Hunter – Joe Welsh
State – Kentucky
Bow – Mathews V3
Broadhead – Magnus Stinger
Kentucky bowhunter, Joe Welsh, admits that he’s obsessed with hunting whitetail deer. It’s pretty much what he thinks about all day, every day. “I killed my first deer when I was 16,” says Welsh. “There were a few years when I took a break from hunting to chase after other things and party, but then I got my life right with God and got my focus back on the things that mattered most, especially hunting.”
With decades of deer hunting under his belt, Welsh went into the 2023 season with high hopes of killing the buck of a lifetime. “I’d never seen a 200″ deer on any of my cameras until the last few years,” says Welsh. I chased a giant last year that another hunter ended up killing. It scored 239″.
The chances of back to back opportunities to hunt a 200″ deer are few and far between. But sure enough, another giant showed up on Welsh’s trail camera in July of 2023.
“I got the first photo of a buck that would be pushing 200″ back in July,” says Welsh. “It was a short-tined buck with tons of trash for antlers.”
“He showed up in July and honestly didn’t change much in antler size from then until September,” says Welsh. “We kept track of the buck and made plans to hunt him when the Kentucky bow season opened the first week of September.”
Welsh had buddies in town to hunt the deer the first week of the season. However, as the local bucks began to strip their velvet, their patterns quickly changed. The big funky buck was no longer on his normal routine. Welsh’s buddies hunted all week with no sightings of the big buck. While they hunted, Welsh was on a mission to figure out where the buck was now hanging out.
Putting additional trail cameras out, he soon learned where buck was now spending its time. The chunk of ground the buck had taken up residence on would be a really tough spot to access without busting the buck from its bed. The only access Welsh had would be a ditch that allowed him to sneak within 100 yards of what he anticipated was the buck’s bedding area.
When the wind was right, Welsh slipped down the ditch and crawled up onto the bank when he knew he was within striking distance. “I knew the buck would see me if I tried to climb a tree, so I just built a ground blind right on the edge of the ditch bank.”
Later that evening, a young buck that was often seen hanging out with the big buck came by Welsh’s hide. “The smaller buck’s body language told me the big buck wasn’t far behind,” says Welsh. “The young buck finally ran off, and I immediately heard the big buck coming through the woods.”
“I tried to draw my bow as the buck came into bow range, but due to the adrenaline and sitting Indian-style on the ground, I couldn’t get the bow drawn. I had to sky-draw to get the bow back, but when I did, my arrow made a noise that immediately caught the buck’s attention. He quickly stopped and began to stare in my direction. Fortunately, I was already at full draw and beginning to settle my pin on the buck.”
At the shot, the buck ran back the way he came from. Welsh immediately began to second guess his decisions, his shot, and whether or not he had made good on the encounter.
“I heard the buck run a short distance before he crashed several times,” says Welsh. “I was pretty confident he had run back to his bedding area and died.”
The blood trail was spotty when Welsh first began the recovery efforts. However, 50 yards down the trail, the blood began to flow and he soon discovered the buck of his dreams at the end of the trail. The buck had returned to its bed and died.
Welsh rough scored the buck at 204 inches. His local bow shop scored the buck again for entry in the shop’s big buck contest. That score came in at 196 inches. “He’s got 64 points that you can hang a ring on,” says Welsh. “He’s got 40+ points that are at least an inch, but with a lot of the velvet still hanging on, we’re still finding more points in all the trash.”
Welsh credits his decision to give this buck plenty of space as the key factor for success. “Everything had to be perfect with the wind and my approach on this buck,” says Welsh. “When the time was right, I went in and made my move.”
A big congrats to Joe Welsh on a great Kentucky buck!