EDITOR’S NOTE: When the photos of this deer were first sent to us by the hunter, Derek Settle, our immediate gut check was: it is a high-fence deer. Prior to interviewing Settle, we confirmed with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife that the male had been recorded as being killed and tagged in Kentucky via telecontrol. (Kentucky’s high-fence deer do not need to be registered.) After our interview with Settle, we were convinced his story was true. However, after reading the Facebook comments and seeing photos of her deer posted on an Indiana deer reserve page, one thing is clear: someone is not telling the truth. We are investigating this story and will keep you updated as we learn more.
Derek Settle solo hunted a monster that is sure to be in the record books and is possibly the biggest dollar ever taken in Kentucky, a state known for its booners. Settle says the impressive whitetail has at least 57 notable points and rated it at 289 5/8 inch B&C. The rack is still in the drying phase before it can be officially rated B&C. Settle was able to get an official SCI Green score on the Incredible Dollar, which reached a whopping 311 2/8 inches.
“When I saw him on the field, I never really acted like that in my adult life,” says Settle. “I didn’t even know how to act. I was just overjoyed. I hadn’t really realized what I had done because the hunt was so intense. Her rack was just the icing on the cake… that will never happen to me again.
Settle Got Trail Cam Picks of the Big Buck in 2020 – before it goes
Settle, 41, grew up in Bluegrass State and has long been a resident of Henderson County. He is a union carpenter and lived a few kilometers from his current property. He did some landscaping for the woman who lived on the land. After his death, he quickly reclaimed the 5-acre land and moved his family to a two-story log home on the property. It was four years ago.
“I could tell a lot of deer were passing by here,” he says, noting that neighbors also allow him to hunt their neighboring lands. “It’s a natural corridor. They use the clearing to move back and forth between agricultural fields and deciduous trees.
Settle got to work developing mineral and food plots and setting up several permanent stands. Property well hunted—really good. He has drawn good sums each of the last three seasons, including a nice 13 points last year. His sons also took some good deer. But nothing prepared Settle for the money he started taking track camera photos of in July 2020 on one of his mineral plots. “It just popped up out of nowhere,” says Settle. “I had never seen anything like this before. It was still velor at first, but I could just tell there was a lot going on under all that down. ”
The deer returned to the mineral plot at different times of the day for nearly six weeks. Then on August 28, 2020, a few weeks before the archery season opened, the buck visited the Settle property for the last time in a long time. “He just disappeared,” says Settle. “I thought he took off. I was hoping to see him again maybe. I just put it in my head. I never told anyone about him. I never showed the trail camera footage to anyone… I knew what it was.
A spot-and-stalk hunt on the deer of a lifetime
Settle recently installed a raised awning on the corner of his property closest to his house. When the wind blows towards his house, he knows it is a good time to hunt blind, as it was Saturday September 11, 2021, when Settle decided to go hunting around 2:30 pm. entered the blind, he saw something that [his] curiousity.”
“I was starting to situate myself,” he says. “I took off my backpack, drank a glass of Coke and settled in. I looked around a bit and something caught my eye. About 300 yards away, in the corner of a soybean field south of me, the light shone on its rack just as I looked that way. I was thinking, It is not a rack. I want it to be a rack, but it has to be a brush or a bunch of sticks, or something.“
Settle pulled out his Bushnell Powerview 7-15×25 binoculars to get a better look. He decided it was worth checking out and he still had plenty of time for a rod. He left everything blind except his crossbow, a brand new Raven R26 and an arrow. (Settle has a medical exemption to use a crossbow during archery season due to a herniated disc in his neck.)
“It took me a long time to get close to the deer,” he says. “I was going very slowly. I only moved when it was windy. I stopped a bunch to try to check it out and calm down. You know, I was excited. I knew that if I had the chance, I didn’t want to be out of breath and shake.
He stopped for a longer break about 55 yards from the buck. At that point, he could tell it was a good deer. He thought he probably had a 14 or 16 point rack. “It got really intense from 50 to 12 meters,” he says. “There was a wild sapling growing right up against the trees on the weed line. I used this to stay in the male’s blind spot. I entered on his left rear flank.
The male was lying down. He pulled out his phone to try and take a quick video of the deer, but a squirrel started barking at him.
“It got the attention of that money,” Settle recalls. “He turned his head in my direction and turned it straight. Then he started to pull those long legs out from under him to get up. I dropped the phone and firmed my bow. When he stood up, he had only his rump facing me. He was looking at me behind the back. I had no shot.
Then the male started to turn. Settle stabilized the bow. He says it was one of the most intense times of his life.
“Everything in my body at that point wanted to give up,” he says. “I was like, ‘It’s OK. No one would blame you for giving up now and not trying to shoot because of this stag’s madness. No one would believe me anyway. I was afraid to think it would never work again. I mean, these guys are so cunning and sneaky.
But the male took a full step to the right. It was bordered and slightly quartered from Settle. He took the hit.
A deer dedicated to dad
Settle immediately felt confident about the placement of his shot. He went to the point of impact and found bright red, sparkling blood. Then he got his gear from the blind and went home to pick up his 16 and 18 year old boys, whom Settle calls his “little track dogs.” They went back to get the money. He had run about 70 yards from where he was shot before hitting the ground. They loaded him onto a small ATV and drove him home.
Although Settle did not post the money on social media, he immediately sent the photos of his trophy to his stepfather.
“He taught me all the right and wrong, the dos and don’ts, and how to be safe in the field,” says Settle. “We spent a lot of time in the woods together growing up. I owe him a lot of that.
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Settle’s biological father, Terry, passed away earlier this year. He was a disabled veteran who served the country in the military and was commended by Kentucky Senator Robert Mills for making “many lasting contributions to his friends, family, community and nation before his death on 25 March 2021 ”. Terry was never able to join Settle in the field during his lifetime because of his disability. But Settle says he felt her presence in September.
“I felt like my father was with me like an angel on my shoulder,” he says. “I took him with him for the ride. I would like to dedicate this deer to him and to his memory.
“Bow hunting is just one of those things I loved when I was young,” adds Settle. “I got out of it a bit because I went to college and lived in the city, but came back to the country and went back. It’s like living a dream when I was little.