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The Hunt for Body, the Big Velvet-Antlered Buck

provided by John E. Phillips 

Scott Sharp of Lebanon, Tennessee, a Mossy Oak Pro Staff member since 2013, hunts whitetails with a bow, a rifle and a muzzleloader, and during turkey season, he hunts with a shotgun. He and his brother D.W. have discovered a way to have their outdoor cake and eat it too. Scott explains, “We buy small properties, improve them for hunting, hunt them for 1-2 years and then sell them for a profit.”  

velvet buck on camera

I found my velvet-antlered buck I wanted to take on a 40-acre property we’d only bought eight months earlier. We had improved the property, planted three green fields on it and put out trail cameras. When I saw a picture of this velvet-antlered buck, I knew he was one of the biggest bucks I’d ever seen. I always think that deer in the velvet look much bigger than they are in hard horn. I actually had to sit down where I saw that photo of this huge buck, because I realized he was a great deer. What impressed me even more was the fact that this buck had five other smaller bucks in the picture. I field-judged that buck to be about a 140 class. In my section of Tennessee, that’s a good ‘un. I had trail camera pictures of this velvet-antlered buck throughout the summer and was able to watch his antlers grow. I knew I wanted to take him during Tennessee’s velvet buck hunt season. 

On a Friday morning, I saw him in person, but he was 80 yards out from my stand, feeding in one of our clover patches, and had a really nice buck with him. But neither of these two bucks came to within bow range. The next day on Saturday, I got to watch the big velvet buck I’d now named Body for 45 minutes to an hour feeding in my BioLogic clover patch. I’d seen a movie once with a larger-than-life character with that name. When I saw that big velvet-antlered buck for the first time, the name Body popped into head. He was far bigger than any of the other bucks. However, the buck never came in close enough for me to take him with my bow.   

The following weekend, I was working an event for Mossy Oak that morning, and my brother hunted from the tree stand where I’d been seeing Body, the velvet-antlered buck. He saw him in the same clover patch where I’d spotted him. After the velvet deer season, bow season opened the following week. But rain fell from Monday – Wednesday. I didn’t have a chance to hunt the velvet-antlered buck. I’d been working those days it rained, and then on Thursday when I came to work, D.W. looked at me and said, “You’re not in the woods.” I smiled and answered, “Don’t ask me. I’m on my way there.”

buck in velvet

After leaving work, going home, eating and dressing in my Mossy Oak camouflage on Thursday, I went to my tree stand on that 40 acres. Just before dark, a doe came out of the standing corn and moved into the green field, about 40 yards away down the fence line to my right. I looked back from where she’d come and spotted a buck following the same trail on which she’d moved.  Next another buck moved out of the corn behind the first buck, and the second buck was Body. Then a third buck came out behind Body. 

The first buck, instead of going straight to the doe out in the green field, walked down the edge of the corn and came to within 20 yards of my tree stand. He continued on that same route until he reached the end of the corn, turned and went out into the food plot to feed. That rack probably would score 120 inches, and we’d already decided not to shoot him that season. Body continued moving down the edge of the corn. I had the wind in my favor and had sprayed down with Scent Capture. 

To get into my stand, I’d walked through the corn, and I thought Body probably would stop at the place where I’d walked through the corn – about 35 yards away. When Body reached that spot, he dropped his head and smelled the ground. “I’m busted,” I thought. However, in only a second or so, Body raised his head, looked to the left and to the right and continued to come down the edge of the corn, directly to me. Then he stopped at 25 yards, broadside to me. 

I released my arrow from my Barnett Razor Ice Crossbow with a Black Eagle Zombie Slayer bolt with a 100-grain Swhacker broadhead on the front of the bow. Since I had a Lumenock on my bolt, I could see the flight of the bolt, the broadhead hitting the buck, and the light of the Lumenock shining on the other side of Body, indicating a clean pass-through. I came out of my stand, picked up my bolt and saw it was painted from the broadhead to the nock with red. 

Because the day had turned dark, I went back to my truck, called my brother, told him I’d shot Body. Once D.W. arrived, we followed Body’s blood trail that crossed the fence and went onto our neighbor’s property. My neighbor always had told me that if I shot a buck that later crossed the fence, I had permission to retrieve my buck. “Don’t even call me,” my neighbor had said. We crossed the fence, located Body and took him home.

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