Eleven days after an Illinois hunter tagged the pending Boone & Crockett world record 8-pointer, 32-year-old Kevin Peak shot another great 8 that should take the title as the biggest Kentucky 4-by-4 ever officially measured and recorded in the Boone & Crockett record book.
Peak, of Fisherville, Kentucky, was hunting a Shelby County farm where he’s had good success in recent years. In fact, he has shot three other wall-hangers from the same stand he was manning when this big buck ambled into range on December 12.
Peak first saw the buck during the Kentucky gun season, when he was checking trail cams in a thicket near a bean field. “The buck was chasing a doe and stopped 75 yards from me, but I wasn’t carrying a gun,” Peak recalls. “That was the worst feeling in the world. My wife’s uncle was with me, and he had a gun but couldn’t get the deer in his scope.”
The next day Peak hunted on the field edge near the thicket. “He came out about 8 in the morning and was feeding by himself about 225 to 250 yards from me. I watched him for 15 minutes, and I kept thinking he’d work his way down the field and I’d get a shot at him. But he never got very far from the thicket, and he went right back in when he was done eating. It just wasn’t a shot I felt comfortable taking.”
Two weeks passed before Peak saw the buck again. By then it was muzzleloader season. On December 12 he got into the same stand where he’d last seen the buck and watched as a group of five does came by and headed into the thicket where the buck bedded.
About 8:30 a.m. the wind died, so Peak decided to switch to a stand he calls “the honey hole.” It overlooks a creek near the thicket. “I’ve mounted four deer out of that same stand in eight years,” including this 150-class 10-pointer (right) from 2009. “It has always been good for big bucks. There’s food, a creek, thick cover, and I always see does in the area. They have everything they need.”
In 2004 he killed this 7-pointer with a 23-½ inch spread. The buck was estimated to be 8 ½ years old, which prompted Peak to wonder what the big whitetail looked like in its prime.
The next year produced this 8-pointer, which at the time was the biggest buck Peak had ever shot. “He’s not as wide and tall as this year’s 8, but there are a lot of similarities in their racks. I think they might be related.”
Around 8:45 a.m. Peak settled into the honey hole stand. By 9:15 he’d sighted the buck he was waiting for, walking straight down the creek toward him. “He came from that thicket I’d seen him in a couple weeks before. I knew it was him as soon as I saw that tall, chocolate rack. He was cruising through the woods, crossing right to left in front of me, quartering away slightly. He was so big I didn’t even try to stop him; I didn’t want to take a chance that he might take off running.”
As he centered the buck in his crosshairs, Peak was pondering the odds. “I thought, ‘I’ve seen this deer three times and third time’s a charm.’ I knew I’d better make the shot count, because if I let him get away again the chances were slim to none that I’d ever see him again. I pulled the trigger when he was 110 yards away.”
There was just one problem: When he’d climbed into his stand, Peak had found his gun rope covered in frost. As he pulled up his muzzleloader, the rope slipped from his hands. “The gun dropped a good five feet and slammed into the ground. I was a little worried the scope might have slipped, but I didn’t want to climb down and shoot it to find out.”
After the shot, the buck only ran about 15 yards and stood looking around the woods. “I thought I’d missed, and I eased the gun up to load another round just in case,” Peak recalls. “But he started staggering around and then he wobbled and fell into the creek.”
Taxidermist Donnie Durban of Louisville initially tallied a net green score approaching 173 inches. (Durban’s scoring notes are pictured here.) The two biggest Kentucky 8-pointers currently in the Boone & Crockett book both scored 171 4/8–and both were measured by official Boone & Crockett scorer Bill Cooper, a native Kentuckian who lives now in Georgia.
In late January, Cooper rough-scored Peak’s buck. Cooper won’t officially score the rack until a full 60 days have passed. “But I can tell you,” he says, “that it’s going to top 173 net and it’s going to be the biggest pure 8-pointer from Kentucky ever officially measured and recorded for Boone & Crockett.”
Cooper has scored several thousand bucks over the last 35 years. “Pure 8,” he explains, excludes 9-pointers that are scored as 8s, with the extra point counting as an abnormal point that is deducted from the net typical score. How rare is a record book pure 8? “To qualify for the all-time book at 170, as a rule of thumb you’re going to need a 20-inch spread, main beams of at least 25 inches, and circumference totaling more than 32 inches,” Cooper says. “The rest has to come from tine length.” With so few tines available, 8-pointers have to rack up seriously long (and seriously symmetrical) tines to qualify.
Peak’s buck has both. The longest tine is around 15 inches long and the second stretches more than 14 inches. The symmetry, Cooper says, is remarkable. “From side to side it matches up extremely well. On a big record-book deer, five to six inches of deductions isn’t considered bad. I think this rack will have less than five inches of deductions. It’s gonna get credit for about everything it grew.”
“We have an 18-month-old at home, so my wife was kind of on me about hunting too much this year,” laughs Peak, shown here with his son, Landon. “But when I told her about this deer, she said ‘Go ahead.’ She didn’t give me too much grief about hunting.”
He’s already added the buck to his trophy room, and within a couple of weeks he’ll have his official score. But he has already impressed his wife. “When I brought home that 150, she said, ‘That’s not that big a deer,'” Peak chuckles. “As soon as I recovered this 8-pointer I sent her a picture. She said, ‘That’s a huge deer, you need to get that mounted.’ That’s when I knew it was a pretty big deal.”
Eleven days after an Illinois hunter tagged the pending Boone & Crockett world record 8-pointer, 32-year-old Kevin Peak shot another great 8 that should take the title as the biggest Kentucky 4-by-4 ever officially measured and recorded in the Boone & Crockett record books.