Bowhunter Overhauls His Hunting Property to Tag 185-Inch Buck

Bowhunter Overhauls His Hunting Property to Tag 185-Inch Buck Outdoor Life

Indiana Bowhunter Overhauls His Hunting Property to Tag 185-Inch Buck

Indiana bowhunter Drew Rutledge discovered a particular buck four years ago and recognized its potential. By 2022, the buck had become a heavy 10-pointer. This hunting season, it had grown even larger.

“Over the last four years, I have amassed hundreds of photos of the deer and witnessed its continuous growth,” says the 34-year-old bowhunter from Mt. Vernon, Indiana, in an interview with Outdoor Life. “Last year, I estimated its rack to be around 165 inches. This year, it grew even more, gaining two additional points and substantial mass.”

Last year, Rutledge attempted to hunt the buck and had close encounters on eight occasions. However, he never had a clear shot. Patterning the buck was challenging due to its wide-ranging behavior and preference for appearing primarily at night.

“Of all the photos I have of the buck, 95 percent were taken at night,” he explains. “There were times when it vanished and only reappeared at night, especially during south winds. Unfortunately, this made hunting its favorite food plot on our 260-acre family land difficult.”

In response, Rutledge made changes to the property earlier this year. He modified the food plots by planting different crops and added more water sources. By late October, the buck seemed to favor the property more frequently. Rutledge captured numerous pictures of the deer, but hunting the food plot remained challenging due to the consistent south wind.

However, Rutledge finally seized an opportunity on November 17. The wind shifted to the north, and the temperature dropped significantly that afternoon. Encouraged by his friends and father, Rutledge decided to hunt the food plot.

See also  North Carolina Hunter Shoots Three-Horned 12-Point Buck

Arriving at a ground blind around 3 p.m., Rutledge patiently awaited deer activity. It wasn’t until after 4 p.m. that he spotted two does emerging from the timbered area and venturing into the bright green food plot filled with ripe radishes and turnips. More does soon followed, moving around in the timber approximately 100 yards away.

“Then, the magnificent buck appeared out of the woods at 120 yards,” Rutledge recalls. “He stood at the field’s edge for 15 minutes, observing the two does that were approaching the food plot. They were heading straight toward me, and I knew he had to brave the open field with the wind at his back to reach them.”

Bowhunter Overhauls His Hunting Property to Tag 185-Inch Buck Outdoor Life

As the does reached within 30 yards of his ground blind, the impressive 12-point buck began to move. Reluctant to expose itself in the open field with the wind blowing against it, the buck hesitated. However, it ultimately had no choice but to cross the field to reach the does, which were now only 20 yards from Rutledge.

Stopping at 40 yards, the buck presented a clear broadside shot. However, Rutledge believed it would come even closer as the does lingered near his blind. He chose to wait before drawing his bow.

“When he walked to within 25 yards, I attempted to grunt-stop him, but he didn’t hear me,” Rutledge recalls. “At full draw, I gave a louder grunt, causing him to stop, lift his head, and stretch his neck. Aware that I only had a couple of seconds to shoot, I released my arrow, hitting him directly behind the shoulder from 22 yards away.”

See also  De Hunting Season Dates Regulations and Tips

The deer only ran 50 yards before collapsing, enabling Rutledge to finally claim his prize after four long years.

“Throughout the whole journey, I always believed the buck would score around 170 inches,” Rutledge admits. “I was astonished when a knowledgeable friend of mine measured it.”

The symmetrical 12-point buck had a green gross score of 185 2/8 inches, with a net score of 175 2/8 inches. After a 60-day drying period, the buck will officially be scored and is highly likely to become a record deer for both Boone and Crocket and Pope and Young.

A taxidermist will mount the buck, placing it on a wall beside another buck Rutledge harvested a decade ago, which was taken just 100 yards from where he killed his most recent 12-point buck.

“Twelve years ago, when I shot and mounted my other buck, an 181-inch whitetail, I believed I would never encounter a bigger deer,” Rutledge reflects. “Now, I feel the same way about my 185-inch, 12-point buck. But who knows? I am still young and have many years of bowhunting ahead of me.”