Written by Brodie Swisher
Tennessee’s 5th annual velvet buck hunt just wrapped up, and hunters from across the state found success on one of deer hunting’s finest trophies – a buck in full velvet.
Tennessee first offered the velvet hunt in 2018. That year, nearly 800 velvet bucks were taken over the course of the 3-day hunt. The hunt has continued to grow in popularity over the last 5 years, with hunters from across the south kicking off their deer season chasing velvet bucks in Tennessee with a bow.
The hunt tends to be a chess match of sorts for hunters as they pick apart every option and angle a buck may take entering and exiting food sources. Soybean fields tend to be the food source of choice during the late-August velvet hunt weekend. These bean fields give hunters the perfect opportunity to glass from a distance in their scouting efforts in the weeks leading up to the hunt.
Identifying entry and exit routes, followed by proper stand placement is the key to success on this hunt. You’ll either be in the hot seat for all the action, or watching the show from a distance. It all comes down to nailing down the trail a deer wants to use for accessing the food source.
Photographer and avid bowhunter, Kerry Wix, had it all figured out after putting in the long hours to confidently know what his target buck would be doing on the first afternoon of the hunt. Wix made good on the intel he had gathered and killed his best buck to date.
“It was a hunt I’ll never forget,” says Wix. “It was a deer I had previous history with, and I put in a lot of work all summer to study his routine. I studied his every move in the closing days and finally closed the chapter with him on the first sit of the 2022 velvet hunt.”
Wix has not had the buck officially scored, but he and friends measured the buck out at 165”. “It’s my biggest buck to date,” says Wix. “You just can’t beat the feeling of being rewarded with something you’ve spent countless hours trying to achieve!”
Another story of sweet success came when brothers, Mack and J.T. Mardis, were hunting together over the weekend. J.T. killed a nice velvet buck in the 2021 velvet season, so Mack was up to bat and had high hopes of taking his first velvet buck.
“J.T. had the group of bucks at 65 yards on the first afternoon, so the next day we went in and hung a double set where the deer had come out the night before,” says Mardis. “We knew we were in the right place, but the deer never showed up all afternoon. But as darkness started closing in fast, the bachelor group of bucks finally came out exactly where we had hoped. With the deer 30 yards away, I got my bow in hand, drew back and shot the biggest buck in the group, hitting him perfect.”
Surprisingly, after Mack made the shot, the rest of the bucks stood around trying to figure out what had just happened. A moment later, the bucks started walking right toward the Mardis brothers. The two quickly swapped out video camera and bows and prepared for J.T. to take the shot on the second buck of the night. And that’s just what happened.
Within 30 seconds, the brothers had both delivered deadly shots on velvet bucks from the same treestand in Tennessee. After putting a tape to the bucks, Mack’s first velvet rang up at 140 inches, while J.T.’s buck measured out at 127 inches. Two brothers – two great bucks – one unforgettable evening in the deer woods.
Be sure to check back in to MossyOak.com in the weeks ahead as Mississippi kicks off its inaugural velvet buck season September 16-18. We look forward to the new opportunities and memories to be made during this upcoming hunt for Mississippi bowhunters.