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Alachua 9-point is #1 Archery and #1 Typical

Last October, with one perfectly-placed arrow, David Locascio took the new all-time Pope & Young record bow buck for Alachua County – and what is believed to be the new #2 Pope & Young buck for the state of Florida.

The 9-point beast gross-scored 148-4/8 inches and netted 143-6/8 to rank as the #2 entry in the 2012-13 “Florida Buck of the Year” contest. David nicknamed the buck “Tangi” after Tangipahoa Parish in Louisiana where his parents were born and raised. He also calls the 16-acre parcel of land he hunts on the edge of Gainesville the “Tangipahoa Timber Company.”

The morning he took the record buck was his dad’s 79th birthday. “I had been hunting and trying to pattern deer on my little piece of heaven for two years and never took a shot. There were plenty of deer and monster bucks on camera, but they’d only come out at night,” David said.

“My brother Paul and I were leaving the last Friday in October for our annual Stony Bottom Bow Hunting Club week of bow hunting in West Virginia. As luck would have it, there was a full moon brewing in Gainesville, so I made it a point to get in a tree before the 15-hour drive north to smooth out any kinks in my equipment and to see what the full moon would bring.

“At 11:30 a.m. Monday morning, a medium-sized 8-point was trailing does and walked right into my arrow at an easy 20 yards. If I had known what was to come, I never would have shot that up-and-coming trophy,” David admitted. “Two days later I was patiently sitting in my stand, nocked and ready, when I caught a glimpse of movement out of my left eye. I slowly turned, using the large sweet gum I was sitting in as my shield, to see a huge buck about 50 yards out and moving quickly in the ‘wrong direction’,” he said.

“In my younger days, I’d have taken that shot, but experience has taught me it was way too risky for a good, clean kill shot. So, I just stood there and watched the biggest bow hunting buck I had ever seen trot through the trees and disappear out of sight. My heart was pounding so hard I couldn’t sit down. I stayed on my feet with my bow ready, just in case.

“Fifteen minutes later I caught another glimpse of movement in the distance. There he was! He had circled back and was about 150 yards away – barely visible through the trees and brush.

“I hit my doe bleat, and his head popped up as he looked in my direction. After he started slowly moving toward me, I hit the bleat again, and he turned and walked straight at me. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Then suddenly, at about 50 yards out, he veered off the trail and headed into the brush and trees.

“I quickly scanned the direction he was headed, looking for any clear shot, but there was nothing but a 4-foot hole between two trees just feet from his current position. He was on the move, and his head was already passing behind the first pine tree when I threw up my bow, drew and placed my 40-yard pin at what I calculated was his shoulder height. It seemed like a fraction of a second later when his head passed the tree.

“I quickly realigned my pin and released my arrow as his shoulder emerged from behind the tree. In 15 years of bow hunting it was the quickest draw and release I have ever done,” David said.

“I knew I had a hit him when his front legs left the ground as he reared back and took off like a thunderbolt. He sprinted about 200 feet, threw on the brakes, spun almost 180 degrees and disappeared into dense cover.

“Having taken a shot that quickly, between the branches in my tree stand, through a 4-foot opening at 39 yards, at a moving target and watching the buck run like the blazes, my heart sank. I thought for sure I had missed the kill shot,” David admitted.

But, just in case, David sat in the tree for two hours to give his arrow time to do its job. As it turned out, the monster made it 300 yards before going down. And now, “Tangi” is hanging over the fireplace and will be inscribed in the Pope and Young record books forever.

“I’ve been bow hunting for about 15 years, and 2012 was my best year. I hunted Florida, West Virginia and Georgia to take eight deer in eight shots! “After a few surgeries and a long hunting drought, I took the 2012 hunting season pretty seriously. I bought my first new bow in 15 years and put in hours and hours of practice and preparation. My new bow from Alachua Farm and Lumber just couldn’t miss! I shot the biggest doe I’ve ever seen in West Virginia, three does at The Smoken Arrow Bow Hunting Club in Macon, Ga. and two does and two bucks in Gainesville. Not bad for an old man!” David joked.

“When I delivered ‘Tangi’ to Tony’s Taxidermy in Hawthorne, Fla., my taxidermist, Jay, said he’d never seen a Florida bow kill this big,” David added. “The biggest I have ever shot came from my own hometown!”

After being scored by the FWC, “Tangi” was also scored by official Pope and Young scorer Ronnie Everett. To top off his amazing year, David took his 14-year-old son to Macon, Ga. for his first hunting trip and he took a doe at 30 yards from a ground blind. “I actually felt a little bad, because I had promised Logan (a sports addict) we’d go into town and watch the Gator football game, but we spent the evening butchering instead,” David said.

“Later that weekend we had a group of five does and spikes within 30 yards of our second blind and enjoyed watching the spikes butt heads. Then, a large spike walked up and stood broadside within 15 feet of us. We nodded at each other, smiled real big and just enjoyed the sight. You never now...he might be our next record trophy in a few years!

“Three weeks later I took my 13-year-old daughter, Leah, to Macon for her first hunt. I set her up in my ladder stand and put my climber in a tree about 20 feet next to her.

“This time when I caught a glimpse of motion it was her head falling forward as she struggled to stay awake. Times like those is when a dad is really happy that he and his kids ALWAYS use a safety harness. I took the first doe to show up, as she was too tired and there was no waiting until dark for a big buck.

“Fifteen years ago my younger brother, Paul, put a bow in my hands, and I never picked up another rifle. I was instantly hooked on the unique challenges and physicality of bow hunting. Plus, it’s always nice to be able to practice in your own back yard.

“I know I’ll never have another season like this one – 8 shots, 8 deer, a kill for each of my kids on their first hunt and a record Pope and Young buck. But, I’m not giving up. I’m already tuning my bow, organizing my gear, and visualizing next year’s trophy shot.

“On a side note to any young bucks out there addicted to hunting – don’t get married during the rut! Choosing between hunting the rut and your anniversary can be hazardous to your marriage (and your health),” David added.