DeKalb County Bow-Kill Named Hulk Finally Taken

It took several years, acquiring new property and finding the exact right wind for Josh Benton to kill this buck.

Josh Benton | December 7, 2018

My grandfather has lived on a 10-acre tract of land for the past 40 years where my father pretty much learned how to hunt. My grandfather’s family friend has owned the neighboring property for the same amount of time, and it’s 11 acres. The neighboring property to my grandfather’s friend is a 80-acre tract that we have never been able to get permission to hunt until the 2017 deer season.

My best friend Stuart Glass, who has hunted with me over the years, was able to get in touch with the landowner of the 80-acre track. They allowed us permission to hunt last year for free, but this year we picked up the lease to the property. There are four of us who went in on the lease: Stuart, Cobb, Steve and me, making the total amount of land we hunt now at 100 acres.

Over the years, I have seen giant deer on the 20-acre tract of land, but they are so smart. It’s hard to get within bow range of these deer or we pressured them over on the 80-acre track. I have seen deer over there that would score more than Hulk, well into the 180s, but they were always 80 yards or more out of range in the thick creek swamp that runs through the whole property.

No matter where you go in this creek bottom, the wind swirls because of the topography of the land. It’s big hardwoods on both sides of the property that runs down hill into a big creek bottom, much like a big V. The wind is your friend, and that is the only way to hunt these deer. All the big bucks I see over there are in high wind. They can’t smell as well in a high wind. They are more alert but move much better.

Access to stand and stand location is paramount to getting into range of an animal of this caliber. A lot of planning and research goes into hunting the way we hunt. We aren’t just your average ordinary hunters. We take pride and passion in what we love doing. The money we spend on growing these deer is crazy. We only shoot deer that are old, mature bucks. Growing a giant and then harvesting him is something we haven’t been able to do since we started trophy managing this property five years ago.

Hulk came into the picture three years ago, and he is the only buck that made my home his home. All other bucks lived on the surrounding property that we couldn’t hunt. Three years ago, my grandfather said he saw a big buck eating out of his feeder off the side of his driveway. I came over, put cameras up and started getting pictures of this 10-pointer that looked no older than 3 years old.

One evening 3 years ago, me and Stuart were riding around on the golf cart to go hunt, and we jumped him out of a kudzu patch. He ran behind my granddad’s house and straight toward the 80-acre property. I got a few more pictures of him down in the woods that year, but it was only at night. Then, he disappeared on us like a ghost. I figured we either pushed him off for good, or he got hit by a car. However, on Dec. 15, 2017, while I was hunting the newly acquired property, I saw him with a doe down in the middle of the creek at 80 yards.

We walked the property for his sheds but were unable to find them. We set up cameras on feeders and on main trails to track his movements, but he was so inconsistent with his traveling that we couldn’t pinpoint what trails he was walking regularly. The only thing that was consistent was that he was doing a circle every week. One week he would be at my granddads and the next on the far end of the 80-acre property.

I saw him two times this year while hunting. They were both in the center of the property but on both sides of the center of the creek. He just never walked close enough for a shot.  We knew or guessed he was bedding in two separate spots in the creek, one is the center of our whole property in the creek, or up a hardwood finger between a neighborhood that borders the backside of the 80-acre property.

About four weeks before i shot him, me and Stuart hung a set about 70 yards down from that hardwood finger as it comes into our property. I wasn’t even going to hunt after school on Dec. 5, but something in my gut said the wind was perfect and strong, so I should go hunt.

To my surprise, my cousin Steve was hunting the stand I was going to hunt, so I told him I was going to the new set that me and Stuart hung up instead.

I got in there at 3:30 p.m., and at 5:20 p.m., he came walking straight to me parallel with the creek. He came right out of the bedding area we thought we was bedding in between these houses. I shot him 10 minutes later at 5:30 p.m. at 41 yards. He ran straight into a tree and broke his brow tine off and then got up and ran another 4 yards in the creek and expired.

This deer is going to be aged, but we are certain by looking at the teeth that Hulk is at least 7 years old and was going down hill this year. Last year, he had 14 points and was probably pushing 170 inches. The deer did have an injury to his jaw from fighting, but it wasn’t broken.

My granddad is 87 years old and has never seen a deer of this caliber before. He helped track a buck 30 years ago over there that was bigger. My father had shot that deer as a young man, but they never recovered him unfortunately. To see my granddad hold a rack like that in awe was well worth all the time and money spent. I just wish he could have been there when I recovered him, but he was at the hospital with my grandmother.

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