A Big Buck on the Rut Farm

It was late 2016 and Lane Hartley was looking for a new place to hunt in Pennsylvania. His search brought him to a little farm in Adams County. After spending the day scouting, he knew he’d be hunting there the next year.

“There was so much sign there,” Hartley said. “A lot of old rubs and scrapes. I knew this place was going to be good in the latter part of bow season.”

By the summer, Hartley was doing what you’d expect of a deer hunter, hanging trail cameras to spot any shooter bucks. After a few weeks, though, nothing that caught his eye turned up. “I knew it had to be more of a rut farm,” he said. “So I pulled the cameras and let all of the pressure off.”

Hartley was back by the beginning of October with his camera to search for a scrape. He found one that appeared to be used by several bucks. If there were any bruisers on the property, he figured that’s where one would hang out.

A few weeks later, he got a picture of a wide, tall eight point. “It was clear that he was a mature buck,” Hartley said. “We named him Mike after getting consistent pictures of him. I started hanging more cameras to find out exactly what he was doing so when the time was right I could slip in and harvest him.”

One of the many trail camera pictures that were captured of "Mike."

By Halloween, Hartley had the buck’s pattern figured out. The next day, Mike was spotted by one of Hartley’s friends, just after legal shooting hours. Hartley spotted the buck the next day after shooting hours, as well. On November 3, Hartley was determined when he entered the woods. In the stand, he used his grunt call in hopes of luring the giant in - it didn’t take long. “He showed up and made a rub on two trees and then made a scrape,” he said.

When the buck was 28 yards away, Hartley let his arrow fly, tipped with a Jak-Knife. “It was a marginal shot, so I backed out for a few hours. The next morning I found Mike only 80 yards from where I shot him.”

The buck scored 131-⅞ inches, one of Hartley’s biggest to date. “I truly believe if it wasn’t for the Jak-Knife, I never would have found him,” he said. “I feel blessed to have harvested this buck.”