One Hunter, Two P&Y Bucks In Two Days

John N. Felsher | September 19, 2021

Most sportsmen wait months for hunting season to open, anticipating many days afield in pursuit of their passion. For one Georgia man, his buck hunting ended on opening weekend.

On consecutive days, Jake Wesley, an air traffic controller from Locust Grove, arrowed his allotted two-buck season limit while hunting in DeKalb County. Both bucks will easily make the P&Y record book.

When the Georgia bow season opened on Saturday, Sept. 11, Jake hunted in the afternoon rather than at first light. He had recently gained access to a new hunting property and only had a week to scout it.

“My friend used to hunt that property, but he’s not able to hunt it this year,” Jake said. “He introduced me to the landowner, who gave me permission to hunt it. I went out about a week before the season, made a mock scrape and hung a camera. The big buck came out that evening hitting the mock scrape. He came out four or five times a night all the way to the opener. Every evening he was out there between 6:40 p.m. and 8 p.m.”

With the deer patterned by the camera, Jake devised a plan to hunt an oak ridge near where he thought the buck usually bedded. On opening afternoon, he headed out with his bow in hand. The wind blew in a contrary direction where Jake wanted to put his tree stand, but he tried anyway.

“I try to set up as close to the bedding area as I can without getting too close,” he said.

When Jake reached the area he wanted to hunt, the wind wasn’t exactly ideal for his setup. He made some quick stand adjustments and got settled in. It wasn’t very long before the buck showed.

“He came from the opposite direction on a ridge than I thought he would,” said Jake. “I thought he was on the other side of the ridge down in the creek bottom, but he bedded down in a 1-acre super thick parcel. I actually walked right past him to get to my stand.”

The deer came out behind and to Jake’s right. Then, it walked past the hunter. Jake waited for the right shot. With the deer going to the mock scrape he created about 30 yards from his stand, the archer released his arrow at about 6:45 p.m., scoring a lethal hit.

“I was a little worried because he ran up a hill,” Jake said. “Typically, a wounded deer will run downhill. I saw him go over the top of the ridge about 100 yards away. He was walking slow and flicking his tail, so I knew it was a pretty good shot. When I got to the ridge where I saw him from the stand, there was a lot of blood. I thought, ‘I have plenty of daylight. I’ll go back to the truck and give him an hour or two. Then, I’ll come back out.’ When I was walking down the hill toward the truck, I looked back over on the side of the hill and could see him lying there.”

The typical 10-pointer weighed 195 pounds. Before any deer can be officially scored, it must go through a mandatory 60-day drying process in accordance with P&Y rules. The buck would likely score somewhere in the high 140s to low 150s.

“The only measurement I got off of him were his G3s, and they were 11.5 inches long,” Jake said. “I saw very few deductions in any type of scoring.”

Jake with his first Pope and Young buck taken on opening-day afternoon.

On the second day of the season, Sunday, Sept. 12, Jake hunted another property about 4 miles from where he arrowed the first buck. Both properties look similar with oak trees and ridges. However, this second tract contains an area about 5 acres in size that had been cleared years ago. It’s surrounded by 700 acres of hardwood forests. The clearing grew up with thickets, perfect deer bedding cover.

“This is my fourth year to hunt that spot,” Jake said. “I’ve taken a good deer out of there three of the past four years. That 5-acre spot looks like someone wanted to put in a neighborhood years ago, but just never did. It’s thick and nasty in there, but it opens up into the most beautiful white oak bottom that anyone can expect to find in central Georgia. Deer love to bed in that 5-acre section and just trickle out to eat acorns, grapes and whatever else they can find. They don’t have to travel far.”

Jake originally identified a good buck during the 2020-21 season, but didn’t shoot at it. He reasoned the deer had potential to grow into a record book-class animal. In July 2021, Jake put a camera near where the buck lived. When the big buck showed up, it appeared to prove Jake’s growth predictions. On the second day of the season, Jake again chose to hunt in the afternoon.

“Every day, he came in at the same time in the evening,” Jake said. “The buck was coming from exactly where he came last year, so I had a pretty good idea about his travels. Another guy found out about this deer and got permission to hunt another spot close to where I was, so I knew I was going to have some pressure. I moved my setup to get a little get closer to the trail that the buck was using frequently. I knew that if the wind was right and the other hunter didn’t get him, that I would have a very good chance at him.”

On that Sunday afternoon, wind forced Jake to find another tree for his stand. Once in the stand, he spotted four smaller bucks eating acorns and muscadines behind him. He did not want to shoot them.

“The tree wasn’t optimal because the wind wasn’t how I wanted it,” Jake said. “I thought the big buck was going to show up and I wouldn’t be ready for him. I waited until all those other deer were looking in the opposite direction and stood up. When I stood up, I heard blowing off to my left, which is exactly where I thought the big buck would appear. I spotted him run off on top of a ridge about 80 to 100 yards away just blowing and stomping. The other four bucks took off.”

Thinking the big buck spotted him and disappeared, Jake thought the hunt had ended right then. However, he waited a while to see what would happen. The big bruiser didn’t run off but stayed in the area stomping around about 100 yards away. Then, Jake heard something coming from behind him.

“A doe just trickled past me,” he said. “I had earlier put out an Attrax mineral block, and she loved it. She went toward it and began feeding. The big buck saw her. That must have calmed him down a little because he started walking back my way. At about 60 yards, he put his head behind a big pine, so I drew my bow.”

The buck never came out in the clear. For several minutes, the big buck kept blowing from behind that tree and then went back up the hill. By this time, another doe came out from where the first doe emerged.

“The big buck saw the doe and probably thought that’s what may have spooked him earlier,” Jake said. “He was just real antsy. When she walked out into the open, the buck could see it was another deer and he just committed. He came right down following her and stopped about 45 yards out. He knew something wasn’t right and stood there 10 to 15 minutes.”

Jake usually carries a rangefinder but didn’t this day. He estimated the range and figured he would probably not get another opportunity this afternoon. With a 45-yard sight pin on his bow, he took the shot.

“The big buck stood there watching those two does and not looking at me, so I drew, put the pin behind his shoulder and let it go at about 7:05 p.m.,” Jake said. “It hit exactly where I was aiming.”

He found the deer about 80 yards away. It had apparently tried to leap over a brushpile but caught its antlers in a vine. Jake found the dead buck positioned upside down on the pile with its beautiful rack entangled in the vine.

“In the early season, I don’t like to shoot a deer and just let it lay there for hours because it’s so hot in Georgia at that time,” Jake said. “I’ll wait about 30 to 40 minutes, and then just sneak down the trail. If I need to put another arrow in him, I’m always ready to do it.”

Nearly identical to the first deer, this typical 10-pointer had a main beam slightly smaller than the first one. Also, his G2s were smaller than his G3s. The buck will likely score in the mid 130s to low 140s after the mandatory drying period.

For both kills, Jake used a 2013 Bear Motive 7 bow with Easton Bloodsport arrows tipped with NAP Sling Blade broadheads.

Jake’s second record-book buck tags him out for the season, but what a way to end it.

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