NAME: James R. Cornelius IV (J.R.)
SADDLE GEAR: Phantom saddle, Predator XL platform, Gen 1 One sticks
This story really starts on July 7, 2022, with me placing a cell camera in a small field on the top of a hill in the middle of an 800-acre tract of public land here in Kentucky. On July 22, 2022, at 6:19 am I received a pic of what appeared to be a monster of a buck looking straight at the camera, but it only had half of his head in the pic. One minute later another pic came in with him totally in frame. This picture gave me a side view of his rack. The first thing I noticed was his stickers at the base of his rack. From the side view they looked like the eye guards of an elk. I decided to name him “Wapiti” which is Native American for elk since he reminded me of an elk. Those were the only two pics I got of him.
In the middle of August, I started wondering why he was on the top of the hill that morning and not any other day. Maybe a coyote or something had made him change his normal travel route. Anyhow, I felt I could conclude that he was probably still heading back to his normal summer bedding area since that was 6:20 am. The spot he was headed to in the pic was the north side of that big hill. The north side would have been shaded all or most day providing a cool place to escape the summer heat. So, I started looking at OnX to try to figure how he would leave the side of that hill. I picked out a few spots to start trying when the season opened but I did not go check them out on foot because I was scared that I would bump him out of the area permanently.
Well September 3rd opening day of Kentucky Deer Archery rolled around. My good friend Jacob Robinson had come down from Indiana to hunt the opening week with me. From Sept. 3rd to the 8th, I concentrated on trying to help Jacob get his first KY public land buck. After he shot his buck, I told him “Now since you got yours, tomorrow I will go after my buck!” My plan was to go do an evening hunt at one of the spots I thought Wapiti would leave his bedding area. The west side of the hill had two fields with a 40-yard-wide strip separating the fields and that strip connected Wapiti’s bedding area to another lot of woods. He could go from one set of woods to another without going across the field. So, I figured that strip of woods would be the ticket for catching him leaving his bedding area.
The next day Sept. 9th Jacob and I arrived at the WMA around 3 pm and made our way to the strip of woods. Upon arriving at the strip of woods I set up on the end closest to Wapiti’s bedding area. Jacob went and set up on the opposite side of the field about 100 yards away. I set up in a tree on the edge of the field. I set up facing the field, but I knew that because I was in a saddle I could still swing around to the 6 o’clock position and shoot anything coming through the strip of woods. The action began around 6:40 pm as a few doe started feeding in the field near Jacob and a doe came from Wapiti’s bedding area and started eating acorns out from under an oak tree about 30 yards from. She ended up going back to the bedding area. At about 6:50 pm a group of 3 doe came down through the strip from the opposite end to about the 7 o’clock position and they must have gotten a slight smell of me and snorted once and trotted
off across the private field on the other side of the strip. I figured since she only snorted once the hunt was not ruined, and I still had time since sunset was at 7:54 p.m. and last shooting light
would be 8:24 pm.
Right after sunset at about 7:45 three doe filtered into the field from the direction of Wapiti’s bedding area. Light was quickly diminishing, and I started contemplating shooting an old grey doe that was slowly working her way down the edge of the field towards me. I then started hearing a deer rooting under the acorn tree where the doe had been earlier. I could hear it but could not see it because of the foliage. I turned my attention back to the doe for a minute then started noticing the sound of the rooting deer was getting closer, so I turned to look for it again. This is when I saw his long tines. I immediately repositioned myself to shoot the 6 o’clock position. My shot was still obscured by the ground foliage. So, I waited as he slowly made his way to an opening. As he was stepping into the opening I slowly drew back and placed my 20-yard pin right behind his shoulder and squeezed the trigger on my release. The arrow buried into him, and he bolted running the same direction he was already headed. He sounded like he was breaking down every tree as he crashed through the woods. I could not see him crash because of the early season under growth but I could clearly hear that he had crashed to a stop at around 50 to 60 yards from me. By the time I got down out of the tree and Jacob made it to me it was a little past the last shooting light. We broke out the flashlights and easily followed the blood trail
to my biggest buck to date. I believe my Phantom saddle, predator xl and 4 one sticks gave me the advantage of being able to hike into the middle of this property carrying minimal weight and allowed me to be able to shoot behind me! His gross is 165 6/8”. He was a basic 10 pt with 6 non-typical points around the base of his antlers. His Buckmasters total antler inches 150 0/8. Because his non-typical points totaled only 14 7/8” he missed scoring as a non-typical by 1/8” but still made Pope & Young net as typical 130 7/8. The full video of the hunt is on my YouTube Channel Genesis 27:3 Outdoors!