Patience Is Required to Take the Ghost Buck with Bo Holcombe

Bo Holcombe's patience paid off in taking the Ghost buck.
Bo Holcombe’s patience paid off in taking the Ghost buck.
Whitetail Deer and the Hunters Who Take Big Bucks by John E. Phillips
Whitetail Deer and the Hunters Who Take Big Bucks by John E. Phillips

Alabama-( Bo Holcombe of Brierfield, Alabama, knew there was a big buck on his property in Bibb County, because he’d had nighttime trail-camera pictures of the buck for 4 years.

“This buck would show up randomly at different locations on the 850 acres that I lease for me and my family to hunt,” Holcombe says. “He was unpatternable.”

Holcombe, who’s been hunting whitetails for 39 years and has harvested quite a few bucks and does with his bow and with his rifle, explains that this buck seemed to be a ghost that only appeared at night.

“The first pictures I ever got of this buck were 4-years ago when he was a velvet-antlered 3-1/2-year old 8-point and were the only pictures I had of him taken during daylight hours,” Holcombe explains. “In 2014, The Ghost seemed to be holding between three different food plots but still only was coming to them at night. I hunted him during bow season for 4 years and every weekend during gun season. I rotated my hunting sites, so I didn’t put a lot of hunting pressure on him in any one area. If I had my grandson, Nathan, or my nephew hunting with me, I’d let them take any legal buck or doe they wanted to harvest, while I searched for The Ghost.”

In 2014, Holcombe decided to concentrate his hunting for The Ghost, as he had named him, in the triangle created by the three green fields planted on the property. One key element to Holcombe’s hunting success and his ability to keep this buck on his property for 4 years was his sanctuary.

“On the land we hunt is 100 acres that’s so thick I’m not sure a rabbit can get through it,” Holcombe reports. “It’s bordered by a creek on one side and a highway on the other side. Quite a few deer trails go into and out of this thicket. There’s no way to hunt the thicket effectively. So, we’ve made it a sanctuary with no hunting allowed except on the outer edges.”

Also, in 2014, Holcombe decided to turn the triangle between the three green fields into a square by creating and planting a fourth green field.

“I never got a trail camera picture of The Ghost buck on the new food plot,” Holcombe explains. “However, on December 13, 2014, I decided to hunt there.”

Although Alabama had and still has a wide variety of rut start dates from October through February, in the area where Holcombe was hunting, the rut usually kicked in the middle of December. That time was when Holcombe had taken all the big bucks he’d ever harvested there. On December 13, he climbed into his box stand about 3:00 pm.

“At about 4:50 pm, I heard a couple of shots in the distance,” Holcombe remembers. “My son, Chris, who was hunting with me had texted me, ‘The deer must be moving.’”

A 6-point buck stepped out into Holcombe’s green field. About 10 minutes later, Holcombe spotted The Ghost on the opposite end of the green field.

“I thought my heart would jump out of my shirt, and I was breathing as heavily as if I’d run a 100-yard dash,” Holcombe says. “This was the biggest buck I’d ever seen. He was about 100-yards away and came out of the woods, facing me and feeding. But he never gave me a broadside shot.”

“The 6-point buck got nervous and ran to the other end of the field away from The Ghost. Finally The Ghost turned toward the 6-pointer across the field, as I kept the crosshairs on my rifle on the buck. I wanted to know that when and if I finally squeezed the trigger, the buck would go down.”

At 75 yards, the deer turned broadside. Once the buck took the bullet, he ran all the way to the other end of the 4-acre field. Then Holcombe heard the big buck fall.

Holcombe was hunting with an H&R .270 single shot rifle, because according to Holcombe, “The single-shot rifle is easier to get in and out of a box blind. Now when I’m hunting over cutovers, I hunt with a bolt-action rifle to have the opportunity for a second shot. But on a green field, that first shot is most often the only shot you ever get.” Holcombe immediately texted Chris, “I got the big one.” Chris texted back, “Yeah, I bet you shot the 6-pointer.”

Holcombe says that seeing pictures of this buck was one thing, but looking at the buck on the ground, was a totally different experience. Live weight on the buck was 250 pounds – a true monster-sized whitetail for Alabama. But the story doesn’t end here, as Holcombe explains.

“We’ve gotten trail-camera pictures of a 9-point buck with the same main frame as The Ghost. This 3 – 4 year old’s antlers already will score in the 150 class. If Nathan is with me on the hunt, and if I have a chance, I may take this new big buck we’ve discovered. And, let me make one thing clear. I didn’t wait on The Ghost until he was 7-1/2 years old to take him. He was just so smart and so elusive I never had an opportunity to take him until then.”

  • BTR Score – Buckmasters’ Composite Score – Number of Inches: 194-7/8
  • Official Buckmasters’ Score: 177-1/8 (doesn’t include inside spread of main beams)

This is an excerpt from John E. Phillips newest book “Whitetail Deer and the Hunters Who Take Big Bucks”. Click here to get more info about this deer hunting book and other deer hunting books by John E. Phillips