Two 150-Class Bucks For 2001 Season

Two bucks tied as the second-best bow-kills in Georgia last season, but other than their net scores, these bucks and the circumstances have little in common.

Steve Ruckel | September 1, 2002

Most bowhunters relish the thought of downing a record-book whitetail. But, as any deer hunter will attest, it’s not an easy feat to accomplish. Prior to last hunting season a total of 295 Georgia bow-bucks had met the minimum 125 score for inclusion in the Pope and Young (P&Y) record book.

Of those, only nine had antlers that netted 150 inches or better. In 2001 not only were another 41 bucks added to that elite P&Y list, shattering the Georgia season record of 32 P&Y bucks in 1996, but also three monsters exceeded the magical 150 mark. Up until the Atlanta Buckarama last month, it was thought that two bucks that scored 150 2/8 had tied as the No. 1 P&Y bucks from Georgia last season.

However, a DeKalb County 8-pointer showed up at the Buckarama to be officially scored, and when the measurements were tallied the buck netted 161 0/8, easily the best bow-buck of the season and the second-best typical buck with a bow of all-time from Georgia. The story of that buck can be found on page 16.

Here are the stories of Georgia’s second-best bow-bucks from last season, tied at No. 2 with scores of 150 2/8.

The Calhoun Buck

Stars were still twinkling when Shane Calhoun stepped out of his house in Worth County to check the weather. The night-freshened air was stirring slightly and in a perfect direction. Even though it was November 6 and the Georgia firearms deer season was open, Shane grabbed his compound bow instead of a rifle. “I don’t bow hunt much during the bow season,” the 34-year-old farmer said. “I try to go after the big bucks during the rut and when I can catch the wind right for the stand I   want to hunt.”

Shane’s buck is an exceptional main-frame 8-pointer with one sticker point on its left brow tine.

Within 20 minutes, Shane had parked his truck on a large tract of land in the northern part of the county where he has hunted since he was a boy. He walked briskly toward a finger of hardwoods where earlier scouting trips had revealed a number of fresh rubs and scrapes. His stand was a large wooden platform built in a cedar tree between the hardwoods and an extensive stand of open, mature pines. A few hundred yards beyond the pines was a large food plot planted in corn. Shane figured the deer were feeding in the corn field at night then heading back to the hardwood area and some thick bedding cover behind his stand after daybreak.

“I had been seeing a good-sized 10-pointer in this area, but he had never come close enough for a shot,” he recalled. “I believe he was a Pope and Young class deer.”

Few would question his assessment of the buck’s size. After taking his first buck at age nine, Shane has seen and taken his share of big bucks in this southwest Georgia county long known for its trophy whitetails. Shane’s hunting accomplishments include an 8-pointer that measured 152 Boone and Crockett (B&C) points, a 153 B&C 11-pointer that grossed over 170, and a non-typical 17-pointer in 1985 that made the all-time Boone and Crockett record book at 195 4/8. All were taken with a firearm. In his 15 years of bowhunting he has three decent bucks to his credit but yearned to arrow a real wallhanger.

It was still dark when Shane climbed into his stand. The long-sleeved camp shirt he wore was all he needed to keep the chill away.

He had hardly settled when he heard something rustling the leaves in the hardwoods behind him. Strain as he might, Shane could not see what was making the noise. It was nearly 20 minutes before the glow in the eastern sky finally illuminated the antlers of a buck ambling out into the open pines about 100 yards away. Gradually, he moved closer and Shane was able to count 10 points and estimated the antler spread at about 17 inches. Most likely, it was the buck he had been seeing.

“I made up my mind to take him as soon as I could get a clear shot,” he said.

Shane gripped the bow and shifted his body in preparation for the shot as the buck sauntered to within 20 yards. All of a sudden the 10-pointer snapped to attention and the hair bristled up on his back as he stared intently out into the open pines. Shane suspected it was another buck that had garnered this sudden attention, but he couldn’t see it from his vantage point.

“He raised his hair, wheezed and started attacking a tree with his horns,” Shane said. “Then, a few seconds later, he turned and ran off.”

Shane swiveled his head in the direction the buck had been looking and, as if by magic, a much larger buck appeared about 70 yards out.

“You could tell he was way bigger than the 10-pointer even before he got out in the clear,” Shane recalled. “The mass of his antlers really stood out! He was moving toward where the 10- pointer had been, walking stiff-legged with his hair all fluffed out in a threatening posture, sort of like a big bull.”

The big buck was walking quickly. Every muscle taut with anticipation, Shane waited, hoping for a standing shot, as the massive whitetail  approached. Crossing from right to left, the buck never slowed and abruptly started angling away. Instinctively, Shane knew this was probably going to be his best shot, so he drew, led the moving animal slightly and released. He later confirmed the distance was 27 yards.

The buck jumped, ran about 30 yards and inexplicably stopped. He stood looking back behind him for a second, then turned and ran off out of sight.

“I stayed in the stand about 10 minutes, then got down and went to the spot where he was when I shot,” Shane said. “I found my arrow covered in blood, and there was plenty of blood on the leaves. But the way he acted, I knew I needed to give him some time, so I sneaked out of the woods and went back to the house to get my trail dog.”

An hour later he and his mixed hound were on the trail. What Shane anticipated would be a relatively easy task turned into quite an ordeal. The seriously wounded buck, alternately walking steadily and stopping to lay down, led them on a circular route that eventually ended nearly three hours later and only 400 yards from Shane’s stand. There in the open pines lay a huge 9-pointer that, up close, looked even more massive than he originally thought.

“I’ve trailed a lot of wounded deer, and usually if they go that far, they’re going to get away,” Shane noted. “At one point, my dog even quit trailing and lay down in a puddle of water.” Drenched with sweat, Shane sat down and closely inspected the deer. The arrow had angled through the swollen neck of the 235-lb. buck and apparently had just nicked a major blood vessel. Holding the massive beams with both hands, Shane knew this deer would far surpass the P&Y minimum. With an inside spread of nearly 17 inches, main beams well over 26 inches, evenly matched points and tremendous mass (circumferences of the bases were over five inches!) the buck was scored after the mandatory 60-day drying period at 154 7/8 (gross). Subtracting deductions for symmetry and one abnormal point, the final score was 150 2/8. Shane’s buck is currently the largest archery buck ever recorded in Worth County. It ranks in a tie at No. 10 on Georgia’s all-time P&Y list.

The Polsean Buck

When 48-year-old construction worker Rick Polsean left Iowa 15 years ago and settled in Kennesaw, many people would have bet that his odds of killing a big buck decreased considerably.  It’s not that Georgia doesn’t produce its share of high-quality bucks; it’s just that Iowa in recent years has been considered one of the premier trophy whitetail areas in North America. But the 11-pointer that walked in front of Rick’s Fulton County stand in early October last season quickly made him forget about Iowa!

Rick’s hunting experience dates back to when, as a 7-yearold, he arrowed a quail with his home-made bow. A farming accident when he was young left him with an artificial leg, but that has hardly slowed him down. Since then, the number of deer that have fallen to his gun and bow has reached into triple digits. His best buck prior to last season was a 132 B&C Iowa whitetail taken with a shotgun.

Rick’s Fulton County 11-pointer was killed on a 30-acre tract in south Fulton County that was bordered on three sides by subdivisions. When he released his arrow at this giant, two other big bucks were in bow range.

Andy Webb, one of Rick’s hunting buddies, had permission to hunt on a 30-acre tract of land near Union City southwest of Atlanta and invited Rick to go with him. Bordered on three sides by subdivisions, the land was like many small, undeveloped properties in the metro-Atlanta area — plenty of deer with very little hunting pressure. Two hay fields separated by mature hardwoods lay like giant puzzle pieces on the rolling landscape and provided opportunities for pre-season scouting as well as focal points for hunting later on.

It was the pre-season scouting that had the two bowhunters excited. Andy had seen six bucks feeding together in one of the fields prior to bow season, and he estimated that all six would qualify for the P&Y record book.

The night of October 5 found a front moving through north Georgia and, along with it, wind and heavy rain. Rick and Andy had planned to be in their stands before daylight the next morning, but the weather had put a damper on their enthusiasm for the hunt. They wrestled with the decision on whether to go or not, but in the end opted to give it a shot.

By the time they turned the pickup onto the property, the rain had stopped. Thinking that Mother Nature was giving them a break, both hunters hurried to their stands. It was still dark when Rick attached his climbing stand, made his way up the tree about 20 feet and pulled his compound bow  up from below. From this vantage point 40 yards back in the hardwoods, Rick would be able to see through the open woods out into the hay field in front of him. Andy’s stand was about 200 yards away at the far end of the field.

A few minutes later Rick realized that the lull was only Mother Nature’s idea of a cruel joke when the rain began pouring down again and the wind began whipping the tree in which he was perched. He quickly donned his rain suit, determined to stick it out.

In spite of the horrible weather, the morning turned out to be quite successful. By mid-morning Rick had seen 21 deer (five of which were bucks) and had managed to arrow a doe. Andy had seen two bucks.

“My rain suit probably cost me a chance at a couple more deer,” Rick said. “It made a noise when I drew back and would spook the deer before I could release.”

The two hunters drove the 45 miles back home, put Rick’s doe in a cooler, ate some lunch and rested. By afternoon the rain had stopped and the wind had subsided. Encouraged by improving weather conditions and the  number of deer they had seen that morning, Rick and Andy were back in their stands by around 5 p.m.

“I had been sitting there for about 15 minutes,” Rick recalled, “when all of a sudden I saw some movement on the edge of the trees that separate the two fields. The first deer I saw had a big set of antlers, but the second deer was even bigger. They came up to the edge of the woods and were broadside about 35 yards away. But there was a dogwood tree in the way, and I couldn’t shoot.”

The smaller buck turned and stayed out in the field, but the bigger one gradually moved into the woods toward Rick and stopped a few steps closer. As luck would have it, the dogwood still prevented a clear shot. The big buck then turned around and started to walk back into the field.

“There was a small opening to shoot through about 40 yards away,” Rick said. “I drew the bow back, but the buck was through the opening before I could get a good shot. I looked ahead to try to find another opening, and it looked like the only chance of a shot was going to be when the buck got out into the field about 55 yards away.”

While Rick was pondering all the possibilities, movement again caught his eye and a third buck walked into the small opening.

“I was still holding the bow at full draw,” Rick said, “and when he stepped into that spot, I let the arrow go. I don’t know if he was the biggest one of the three or not. I do know that he was bigger than the first one, but he and the second one were really close in size.”

Because the buck was quartering away and walking fast, the arrow hit the hind quarter and angled forward into the body cavity, instead of right behind the shoulder as Rick had planned.

“He took off running like a jet,” Rick recalled, “and so did the other two bucks. One of them cut up the hill, and the other two ran across the field right toward Andy. I decided to sit in the tree until 6:30 and then get down. But, about 6:10, Andy came running across the field, so I figured I must have got him.”

Out of breath from the sprint, Andy yelled up to Rick, “What are you doing in that tree? Get down! Don’t you know what you killed?” Winning the prize for understatement of the day, Rick replied, “Well, he looked pretty big.”

As the two hunting buddies tromped across the hay field to retrieve the buck, Andy told Rick what had happened. As Rick suspected, two of the bucks ran straight toward Andy, who promptly drew on the first one as it stood about 20 yards out. He then saw the bigger one (Rick’s deer) and turned to shoot it just as it fell over dead in front of him. In the meantime, the other buck decided it was time to go and high-tailed it across the field before Andy could get a shot.

Rick’s buck had 10 evenly matched points and one abnormal point. A 17 2/8-inch inside spread, beams more than 23 inches long and good mass all contributed to a gross score of 156 3/8 P&Y following the mandatory 60-day drying period. After deductions, the net score was 150 2/8, tying it with Shane Calhoun’s Worth County bow kill for second-best in the state for the 2001 hunting season and No. 10 on the all-time Georgia P&Y list. Rick’s buck is the fourth best buck ever taken in Fulton County by any weapon, and becomes the second-best bow-buck ever taken there.

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