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Big Buck Profile: The Velvet Giant

By Josh HoneycuttAugust 5, 2022

Buck: 188 3/8 inches

Date of Harvest: September 4, 2021

Location of Harvest: Kentucky

Weapon of Harvest: Hoyt REDWRX Carbon RX-1

Mike Campbell started getting photos of a giant 3 ½-year-old deer in 2020. He gave it a pass that season, but that wasn’t happening in 2021. Once it reached 4 ½, it was all green lights.

Big Buck Profile: The Velvet Giant
Mike Campbell shows off his 188 3/8-inch Kentucky buck.

“I did not put any trail cameras out until July,” Campbell said. “On July 13, 2021, I captured this deer on camera for the first time since 2020. It took a bit to figure out which deer it was because he added over 40 inches, but his left G2 gave it away. I moved one of my cameras back to the same location I saw him in August 2020 and immediately started capturing him on camera daily.”

Having bought the farm in 2008, Campbell knew the area well enough to draw up a solid game plan on this buck. September 4th marked opening day and brought the tail end of Hurricane Ida with it. Fortunately, the remnants of the storm pushed out in time for the afternoon hunt. Still, it was warm with winds blowing 7-8 mph. It was still partly cloudy, and the barometric pressure was over 30.

Ready to hunt the giant buck, Campbell drove to the farm, sat down on his tailgate, and got ready for the hunt. While prepping his gear, he couldn’t help but take in the smell of the warm, damp soil that was saturated from the recent heavy rainfall. He listened to the wind rustling the leaves, and the occasional squirrel dropping hulls from the treetops. As he finally finished prepping, and started his approach, crows cackled overhead, and squirrels barked in protest. He enjoyed the walk and felt confident he might have an encounter with the big buck.

“My access to this food plot and stand is unique,” Campbell said. “I park my truck right off the county road. I take an access road hidden by thick cover and corn fields all the way to a seasonal creek, jump into the creek, remain hidden, and go almost directly to my stand.”

Once at his hunting spot, he ascended the tree and settled in. It overlooks a food plot he cleared out in 2015, which is about 2 acres. “My farm has drastic elevation changes from bottom ground to ridge tops,” Campbell said. “Most early season deer bed on the side of these ridges and funnel down to low ground in the evenings to feed. This stand was placed at the mouth of three converging ridges and bedding areas from the north, east, and south.”

He hoped the deer would stick to its routine. It’d been showing between 7 and 7:30 p.m. almost every day for the past month. Still, things remained quiet. Deer didn’t seem to be moving early.

Around 5:50 p.m., he received a work call he had to take, spoke as quietly as he could, and then refocused on the hunt. “Afterwards, I was uneasy,” Campbell said. “Did I talk too loud? Was my buck bedded close enough that he heard me?”

Big Buck Profile: The Velvet Giant
Campbell arrowed this deer on September 4, 2021, which was opening day.

Fortunately, about 10 minutes later, deer started moving. A small 8-pointer entered the plot and started feeding. He got comfortable, and the flood gates opened. Three does, two small bucks, and then nine more does followed suit. They milled around, and Campbell enjoyed observing all the deer behavior.

Around sunset, he noticed movement to his left, and slowly turned his head toward it. “I glanced with my naked eye and couldn’t see anything,” Campbell said. “I put my binos up and couldn’t see anything. I caught more movement strait in front of me at 50 yards in the thicket, and this time, I knew what it was. There’s no mistaking a mature deer. It was him.”

Three minutes later, the buck walked into the open. It slowly walked to the middle of the plot and spent several minutes out of range. The huge buck circled back toward Campbell. By this point, he was losing light, and time was running out.

Unfortunately, there were about 20 deer in the plot, and getting the bow drawn back was no easy task. Still, he was able to get drawn without being seen. The buck turned broadside, and Campbell released the arrow. It flew true and impacted straight through the vitals.

“My green Lumenok buried, but didn’t get full penetration, and I lost sight of it as he ran out of the field,” Campbell said. “I heard a crash about 45 seconds later. I immediately called my dad and texted several friends about my hunt.”

He carefully gathered his gear, climbed down, and met his hunting buddy, Kyle Kirby, back at the truck. After a while, they returned to the sight of impact, and started blood trailing the deer. After going about 70 yards, they recovered the buck in some bedding cover. Campbell and Kirby celebrated with a few hoots, hollers, and high fives.

“This is my best-scoring buck,” Campbell said. “I think I put more work into this deer than I have for any other deer I have harvested. This deer means the world to me. I put in tons of time, thought, money, and effort into deer hunting. To see the rewards from it, I can’t even put it into words. It’s an indescribable feeling.”

Big Buck Profile: The Velvet Giant
It’s always a great sight to see a rack like that in the back of your truck.

After getting the buck out of the woods, they went back to hunting camp where others were waiting to see the buck. They celebrated and enjoyed the moment.

“Deer hunting is my mental therapy,” Campbell said. “Only deer hunters know the feeling one gets when watching the sun come up, seeing the sun set, [and] feeling that rush when you hear or see a deer.”

He says feeling that rush after letting an arrow or a bullet fly, feeling the sense of accomplishment, and sharing it with loved ones, is what it’s all about. This time, 188 3/8 inches of velvet-clad bone came with it.

Josh Honeycutt
Josh Honeycutt is an avid deer hunter. He's hunted whitetails from South Carolina to South Dakota but spends most of his time hunting in Kentucky. Honeycutt has written and created other forms of media for more than 60 media companies in the outdoor industry, including: North American Whitetail, Whitetail Journal, Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Deer & Deer Hunting, Rack Magazine, Inside Archery, Game & Fish, Fur-Fish-Game, and others. He's also very active in digital content, specializing in writing, editing, photography, videography, podcasting, and more. You can see how his deer season unfolds each year on Midwest Whitetail and Chasing November.
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