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Trail cam pics didn’t do justice to a Ritchie County buck

CAIRO, W.Va. — J.P. McClung had been watching a specific buck for about four years as the 2022 archery season in West Virginai came open. McClung, from Ritchie County, discovered the buck he’d been eyeing up–and allowing to walk for the past couple of years was starting to come into his own in terms of antler potenntial.

“It’s a buck that showed up on our property while I was hunting another big buck I killed a few years ago. He was pretty cool as a two year old and had some great character. We let him walk for a couple of years, but this year as a four year old he kind of blew up,” McClung explained in an interview on West Virginia Outdoors.

McClung was still on the fence about killing the buck in 2022, but decided to make it his target to at least lay eyes on the buck since until that point all he had was pictures.

“I had actually debated walking him another year. The day before I got him he had come in in the morning, but then he didn’t come in that evening,” McClung explained.

He works on the pipeline and it’s rare he gets a day off to try and pattern a big buck, but on this particular day rainfall had caused the foreman to send the crew home for the day. McClung didn’t have too be told twice. He made a bee-line for home, suited up, and was in the tree stand late in the day. He’d been in the stand only a half hour when things started to happen.

“A doe came in and she was kind of finicky. She kept looking behind her and I could tell by the way she was acting it wasn’t does behind her. I pulled up the binoculars and saw the tines coming through the brush and I’d know that buck any time of day,” he said.

He added it was a far bigger buck than the pictures had indicated.

McClung has a YouTube and social media hunting show he does with a buddy and set the cameras in place to film the hunt as the buck closed in on the doe.

“He was pushing her around a little. I got the camera set up on the spot it needed to be. He worked up toward me and at first stepped out of the frame, but he turned around and stepped right back into the frame at 30 yards and I was able to put a good shot on him and go recover him,” he explained.

The buck, pictured above, was a handsome thing. According to McClung the amateur math puts him the scorning range of 150 inches Pope and Young–well above the 130 he had expected when all he had were trail cam pictures.

“He’s got 13 scoreable points. with split brows and an eye guard of the bottom of his beam. The mass was really good too with 5 inch bases,” he explained. “He’s just a really nice deer.”