Will Kochevar knew the buck was using the small tract of woods after seeing it on his game cameras last summer, a monster deer bigger than anything he’d ever seen.
On Alabama’s opening day of bow season last Oct. 15, Kochevar was in a stand on the travel route between the buck’s bedding area and a big soybean field. For months, according to the game camera photos, this big deer had been traveling virtually the same route to access the field. The scouting, stand placement and shooting practice had been completed. Now, it was up to Kochevar.
The big buck came out of the woods that evening, opening day, when Alabama hunters sweat in the heat but can’t help getting into a stand. Kochevar could only watch quietly as the buck milled about, feeding, before leaving. He was too far away for Kochevar to take a shot.
“I went out to scout one of our fields in mid- to late-July and saw him for the first time,” said Kochevar, a 20-year old student at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. “He was about 200 yards away and I watched him for a while with my binocular. I couldn’t believe how big he was.
“I told my dad and brother about him and said he had 17 or 18 points, something like that, and was gigantic. They didn’t believe me. So I got my game camera out there and got photos of him. He took the same path all the time, from overgrown woods through a patch of thin woods and into the bean field. I got him on the camera doing the same thing every time.”
Alabama’s opening day for the 2013-14 season was on a Tuesday, and Kochevar didn’t return to his stand for the next week. Despite having a weekend to hunt, he didn’t believe conditions were right and didn’t want to possibly mess up the opportunity for the big buck.
On the eighth day of the season, Kochevar slipped back to his stand for an evening hunt. A slow-moving front produced cloudy conditions that day and some light rain in the afternoon, just enough to get everything wet and, presumably, keep the deer bedded down until evening. Sunset wasn’t until a little after 7 p.m., too, so Kochevar had enough time for a few hours before it got too dark to see.
“We have a couple of other big deer on property but they never showed themselves like this one,” Kochevar said. “They’d come through and then disappear. But this buck took the same path, at the same times, and with the same routine. It was like he owned the place.
“That (second) evening hunt, he came out after it stopped raining and was just sprinkling a little bit, probably about 6 p.m. I heard him and then saw him coming through the (thin) woods to the bean field, and I probably could have had a better shot when he came out of the bedding area but I couldn’t take it.
“He came right in front of me and I had a tree between me and him, so I couldn’t get the shot. He was about 15 yards away from me. I made a little noise when he got on the other side of the tree and got him to stop, and then took the shot.”
Kochevar had a good feeling about the evening. After getting in the stand he had a spike and 6-point come within shooting range, but watched as they fed in the beans and moved on. Then the big buck came in right on time, all alone, just as he had on the game camera photos.
After the shot, the buck ran along the edge of the bean field and then back into the woods. Kochevar found him piled up about 60 or so yards away from his stand.
Not bad for his first buck with a bow, eh? Kochevar has been hunting for four years and killed one other buck before this dandy. This was not only his first buck with a bow, but the first deer he ever shot at with a bow. He was using an APA Archery bow, Carbon Express Mayhem arrows and NAP Killzone broadheads. His practice and confidence, not to mention scouting, obviously paid off.
Kochevar’s buck was a giant for the north Alabama county where he lives. The deer weighed about 175 pounds and sported 18 points, with a green score of 174. He plans to have it officially scored and mounted.
“When we get it (officially) scored, one of the points may not count but I’m not sure,” he said. “It’s just a great buck with a ton of mass. I was shocked when I first saw it and I couldn’t believe it. I’m still shocked.”
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