May 14, 2022
Once a deer hunter, always a deer hunter, right? That turned out to be true for BJ Davis, despite a 20-year hiatus from the sport. Introduced to the outdoors by his father, BJ first went hunting when he was 5 years old. At the time, dog hunting was the preferred method of most locals.
They would load the trucks with dogs and start the party. The men would turn the dogs loose and then let them lead the deer past the hunters. That was a way of life for decades. Then, around the late 1980s and early 1990s, tree hunting became more popular. However, BJ and his father enjoyed spending time hunting together, regardless of the method.
Back to the game
When BJ was in his early 20s, his father passed away suddenly from cancer. Hunting had always been something they did together, and much of its meaning was lost when BJ’s father left. Unfortunately, the young man no longer had the drive.
Nearly two decades later, BJ began to feel like going again. Later, a friend invited him and his son to hunt on a well-managed property. BJ landed a big 12-point shot, and that reignited a 20-year flicker into a full-fledged flame. After that hunt, BJ’s friends wanted him to join his hunting club. But because of his busy work schedule, plus a wife and five kids, BJ couldn’t justify the two-and-a-half-hour drive.
Around the same time, BJ was introduced to the Seek One hunting group, which focuses on urban and suburban deer hunting. The hunters in the group inspired BJ to start knocking on doors for hunting permits. So, he began to approach the landowners and gain access. “If you have a good bow hunter on your land, they can help you get rid of poachers, trespassers, clean up trash, maintain property, etc,” explains BJ. “All I ask is that you can hunt with archery.”
discovering a giant
The strategy has worked for BJ and he has been given permission to hunt numerous properties. Some of them are also good. On one such property, near suburban Birmingham, he discovered a giant whitetail. Another hunter in the area sent BJ a photo from the game camera. “The photo looked doctored, especially for Alabama,” laughs BJ. “It looked fake! I mean, a 150-inch deer here is a giant. This deer was probably 170 inches tall in 2018.”
At the end of the 2019 season, BJ explored an area of thick bedding and learned that the male lived there. Trail cameras revealed that the deer appeared frail and weak. However, he was at the end of the rut, and the deer was probably exhausted. However, BJ had evidence that the male had survived the hunting season.
The next summer, BJ set up cameras on the property in hopes of finding the money once again. Soon the male reappeared, and he was bigger than ever. Three years of trail camera photos and no sightings meant one thing: this deer would be hard to catch. However, that would change soon.
On Saturday night, November 28, BJ decided that he would go hunting the next morning. “We go to church, so Sunday morning hunts are usually for me,” explains BJ. “But my wife wanted to go to church late, which was an 11:30 am service. So I told her that she was going to climb a tree for me a couple of hours before I go to church.”
The next morning, on November 29, more favorable winds blew. It was a little hot and cloudy, and the meteorologist predicted rain later that day. Maybe that would spur an early deer movement, BJ thought.
The bowhunter knew that the deer was likely to be in the area, but the deer had not been to his chambers in 30 days. His confidence was low. Still, BJ wanted to enjoy some time outside. He had two positions in mind, in one of which the male was more regular. “I used a coin toss app to decide which booth to go to, and it would tell me to go to the one I didn’t want to go to,” says BJ. “So, finally, I decided to go there and see what happened.
Unfortunately, upon arrival, BJ caught a deer under the stall. His confidence fell even further. At this point, he was really just there to enjoy nature. He certainly didn’t anticipate seeing the unusual giant. Despite the disappointments, BJ settled on the dais and waited for daylight. She listened to the bubbling water of the small stream below. As the sun rose, she began to scan her surroundings. Nothing moved between the ridge of oaks to her left, mature pines to the front and back, or the thicket to the right. Not even a squirrel walked the old path that wound through the wood.
Then around 7:30 am, BJ saw some feet in the brush about 80 yards away. “I thought it was a doe,” says BJ. “But I dropped the binoculars and saw her shelf! I had seen him so many times in the in-game camera footage and in my mind that I knew it was him.”
Self-filming his hunt, BJ set up the cameras, focused them, and went through his pre-shoot routine. Everything was ready. The money kept coming in, and he kept filming. BJ reminded himself that he should breathe. After several minutes, the giant deer came in and stopped behind a tree 15 yards away. BJ drew his bow, but the deer stayed behind the tree for about 45 seconds, forcing the hunter to drop it. A few seconds later, the deer took three more steps, exposing his vital organs. BJ backed up once more, and then took the 12-yard sideline shot.
The huge deer ran back the way it came and traveled up the old logging road to the ridge of oaks. The stallion fell to the ground in a matter of seconds, and there was no doubt that it was a double-lung blow. “I captured the hunt and shot on film, which was great,” says BJ. “And I cried for about 20 minutes before I called my wife, my friend and other people.” One of the ones BJ called was his friend Jason Wallace, who was a big part of the hunt.
The BJ male scored 199 4/8 atypical and 186 6/8 typical. The male has aged 7 1/2 years. It wasn’t until later that BJ realized what he had accomplished, having caught a whitetail that is now in the top five typical and non-typical males ever taken by Alabama bowhunters. “It was life changing,” says BJ. “It was fun and it was crazy. I give glory to God.”