CHAPMANVILLE - Myron Copley couldn’t believe his luck.
The buck he’d hunted since opening day stood just a few yards away, scraping at the forest floor with its hooves. Copley gripped his bow nervously, waiting for a chance to draw and shoot.
He never got one. A sudden sound spooked the buck into the next county. Moments later, though, the creature that made that sound gave the 19-year-old hunter the thrill of his young lifetime.
“That morning sure did have its ups and downs,” Copley said.
“Downs and ups” would have described it more accurately. Copley had planned to rise at 5 a.m. so he could be in his stand well before daylight. On that particular day, Dec. 3 of West Virginia’s 2013 bowhunting season, sunrise occurred at 7:27 a.m.
“I overslept,” Copley said. “I only had about 20 minutes to go before daylight. I got to my stand late, so I figured I’d already ruined my morning.”
Three hours of fruitless stand-sitting convinced Copley he was right. Not much stirred in the Mingo County woods, and by 10 a.m. the young Lenore resident had about all the boredom he could take.
“I packed up my video recorder and most of the rest of my gear,” he recalled. “I was just about ready to leave when I looked up and saw a buck coming in.”
It wasn’t just any buck, it was the big nine-pointer he’d been hunting for the past two months.
“I had seen him on trail camera pictures, and I’d been laying for him since opening day, but up to then I’d had no luck,” Copley said. “And there he was, coming straight toward me.”
The buck ambled within 10 yards of the hunter’s stand and began working a scrape. Copley waited patiently for it to turn away from him so he could draw his bow without spooking the wary animal.
A loud grunt startled both the hunter and the deer.
“It was a big buck - a really big buck - and it moved in and chased that nine-pointer right off that scrape,” Copley said. “I was 10 yards away when all this was happening, and I could see the big buck’s rack as plain as day. All I could think was, ‘My lord, I hope I don’t mess this up.’ “
After what seemed like hours, the buck turned and began to walk away.
“I could see that it was headed toward a little tree,” Copley said. “I knew that if I timed it right, I could draw my bow as the buck’s head went out of sight behind the trunk. But then, just as I drew back, the buck stopped and I had to wait. It seemed like forever before he finally stepped out.”
The buck jumped as the arrow struck.
“I could see it was a good shot. The arrow hit just behind the right shoulder,” Copley said.
The buck ran down into a nearby ravine, started up the other side and paused.
“He stood there for a second or two, then staggered and fell,” Copley said. “I knew then that I had him.”
Like any good bowhunter, Copley waited several minutes to make absolutely certain his quarry was dead before walking over to it. “Besides, I had to wait a few minutes for my legs to start working again,” he joked.
It took a while to count all the buck’s antler points.
“Depending on what looked like a point and what didn’t, I came up with 18 or 19,” Copley said. “What really amazed me about the rack was how much mass it had. To be perfectly honest, I was in a daze. I was afraid that at any time, somebody was going to slap me and wake me up and ask if I was going hunting today.”
The buck’s body turned out to be as massive as its antlers. Copley quickly discovered that he couldn’t possibly get the carcass out of the woods by himself.
“I went to my mamaw’s house and got my brother out of bed. Then I called my mom. She met my brother and me out there, and the three of us managed to get it back to the truck,” Copley recalled.
The buck created quite a stir when Copley took it to the game-checking station at nearby Laurel Lake.
“It drew a crowd,” he said. “And later, after I took it to my house, people came over there to see it.”
The buck’s non-typical antlers green-scored at 190 5/8 inches gross, and netted 180 4/8. Even if it loses a little size to shrinkage before it’s officially scored, it will still rank as the state’s largest non-typical bow kill for the 2013 season.
Despite his young age, Copley is no stranger to bragging-sized bucks. In previous seasons he had killed five that scored 130 inches or better, but none that remotely approached the size of his most recent trophy.
He doesn’t know if he’ll ever kill another buck as large as that one, but that won’t stop him from trying.
“Now the challenge is to try to find a bigger one,” he said.