Sometimes, the stars just align and, if you are ready, it’s just your time. It’s called preparation meets opportunity.
That’s the way it worked out for 15-year-old Gray Worthey on Oct. 2 when he arrowed a huge 14-point Hogue Island buck that officially scored 170. The huge deer weighed 240 pounds and was estimated to be 6 ½ years old. Worthey shot the deer during the opening week of bow season. It was only his third deer to kill with a bow and by far the largest.
The final meeting between Worthey and the big buck wasn’t by chance. He had been watching the monster on camera since it was in velvet back this summer. He and his dad and brother had seen the deer in previous seasons, but over this past year the buck just blew up in size and in spread.
The final chapter of the story started out when Worthey, his father Jim and his brother Jed, were quarantined at their hunting camp due to exposure to Covid-19. Worthey and Jed were both wanting first shot at the monster and had a “shoot off” to determine who got first chance. That was Jed, and even though he saw the big deer on his hunt, he could not get a shot.
The next day it was Worthey’s turn. He got on the stand well before daylight and about 7:30, the big deer eased out through the woods about 50 yards away from his Millennium lock-on. The deer made a big circle and started feeding, but never offered a shot. After it had been there a few minutes, something spooked the buck. He didn’t run off, but just slowly trotted off into the distance with Worthey helplessly watching.
Worthey texted his dad and told him he saw the deer and almost had a shot, but it walked off. He added, “I think I’m having a panic attack.” Who wouldn’t?
So, he went back early in the afternoon and actually cut out a few more small shooting gaps in case the deer came back the same way again. He wasn’t confident that it would, but he was going to be ready. And sure enough, right before dark, here came the big buck back on the same path. This time Worthey was ready and took the shot before the deer could get behind that group of small trees.
“When I shot him, he was slightly quartered toward me and I thought I’d made the perfect shot,” he said. “But the arrow only went in halfway and I wasn’t sure. With his size, we decided to just go back to camp and give him some time. After a while, we snuck back out and found a blood trail, but not a lot of blood. We found where he ran between two trees and broke the arrow off, so we decided to wait until morning and get some help.”
It was a good decision. Another good decision was contacting local tracker Brad Whittington, who brought his dog Boone and they tracked down the 14-point. It was laying in a patch of grass in the middle of a thicket.
The deer had been showing up pretty regularly on the camera. The Worthey’s decided he must have been laying up close to the feeding spot and whenever it got hungry, it would just get up and walk out to get a bite to eat. After he found the deer, Worthey was almost in shock. The best way he could describe it was “surreal.” He killed the buck with a Hoyt Spyder bow shooting a Victory RIP arrow with a Rage broadhead.
The story wouldn’t be complete without one more question answered. How did you sleep that night waiting to go look for the deer. Jim answered that question.
“He slept pretty good, but I didn’t,” Jim said. “We sat up late rehashing what had happened and I couldn’t wait to get back out there.”
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