GILBERT, W.Va. — When stories are told about big bucks killed in southern West Virginia from now on, the 2017 season for Jessie Hatfield and his family will no doubt become lore.
Hatfield, from Gilbert, West Virginia, killed what will likely be the biggest deer taken in 2017 in West Virginia in Logan County. The 15 point monster officially scored 175 4/8ths, making it the fourth largest typical buck ever killed in West Virginia. Amazingly however, the story doesn’t end there. Hatfield’s three sons and his daughter-in-law also scored trophy book bucks during the 2017 season.
Jessie first spied the 15 pointer in 2016 near the end of the season. However, the aged white tail buck had seemed to disappear since that time. It wasn’t until right around mid November of 2017 when he finally showed up on one of Hatfield’s trail cameras at a location in Logan County not far off the Hatfield McCoy Trail System.
“We were surprised when we got him on camera because we didn’t know if he’d made it through the winter or that he was even there.” Hatfield said during an appearance on West Virginia Outdoors. “So I started hunting the buck in the morning and evening at the camera site–but he was always showing up at the night.”
The frustration with the elusive buck got the best of Hatfield who decided he wanted better eyes on the area. He put up trail cameras in a wide circle around his stand and the move paid off with some critical intel.
“I caught him coming in another way to the stand where I was hunting him,” he said. “So I backed off and moved the stand and I was planning on hunting him in the evening.”
The day of the encounter, Jessie arrived about 11 a.m. figuring the buck might move in in the late afternoon. It turned out he didn’t have to wait nearly that long.
“Low and behold, it was around 12:40 here came a doe around the point and that big buck was with her,” said Hatfield. “It was the first time I had seen that buck in the daylight ever. This buck wound up being shot in the middle of the day.”
There was plenty of activity as the scene unfolded. Hatfield explained the big buck was following a doe and there was an eight point buck trying to challenge him. All of this was happening in front of Hatfield, while the buzz of four wheelers could be heard not far away on the Hatfield McCoy Trail and coal trucks were making a racket moving up and down a haul road on the other side of the hollow.
“You know that doesn’t seem to bother these deer down here any more because they’re used to it,” he said. “It’s a normal sound that happens year round.”
With his nerves admittedly frayed, Hatfield pulled back on the biggest buck of his life, tried to steady himself, and gently touched his release. He sent the arrow flying 47 yards on a downward angle just as the big buck took a step. To his dismay, the shot was further back than he had hoped and caught the deer in the gut. Worried about a bad shot, Jessie steadied himself for an hour before he went to track the bruiser.
“I went over the hill about 100 yards and there was blood in some places and none in others,” he said. “I pulled my stuff down and decided to go to the bottom of the mountain where there was a road coming into the area he had gone. When I finally got there, I stopped to put my jacket on and I looked up and there he stood.”
The big buck was still alive and still on his feet. Hatfield could only watch as the buck slowly maneuvered through the woods about a hundred yards away and finally laid down. Jessie stared at the buck until dark–and returned the next morning early, where he managed to find the big animal in the exact same place.
Hatfield’s big buck was the highest point of a lot of high points for his family during the 2017 hunting season. His oldest son Craig Cline killed the ten point buck Jessie had originally been hunting.
“He killed that one in the same area as my big buck but in another stand. I had that deer on camera. He had a 21 inch spread, but not a tine longer than three inches,” said Jessie. “I would have been happy to go in there and killed that buck, but I was after the big one.”
Jessie’s son Brandon Hatfield, who lives in Ritchie County, didn’t have a lot of time off to hunt. He came home for a few days around Thanksgiving and ended up killing a ten point buck in Mingo County.
“Brandon’s wasn’t that far from the house here,” said Jessie. “I had stands and deer on cameras over here, but I had been spending all my time looking for that big buck and didn’t get a chance to hunt them. He wound up killing his on his second day here in Mingo County.”
A third son, Zachary Hatfield also scored a ten point buck back in Logan County.
“Zach’s ended up coming about five miles from where I killed my deer,” Jessie explained. “Between us we have 10 or 12 camera sites. Zach put his time in at one of his areas and he killed that nice ten point that will probably go in the 130’s.”
Not to be outdone, Zach’s wife, Destiny Hatfield, killed a 12 point buck also in Logan County. .
“That is something there, because I had that deer on another camera back on this side of the
mountain in Mingo County,” explained Jessie. “I set up on that deer several times until I got pictures of the big buck. I hunted him several times right on top of the ridge near the Mingo and Logan border, but I never saw him.”
But the rut apparently made Destiny’s 12 pointer desperate for female companionship.
“Low and behold during all this rutting, that girl ended up killing that deer five miles from where he first showed up on camera before the season,” laughed Jessie. “She was hunting in a whole other
area away from where he was seen. She and Zach were in there and watching some does and that big buck just stepped out. She was just in the right place at the right time.”
It completed a five buck year for the Hatfield family, and a year which may never be topped.
“We were surely blessed, buddy, that’s for sure.”