HOLDEN, W.Va. — Chase Herndon is no stranger to the steep hills and hollows of southern West Virginia. The native of Holden in Logan County has been chasing big bucks in the rugged country since he was old enough to draw back a bow. He’s also tagged some of those legendary coalfield monsters as well. But his girlfriend, Megan Curtis wasn’t quite as accustomed to the kind of commitment required when you’re going after trophy bucks in that part of the world.
“I’ve hunted some mountains and I’ve been around it. I’d actually just gotten back from a trip to Colorado for an elk hunt. But yeah, it was still steep and it was tough sledding, plus you have to get really high in a tree stand,” explained Curtis who is a western Kentucky native.
But with Chase’s guidance she was determined to do what it took to tag a mountain monster. During the first weeks of October, that’s exactly what she did. Megan works in Nashville and only had a couple of days to spend on her West Virginia hunt, so she relied on Chase to do most of the scouting and prep work.
Herndon had struggled in recent months to find a buck he really wanted to pursue and had recently moved to new hunting grounds in Logan County.
“It didn’t take that deer any time to show up and he was coming in consistently. I knew we had a cold front coming in the day before she got here and I had a good feeling that deer was going to start daylighting when that cold front got here,” he explained in a recent conversation on West Virginia Outdoors.
Megan arrived and the following day, the two climbed into a 35 foot perch in the steep and rugged terrain of Logan County. According to Chase, a high vantage point is important since many of the deer come off the ridge top and will be eye level with you if you’re not high enough. As they moved into the area 45 minutes before daylight, they bumped a deer. Chase could see in the moonlight it looked like the buck they were after.
“I was a little bit worried because usually when you bump them you don’t see them for a while, especially an old one like him. I didn’t think we were going to have a chance to see him, but it ended up working out,” he said.
The two spent a cold and wet morning in the stand, but left to grab some lunch and return in the mid-afternoon to prepare for the evening hunt. A cold and misty rain continued to make conditions less than comfortable and far from ideal, but just as the hunt looked most bleak, Chase herd a twig break.
“I looked up and all I could see was those big ole thick main beams coming through the brush. I told her to get ready,” he said.
Meagan heard Chase say something, but couldn’t understand him. When she looked his way, she too saw the massive antlers moving along and didn’t need to be told twice. The deer moved slow and cautiously, in no hurry to get anywhere.
According to Megan he was technically in a shooting lane when she first saw him, but she didn’t feel comfortable with the shot. She patiently waited another 20 minutes to a half hour for him to make the move.
“All I could see was his head, his body was behind a tree. He gave me about a step and a half, I really wanted two, but he wasn’t giving it. The shot I had felt like it was about an inch wide between the shoulder blade and the little tree he had stepped in front of, but we were able to get it done,” said Megan.
The old monster buck moved down the hill quickly. Chase had been filming and reviewed the footage which showed a pretty good shot on target. The couple slowly made their way out of the tree and down hill without sighting much blood at first. But soon there was blood and eventually the arrow which showed a good amount of it. Megan finally spotted the buck which ran about 100 yards before he died.
“I was surprised on how big this deer was body wise, more than his rack size. He was a big dude. We had no clue truly exactly what size he was. His body was so big, it actually took away from the size of his antlers, but when we got to him I kept saying, ‘That dude is big,” she laughed.
“She impressed me. She climbed the mountains and that tree like a champ,” said Chase.
He added he was also impressed by her work to pull the massive deer up out of the steep hollow by hand moving ten to fifteen yards at a time straight up hill. With the big buck secure, she was able to make it back to Nashville without missing a beat on her job.