Dylan Martin of Stoneville is lucky enough to have 600 acres of family land in Rockingham County, which is widely known as one of the state’s top trophy buck-producing areas. Martin and his dad are the only ones that regularly hunt the property, but Martin does love to take friends hunting there, and that’s a lucky thing for Josh Rickard of Madison, and Justin Richardson from Bolivia.
On Sept. 10, the opening weekend of archery season in the county, Martin took these two friends hunting, and they both killed trophy bucks, both of which were in full velvet.
Rickard’s buck was a 10-pointer, and it’s his first archery kill, and only the second buck he’s ever killed. And it wasn’t just any 10-point buck. This one’s rack gross scored 150 3/4 inches, and the deer weighed 224 pounds. He arrowed the trophy from 22 yards away.
Martin said that Rickard had not been hunting for quite some time and was just getting back into it, so he decided to sit Rickard in a ground blind at the edge of a soybean field where his trail cameras had been showing a number of good bucks, many of which were still in full velvet.
“Once bow season starts here, you normally really only have those first two or three days that you can kill one still in full velvet. In almost every year I’ve known, they lose their velvet, or at least most of it, that quickly after the season starts,” Martin said.
On top of this being Rickard’s first archery kill, it’s also the first buck he’s killed in full velvet.
Richardson hunts with Martin every year, and this is also the first full velvet buck he’s ever killed. While hunting on Saturday, Richardson missed a shot at a nice buck, but Sunday was a different story.
Sitting in a climbing stand on the edge of a cutover with strips of hardwoods and near a hayfield, Richardson stuck his buck at 18 yards not far from where Rickard killed his. And just like Rickard’s hunting spot, Martin knew from trail camera photos that plenty of big bucks were passing through this area.
Richardson’s buck was an 8-point in velvet with a score of 127.
Martin said while both of those bucks had appeared on his trail cameras, neither had ever shown up during daylight hours, until that day.
“That storm (Hurricane Irma) was getting close and the weather really had the deer moving. I don’t doubt that played a big part in them showing up during shooting hours,” he said.
Even though Martin’s land is in a prime part of the state, he said location isn’t the only thing that’s helped him manage for trophy bucks. Trapping coyotes also plays an important role.
“I trap coyotes as much as I can from November through February, and I’ve noticed a big difference from doing that. From before I ever trapped until the time since, I’ve noticed a lot more fawns make it,” he said.