Pennsylvania archer gets his dream deer

The Associated Press

KIRKWOOD — Kenny Yoder of Kirkwood feels blessed.

I would say so, since he had his bow at full draw on a big-bodied nine-point buck and then one of the largest bucks ever to be taken in archery season in Pennsylvania sauntered into view.

Yoder, the girls soccer coach at Solanco High School, swung his bow to the right and his arrow was true from 18 yards.

Now, the 40-year-old is still pinching himself at his luck. “I’m still on cloud nine, as you can imagine,” he says. “It seems too good to be true.”

The behemoth 12-pointer with unusual forked brow tines he shot on private land near Oxford, Chester County, on Sept. 29 is the subject of adulation on social media hunting sites.

“Great deer! Mass and length, he has it all,” raved one admirer on the Instagram PA–Whitetail site. A photo of the buck and Yoder, his beaming smile contrasting with the black camo stripe painted under his eyes, has 3,149 likes.

The rack was “green scored” at 173 2/8. The final score likely will have some deductions for symmetry and the antlers may shrink a little as they dry out, but the score likely will place the deer among the top 20 typical bucks ever taken with a bow in Pennsylvania.

Yoder, who has been archery hunting for 12 years, may feel blessed, but he hardly just blundered into a trophy kill.

For starters, he keeps a trail camera trained on likely deer travel spots in the woods he hunts. The bruiser buck had turned up on the camera during the summer and Yoder had been excited for months as archery season approached.

He even referred to the buck as “Dub” because of the double brow tines.

But, as an experienced archer, Yoder knew how bucks so camera-friendly all summer can disappear during hunting season or not move during the daytime. Moreover, he knew surrounding properties were being hunted hard.

On the opening morning of the statewide archery season, Yoder had to coach an away soccer game. Rushing home after the game, he donned camouflage clothes and made it into his stand about 2:35 p.m.

Around 5:30 p.m. he caught sight of a broken-rack eight pointer. But the deer moved away and didn’t respond to a grunt call.

About 15 minutes later, he saw the tops of antlers moving through the brush. When it stepped out into a clearing at 60 yards, Yoder saw that it was “Dub.”

The hunter only saw him for 5 to 10 seconds before it moved on. But at least Yoder knew the big guy was still alive. Maybe he would get a chance another day.

Another 15 minutes went by when Yoder heard a snort off to the side. He jumped slightly and was sure he had been busted and the deer was looking right at him.

But when he turned his head ever so slowly, he caught sight of a large rack moving through the brush. It was only 15 yards away. Yoder drew his bow, waiting for the buck to step into a clearing.

Just then, he detected more movement to his right. He shifted his eyes and there was the 12-pointer at 18 yards. There was little time to dwell. He swung slightly, centered the pin on the buck’s vitals and let the arrow go.

He heard a thump from the arrow striking home and the buck tore out of the woods into a field.

He climbed down from his stand and looked for his arrow or blood. None. He then forced himself to go back to his truck and wait. No sense risking pushing the deer if it was down.

He summoned family members and friends to the scene. They began a search, quickly found a blood trail and followed it to the dead deer, about 50 yards from where it had been shot.

“That’s what made this night so special — a lot of these people who I have special hunting memories with were all there,” Yoder recalls.

The hunter, who had remained calm up until then, got a delayed case of “buck fever” and even had to sit down when his knees began to shake.

Yoder knew he was lucky. He also knew he had worked hard for the chance.

“I knew he was there. I did my homework. I was in there early clearing shooting lanes. When it finally lines up, even down to the buck I wanted, it just feels so good to be able to do that.”

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