bowhunt.
Bobby Redfern of Realtree gave us a closer appear at a couple patterns we’d be placing to the test in a wide variety of terrain and landscapes. Realtree Edge and the new Realtree Excape have been the patterns we’d rely on for concealment even though in the treestand. These camo patterns, constructed into the Drive Series apparel from Element Outdoors, produced for a comfy clothes solution regardless of the warm temperatures through our hunt.
The Realtree Excape camo is a bold new pattern that blends into a wide variety of landscapes, each east and west, and is in contrast to the common sticks and limbs pattern that Realtree has been identified for in the previous.
Realtree Edge and Realtree Excape camo have been the patterns of option for our gear on this hunt.
Following acquiring a closer appear at the gear and goods, we stepped out on the camp variety to loosen up, verify sights, and confirm self-assurance in our gear ahead of heading in for lunch.
Checking sights on the variety to assure my Mathews VXR is proper exactly where it demands to be for the afternoon hunt. Photo: Kerry Wix
Consuming Like Kings
Hunting camp cooking can generally be a feast or famine type of deal based on who you are with. But the moment we stepped into the lodge and seasoned the sights and smells of the eats ready by camp cook, Michael Pendley, we knew we’d be consuming like kings through our time at deer camp in Kentucky.
Pendley is the cooking guru and blogger for Realtree’s common Timber2Table meals weblog. If you haven’t checked it out, give it a appear. He’s a down to earth dude sharing recipes that are sensible and effortlessly ready from what you currently have in the kitchen. No crazy components, or outrageous prep chores.
Timber2Table blogger, Michael Pendley, discusses the menu for lunch.
Nervous excitement filled the truck as we produced the drive to our treestands for our 1st sit on the opening afternoon. It is not in contrast to the jitters that come prior to kickoff on game day. I get pumped up and excited, but I’ve also got sweaty hands and a heart price that is kicked up a couple of clicks.
The 1st afternoon discovered me in a lock-on stand on a white oak ridge tucked involving a field, two-lane road, and a neighboring farm that wrapped about the backside of our home.
I slipped into the stand as quietly as doable and started to get items set up ahead of pulling my bow up.
It felt superior to climb back in the treestand with a bow at my side.
Temps have been in the upper 80’s for the afternoon, generating the extended sit in the sun a difficult 1. Luckily, the Realtree pants I was attempting out had zip-off legs. I promptly converted the pants into shorts and sat back to wait on the action to unfold.
With temps pushing 90 degrees, shorts in the treestand was a good solution.
Following a couple extended hours of sweating in the sun, I heard crunching in the leaves and saw deer generating their way down the ridge toward my stand. Top the way have been two fawns followed by their momma. Shortly soon after these deer passed via, a different set of twin fawns came by with an even bigger doe following behind. She was a shooter doe, no doubt, but Brantley had currently warned of blowing the stand place up as well early in the hunt by turning arrows loose on does. I enjoy shooting does, so it would be a test of my patience, especially soon after getting 7 or eight deer slip previous in bow variety as the sun started to dip decrease in the sky.
It is been mentioned that early season velvet buck hunts commonly come down to a 30 minute window of chance ahead of dark. You can sit there all afternoon, but your hunt is generally wrapped up in that half hour ahead of final light.
And regardless of an entertaining parade of activity by the does and fawns, the buck action held accurate to displaying up soon after 7:00pm.
I was surrounded by does and fawns on the oak ridge when two bucks came side-hilling the ridge in front of me. The biggest buck led the way and crossed in front of me, just 18 yards away. I necessary to stand to shoot via an opening in front of me, but I was pinned down with a couple of curious does providing me the evil eye. Even so, as the buck passed by me, the does focused on him alternatively of me. It was my opportunity to make a move.
I eased up from a seated position and did my very best to quietly turn for a shot. I would have 1 compact window in the canopy of limbs to shoot via ahead of the buck was gone. I came to complete draw as the buck approached the opening, squatted to clear a couple of limbs and let the arrow fly as the buck stopped on cue at 23 yards.
I had a compact window of chance for a shot as the buck slipped via the timber.
The shot sounded superior and looked even improved. My lighted nock melted behind the buck’s shoulder, sending him crashing via the woods.
I didn’t hear the buck go down, but was quite confident I heard him cough as the lung shot did its operate and brought the buck’s journey to an finish. I sent a fast text to my guide, Ryan McCafferty, to let him know I had just shot a deer. We produced plans to meet back at the truck and give the buck some time given that I didn’t hear the deer fall, just to be protected.
Following meeting back up at the truck, we decided to head back for supper ahead of coming back with lights and a blood trailing crew to retrieve the deer.
Pendley had a different astounding spread of eats waiting for us when we returned to the lodge. We ate large, swapped stories, and assembled a crew ahead of heading back to the home to take up the blood trail.
Large steaks and large bucks. Life is superior!
As soon as we got back to the home, Will’s wife, Michelle, Ryan, and I headed back down the trail to commence a quiet method to exactly where I shot the deer. I showed them exactly where the shot went down, exactly where I 1st discovered blood, and the path the deer ran off. Michelle is a blood trail tracking guru that’ll place most hunters to shame when it comes to spotting blood on the ground. It was superior to have her along on the trail, especially when the blood began to slow down and became far more spread out.
Following following the trail down into a creek, the blood trail turned back up the ridge. The buck had circled back toward my stand. A moment later, I heard Michelle say my name with additional excitement in her voice. I shined my headlamp up the ridge and saw a white belly on the ground just 20 yards away. The buck had circled back and laid dead much less than 75 yards from my stand. The thick cover didn’t let me to see him fall soon after the shot.
Hugs and higher-fives ensued as Ryan joined us and we all started to celebrate.
It was reminder of how hunting turns strangers into buddies and household as you encounter the highs and lows of hunting collectively.
The buck was a fat-bellied scrapper with a face complete of scars and a neck like November. He was effortlessly the oldest and largest bodied buck I’ve however to lay hands on.
Brantley likes to wrap velvet antlers in bubble wrap to avert harm ahead of moving the deer about for the gutting course of action and haul out of the woods.
With a buck on the ground that would effortlessly tip the scales at 250 pounds, we known as the other guys in for backup on the haul out. We have been just a couple of hundred yards from road access, but wheels and some beefed up horse energy would undoubtedly make the haul out fast and effortless.
Ryan and Will brought the Polaris Common in to enable haul gear and deer out of the woods.
By the time we produced it back to the truck, snapped some images, got the deer in the cooler, and produced the extended drive back to camp, it was practically two:00am. It had been a extended day, complete of excitement and all the stuff us bowhunters dream about all year extended. It was the fantastic opening afternoon bowhunting velvet bucks in Kentucky.
I’ve often been a sucker for goofy-racked bucks. This old scrapper did not get a pass.
We spent the subsequent day sleeping in, taking far more images, and butchering deer about camp. Mike Shea, of Black Rifle Coffee Corporation, had killed a doe the evening ahead of as nicely, so he joined us for knocking out skinning chores ahead of heading out for the afternoon hunt on Day two.
Mike Shea skins out his doe taken the evening ahead of. Getting a stroll-in cooler close by is handy when hunting deer in the early season.
Kentucky Meat Run
With a household of six at house, my crew goes via a lot of meat every year, so a fresh cooler complete of meat was far more than welcomed to get the 2020 archery season began off proper.
That is also why I jumped at the opportunity to climb back in the stand on the afternoon of Day two when Brantley provided a different place that had a quantity of does coming via every afternoon ahead of dark.
Stuck in backroad targeted traffic on the way to the treestand.
I climbed into the stand that evening with Kerry Wix on the back side of the tree in the Tethrd saddle to film the hunt. It was a different extended sit in the sun, but just about the time we have been considering we’d been stuck in the gar hole, I saw a deer moving via the brush toward our stand. As fast as I could turn and inform Wix we had a player out front, the deer was stepping into our shooting lane.
With light fading quickly, I promptly got the greenlight to drop the string and let an arrow fly. The shot looked higher, but the steep angle sent the arrow zipping via the doe’s lungs. She produced a mad dash across the field ahead of piling up just more than the hill.
Natalie Krebs, of Outside Life, and I took benefit of the chance to double up on Day two.
Just soon after dark, Brantley pulled up in the truck to choose us up. Natalie Krebs, from Outside Life, was riding shotgun. Krebs had killed a doe of her personal on the other side of the farm earlier in the evening. It was a good finish to a Kentucky meat run on Day two.
two sits – two arrows sent. I had a good couple days bowhunting velvet bucks in Kentucky.
If you ever get the itch to chase a velvet buck in the early season, be positive to holler at Will and Michelle Brantley of Brantley Outdoors. Their hospitality and down-house really feel make for an early season bowhunting encounter that is difficult to beat.
Bowhunting velvet bucks in Kentucky can be a feast or famine form affair. I was blessed to be in the hot seat for a couple days that permitted me to punch a couple of tags, and hang out in camp with some fine people I now get in touch with buddies.
Mathews VXR 28
Realtree Excape/Edge/Timber Camo
Element Drive Series Apparel
Bushnell Engage Binos and Bone Collector Rangefinder
Rage Hypodermic NC
Easton Axis Arrows
HHA Tetra Sight
HHA Virtus Arrow Rest
Hunter Security Program Shadow Harness
LaCrosse Alpha Agility Boots