At 28, Landon Kirby is an experienced hunter with several good bucks to his credit (including his first buck, a 150-class deer he tagged at age 12).
“I have some small leases for deer hunting, mostly near where I live [outside] of Cincinnati,” the nurse and father of two tells Outdoor Life. “I’ve got eight bucks on my walls, but nothing like the buck I got the evening of Oct. 7.”
Kirby runs cell cameras to keep tabs on what’s happening at his farmland hunting spots.
“I have a camera on a small 75-acre farm, and I’d been monitoring the place since July,” he says. “I had photos of other bucks there but the evening of Oct. 6, a giant buck showed up that I’d never seen. I decided I’d try to get him the next evening.”
Kirby contacted his buddy Chris Wheeler, who agreed to accompany Kirby to film his hunt. Kirby climbed into his lock-on stand around 3:30 p.m. while Wheeler settled into a saddle to film. Kirby had never hunted the spot until that evening, but he was optimistic.
“The treestand is in a funnel linking two larger hardwood timber areas,” Kirby says. “On either side of the funnel are uncut soybeans. It’s a natural travel and feeding corridor.”
The two sat for about an hour before they spotted an eight-point feeding in the beans. It looked about 140 inches and it never presented a shot, though Kirby wasn’t hoping for one.
“I never would have taken the 140-incher that evening, knowing a much larger buck was around,” Kirby says.
At 5 p.m. that big buck stepped into the bean field at 70 yards. Kirby couldn’t see the buck well through the leaves between them. But Wheeler, hanging in the tree above Kirby, could see the buck just fine. He filmed it feeding and eventually disappearing into cover. That’s when does began pouring into the field.
“Does were everywhere, 15 to 20 of them,” Kirby says. “We had five does close within bow range, and a pair of small bucks were butting heads right in front of us.”
Just before dark Wheeler saw the 15-pointer reappear at 70 yards, this time heading toward the hunters.
Right then one of the does in front of their stand started blowing. That got the buck’s attention. He stopped, watching the alert doe. The buck was inside 30 yards now, standing broadside.
“I only saw the buck for about 30 seconds headed toward us before I drew and shot,” says Kirby. “He covered 70 yards fast, and I didn’t have time to get nervous or start shaking. … After the shot I saw him run, I noticed his front legs buckled, and a few seconds later I thought I heard him fall in the timber. That’s when I just lost my mind.”
Kirby and Wheeler were pumped, and they contacted friends and family while they waited 30 minutes before climbing down. They found blood at the hit site, and a good trail leading into the woods.
“We were right on the [field] edge looking at the blood trail, and Chris said he thought he saw a deer laying just inside the timber,” Kirby says. “I told him no way, that’s just a stump. But it was my dead buck. … The deer only ran 20 yards. It’s the shortest distance I’ve ever had to track a deer I shot by bow.”
The hunters were able to drive a truck through the farm and near the buck, which they loaded and drove to a processor. There it was skinned and caped.
The buck has 15 scorable points, says Kirby, with an inside spread of 21 4/8 inches. It has a green gross score measurement of 172 inches. Its G2s each measure 7 6/8 inches, and one G3 measures 8 4/8 inches. Kirby says other bucks on the farm have similar rack configurations.
Wheeler has some good video footage from the hunt, which he’ll post to his YouTube channel WheelsUp Outdoors soon.
Kirby’s hunting season is just beginning, he says, with trips planned to other states further south. And he’s not done deer hunting in Ohio, either.
“I don’t think I’ll do much better than my 15-pointer, but there are plenty of does around,” he says. “They’re good meat for the freezer.”