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David Hale: How, Why And When He Decides To Take an Opening Day Buck


Our bow season for deer in Kentucky generally comes in around the first week of September. One of the problems then for me is that I don’t really like to harvest a buck in the velvet. That’s not to say I haven’t taken bucks in the velvet, but I think a deer’s antlers out of the velvet are much prettier than a buck that’s in the velvet. If I find a really outstanding buck that I want to take, I’ll hunt him that first week of September when deer season arrives in Kentucky. But if my trail camera reveals that I only have mediocre-size bucks on the land I hunt, I’ll often wait until the second week of September when most of the bucks will be out of the velvet to hunt. But I have taken a number of opening-day bucks over the years. 

DavidHale_day2My partner Harold Knight and I were filming together one time. Back in those days, we were making videos. This was one of the first big bucks I’d ever taken with a bow, and the buck scored 184 inches. When I first saw the buck, I decided I wouldn’t take the shot, because I didn’t think that I could kill that buck. First of all, I was shook up when I spotted that buck, because he was a monster. But if I'm real honest, I didn’t think I could take that buck, because I hadn’t been shooting a bow very long. As I mentioned earlier, Harold was filming the hunt. He was right behind me with his camera, and he leaned up and said, “David, I want you to take that buck.” That gave me the confidence to believe that if that buck got close enough, I was going to take the shot. When I first saw this big buck, he was too far away for me to take the shot. But he walked up to the edge of a food plot, looked out in the food plot, turned back and walked straight toward Harold and me. When the buck was at 15 yards, I released the arrow. Once the buck took the arrow, he immediately started running like his tail was on fire. I felt confident that I had gotten a lethal hit, because I was using the best Muzzy broadhead that I could buy - a three-blade fixed-position broadhead. 

Harold and I climbed out of the tree and went to retrieve my buck. Remember this hunt was more than 20 years ago where bows weren’t as fast as they are now, broadheads weren’t nearly as lethal, and you had to follow a deer a long ways back then when I first started bowhunting to find him. I tell this story to explain why and when I hunt the first day of bow season when I've got a trophy buck patterned and before any other hunter has the opportunity to find and take that buck. 

Day 1: David Hale: No Bugs, No Odor and Velvet-Antlered Bucks

Tomorrow: David Hale and His Early Season Blackpowder Kansas Buck

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