Editor’s Note: Twenty-eight-year-old Corey Bacon lives in Lebo, Kansas, and has been hunting deer for 15 years.
The woods were silent 1-1/2 hours before legal shooting time. But just before the dawn, Corey heard bucks fighting. “Our rut is usually over by the end of November, and this was December 8, 2018,” Corey says. “I was somewhat surprised to hear a buck fight in the soybean field, about 300 yards from my ground blind.”
For three years, Corey had trail-camera pictures of a big buck named Stickers. Stickers was a main-frame 8 pointer with drop tines coming off his main beam. All the adjacent landowners in about a two mile radius of where he was hunting on his wife Courtney’s family farm had seen at some time or had trail-camera pictures of Stickers.
Corey believed that he knew who the two big bucks fighting in the darkness were. One might be Stickers, and the other buck probably was a main frame 8 that would score about 160 inches and was about the same size as Stickers. Since Corey was hunting at the end of deer season, he’d already decided that if he had an opportunity to take either of those older-age-class bucks, he’d take the shot. Both deer were on the hit list not only for the property he hunted but also for the surrounding lands. Stickers had caused quite a stir with the landowners in the area, who had shared pictures and information about him and tried to pattern him.
“This buck and his running mate really pulled the surrounding landowners together in an unusual way,” Corey reports. “We all had decided that whoever had the opportunity to bag this buck should take the shot, and that we’d all be excited and proud of the hunter.” Corey hunts with both a bow and a rifle. “I’d hunted Stickers 35 times before during the 2018 bow season, but the buck never came within bow range,” Corey explains.
In 2018, the farmers cut their crops at a different time than usual. So, instead of coming to the field where Corey was bowhunting, the deer were entering the field about 600 yards from Corey’s bow stand. “When I scouted this area where the deer were coming into the field that I was hunting, I realized I didn’t have a tree within bow range of the deer trail where I could set-up my tree stand,” Corey says. “There was only one large tree where I possibly could take a stand, and I decided to build a natural ground blind of brush and limbs around the base of that tree to hunt from during rifle season.” The neck of woods Corey was hunting was surrounded by soybean fields. On one side of the property was a wildlife refuge that was hunted very little and then only with a bow during September and October. It closed for hunting November 1 and throughout the rut.
“From my trail-camera pictures, I learned that over the 3 years I’d hunted Stickers he’d added 20 to 30 inches to his rack,” Corey reports. “I also learned that Stickers and the other big 8 would feed on a neighboring property owner’s soybean field before legal shooting light. Then they’d leave and move onto our land at about legal shooting time, walking down a tree line on our property before going into the refuge to spend the day. So, when I heard the two bucks fighting, I made the decision that if either one of those bucks came into the field where I was hunting, I’d take him, because gun deer season was rapidly coming to an end.”
On December 8, Corey had gone to his ground blind before legal shooting light. Hunting with a Marlin .270 with a Nikon https://www.nikonusa.com/ ProStaff rifle scope and a Winchester www.winchester.com bullet, he was using Vortex https://vortexoptics.com/binoculars/vortex-diamondback-hd-binoculars.html Diamondback 10×42 binoculars.
“The buck came out of the tree line, walked into the field we owned and turned broadside about 30 yards from the refuge property line,” Corey recalls. “I’d ranged the buck at 108 yards and had my rifle resting on shooting sticks.”
Although Corey had a solid rest, his adrenaline level had amped up. “I took one deep breath and exhaled slowly to try and settle myself down, so I wouldn’t have to rush the shot,” Corey explains. “Then I squeezed the trigger. When Stickers took the bullet, he ran hard for about 10 yards, slowed his pace, stopped, became unsteady and started backing up. Next he fell over backwards and landed on his side – not 2 feet from where he’d taken the bullet.” Corey remained in his stand for 30 minutes, watched Stickers with his binoculars, came out of his stand and then walked across the field to where Stickers lay.
“When I reached Stickers, I was surprised, because I honestly thought that I was shooting the other 8 pointer that would have scored about 160,” Corey says. “However, as soon as I saw those drop tines on the buck’s rack, I immediately recognized him to be Stickers. Then I experienced a second huge adrenaline rush that was hard to describe. After taking Stickers to the taxidermist, I took his antlers to the Monster Buck Classic in Wichita, Kansas, to be measured. Stickers made the irregular category ad scored 202-5/8 on Buckmasters.”
To learn more about hunting deer, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” available in Kindle, Print and Audible versions, at (http://amzn.to/YpoQHA). You may have to copy and paste this link into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read 10% of the book for free).
Tomorrow: Dr. Travis Links’ 183-3/8 Inch Bow Buck Deer