CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Most deer hunters spend their life dreaming about that “buck of a lifetime.” A few get the opportunity to harvest the animal and put it on the wall for years to come as a cherished memory. For most, it’s just a dream which never comes to fruition.
One hunter in Randolph County recently came into a most unusual situation. He was able to kill the buck of a lifetime, but couldn’t feel all that great about the accomplishment.
The picture of a massive buck with a couple of thick drop tines made the rounds on social media in late October. Shared thousands of times across the internet, it became the subject of a lot of conversation, conjecture, and frankly unwarranted rumor and speculation. The buck was so unique and the story so bizarre, I endeavored to find out the true story from the man who killed it.
He asked that I not use his name. He’s not necessarily ashamed of the buck, but the circumstances make it hard to pose for the “grip and grin” photos. It’s an incredibly unique buck and he killed it legally, but it’s story is even more unique.
“My wife left the house for work, but in a few minutes she came back upset and told me there was a big buck that looked like it had been hit by a car down the road,” he said.
He went down to inspect the situation and what he found astonished him. The gigantic buck had a massive non-typical rack entangled in the wires of his neighbor’s tension-wire fence. The buck was barely breathing. It was hard to tell if the deer had worn itself out trying to get untangled from the mass of wire or if he had become ensnared staggering off the road after being struck by a vehicle.
“If I would have known it was just caught in the fence, I would have cut the fence and let him loose, but he wasn’t moving at all and barely breathing,” he explained. “I saw no evidence that he’d been hit by a car, but it looked like his neck was broken.”
Using his crossbow, the unnamed hunter put a bolt through the animal to end its suffering. He immediately called the Natural Resources Police to explain what had occurred. They arrived and investigated. Officers determined since he had shot it with a cross-bow, it was a legal kill during archery season and checked it in as a bow kill in Randolph County.
“In the 42 years I’ve been bow hunting, I always hoped I would encounter a Pope and Young buck. I had some guidelines and parameters, like no bait, no cameras, and no permanent tree stands,” he explained. “Through the 42 years who would have guessed your buck of a lifetime would meet his demise tangled in a fence 200 yards from your front porch.”
“I can no longer pull back a bow, so I use a crossbow now. But if I had seen this deer, or one like it, I would have spent days on end in a tree stand. Now, I will wait until next year’s archery tag. Honestly, I don’t think it will happen to me again in my lifetime, but I will continue to hunt as long as I can with hope of my Pope and Young trophy.”
He does plan to get the deer mounted and hopes to at least get an unofficial score to know the size of the rack. Due to the circumstances, it would not be recorded in the Pope and Young record books, but it will be quite the conversation starter for many years to come.