Cody Hollingsworth of Lawrence spotted a main frame 10-point on his game cameras last year at his deer club in Newton County. They had the buck on game cameras in September and October of 2020 before the buck vanished. Nobody knew exactly what happened to him or if he’d been killed. If he had died nobody owned up to the deed.
“He showed back up in September and I had him on camera through October,” Hollingsworth said. “I decided to take the camera out so that I could stay out of the area and not alert the buck to my presence during this season.”
Hollinsworth was going to go to another stand last Monday, Dec. 13, and planned to film another buck if he could, but plans changed and he went to the area where the big buck was, primarily due to the wind direction. As it turned out the buck came out at 4:45 and Hollinsworth promptly inserted a surgical precision strike with his Weatherby .270 short-magnum.
Old stand is a winner
The 198-pound buck had grown a bit since last season and now sported 14 points. It was a mainframe 12-point with split brow tines to go with a 17 ½ -inch spread and a 23-inch neck. The rutting buck rough scored in the upper 150’s and had one of his matching tines broken off from fighting. The tine was a perfect match with the one on the other antler as seen in the game camera photos.
“I’d been filming hunts every day and I laid my camera down and didn’t get it, so I didn’t go back to that stand,” Hollingsworth said. “I went to a stand overlooking a lane near where we’d seen the buck on camera. The shoot house was one of the first ones that had been put up and it had small windows and wasn’t as good as the newer ones we had so nobody had hunted it much as a result.
“I was talking to one of my buddies on the way in to the stand and he told me, ‘You’ll probably kill him because nobody has been hunting there!’ There’s a beaver slough to the west of the lane and a fire lane in the middle with pines to the right and another bean field. I think they’ve been traveling to the beans to feed during the late afternoon.”
Accidental sound turns out to be a good thing
A wise old doe came out into the lane and saw something she didn’t like and kept looking at the shoot house and stomping her feet, according to Hollingsworth. That’s when things started heating up.
“I thought she was going to blow my hunt,” Hollingsworth said. “Just then four more does came into the lane and started feeding, but they turned their heads and looked back towards where they’d just entered the lane and stared hard. Suddenly they took off across the lane and the buck charged out into the lane and started running toward the doe that had been eyeing me. I didn’t know if I could get a shot or not because he was running so fast, but I tried to get my gun up. Then the doe broke and ran and he came down the lane towards me at full speed!”
Thump! Hollinsworth accidentally bumped the shoot house with his rifle barrel, and it made such a noise that the buck put the brakes on and skidded to a halt a mere 70 yards away. That’s all it took for the excited hunter to get his sights on him.
Hollingsworth had pulled the trigger as soon as the crosshairs hit the spot and the buck was dead on his feet before he ever knew what happened.
Deer program is working
The club Hollingsworth is hunting in went on a big buck program a few years ago and the deer have been getting better each year. Last year, Hollingsworth killed a 135-inch buck that was 6 ½ years old and this year he killed the buck of a lifetime.
Dead deer don’t grow antlers so it’s a good idea to let them reach maturity to realize their full potential. Since all of the local landowners are on the same program and there is plenty of AG rich crops in the area, all they need is time to mature. Take it from Hollingsworth, he’s benefitted from letting them walk until they are ripe for the picking. Remember, dead deer don’t grow antlers!