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John Bradley's #1 Bow buck scores 149!

John Bradley of Vero Beach, Florida used his Onieda Eagle compound recurve bow and an Easton aluminum arrow to take the #1 archery buck killed during the 2010-11 season.

The 53-year-old hunter arrowed the #4 highest-scoring buck taken in Florida last season while hunting on private land in Indian River County.

The buck weighed over 200 lbs. and was taken with a bow that John says is at least 20 years old. He used a 100-grain NAP Spitfire expandable broadhead.

“I’ve been hunting deer for about 40 years. My family leases the property in Indian River County, and we’ve had it for over 30 year with a cow/calf operation of 200 head of cattle.

The land is made up of about 800 acres of old grove beds, 600 acres of old tomato fields and 1,200 acres of old pine flatwoods, scrub and palmettos, John said. “I hunted the evening of Sept. 19, 2010, and everything worked in my favor, especially the wind.

“Sitting in a 15-foot ladder stand overlooking a mix of small myrtles and pines, I could see about 400 yards to my left and about 50 yards to my right. I got in my stand about 4 p.m., and it wasn’t long before a doe was running around about 300 yards out to my left with a small 8-point chasing her around.

“I watched this for over 30 minutes before a small 6-point came out of nowhere at 10 yards and disappeared. Things were looking pretty good! A few minutes later, the 8-point and doe ran out of view, and I didn’t see anything for an hour. Finally, to my left, I saw what I thought was the same doe and 8-point. The buck wasn’t chasing her or even showing any interest, but both deer kept looking back as if another deer was there.

“All of a sudden the 8-point decided to move on, just as I saw a much bigger deer. I raised my binoculars and about fell out of my stand! I started shaking the second I laid eyes on the huge buck. All I saw was horns!” John remembered.

“He was 350-400 yards out, so I grabbed my trusty Primos hardwood grunt call, stood up in my stand and hit the call as loud as I could without sacrificing sound quality. It worked!

“To my amazement, the buck dropped his head and started slowly walking in my direction. He was coming through some dog fennel about 4 feet high, and all you could see was his rack! Despite 40 years of experience, I couldn’t quit shaking.

“It took 20 minutes for him to travel about 100 yards before he stopped to look back where he had come from. I grunted softly, and it seemed he looked right at me before coming again. By then I was up and ready to draw.

“All I could look at were his legs, because looking at his rack was out of the question. He stopped at 23 yards, quartering to me. When he decided to look back – maybe for that doe – I drew back and let him have it. THWACK!

“You could hear the sound of those NAP Spitfires really good! Hail to the grunt call! He ran to my right into a maple hammock and disappeared. What an adrenalin rush! I kept yelling, ‘I just killed Bullwinkle!’ over and over. I wasn’t sure where the arrow hit, so I called my son Austin and good friend Carl to help find my buck, as light was fading fast.

“After several minutes of looking, anxiety set in. What if I didn’t hit him in the kill zone? The blood trail faded away, and it was getting dark fast when I saw what looked like a wad of palm fronds 50 yards away in some dog fennel.”

“It was my deer! Holy Moly Bullwinkle! I started dragging him by myself, but that 200 lb. body didn’t let me get far. About that time Carl and Austin came to the rescue!” John said.

“I want to thank my wife, Diane, for putting up with my deer hunting obsession. I hunt every day that I possibly can until around the middle of December. I wouldn’t trade being in the outdoors for anything. I’ve loved it for 40 years and counting. Hopefully there will be many more,” John added.

“I can’t stress enough about using a grunt call. I feel lost without it when I’m hunting. If I forget it, I will either not hunt or go back home and get it. It doesn’t work all the time, but I see a lot more curious bucks and does.

“Dominant bucks either sneak in or come charging in for a fight. I’ve called bucks in from September right up to December. You never really know. A buck is like a cat – really curious – and, as the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat!”

FWC Biologist Eddie Harmon scored the buck the next day as a 10-point typical with a gross score of 154-3/8 inches and a net score of 149-0/8.

The amazing main-frame 10-point rack features split G2s (making it a 12-point) and 11-inch G3s.

“I think the FWC did the right thing by moving our hunting seasons back a week. For years, I’ve noticed the increased deer activity earlier in the season than in years past. I see fawns born in March, so that means the does were bred in September,” John said.

“The heat and the mosquitoes are fierce, but the deer are moving in the early mornings and late evenings, and the bucks haven’t gone nocturnal yet! I also want to mention that we’ve been practicing a “4 points on one side rule” or “8 points or better” restriction for over 15 years. What a difference that makes for more quality, bigger bucks!

“Good luck to everyone chasing the dream of getting ‘the big one’ this year!”