STATE RECORD NON-TYPICAL BOWKILL
JOHNNY LOCKLEY - Cherry Valley, AR
4/8 Year Killed: 1996 County: Cross
Points: R- 13 L- 11 Inside Spread: 20 7/8 Outside Spread: 22 4/8
R. Main Beam: 24 2/8 Left Main Beam: 25 2/8 R. Base Circ: 5 1/8 Left Base Circ: 4 6/8
Johnny Lockley is a
47-year-old rice and soybean farmer who lives in his 'dream
home', along with wife Rena and stepson Shane Deneben, along the
crest of Crowley's Ridge, somewhat southeast of the small Cross
County community of Cherry Valley. He and his brothers, Chris and
Lonnie, farm 10,000 acres located over by the
'wide-spot-in-the-road' of Birdeye.
On January 8, just after the New Year of 1997, Johnny was just plain bored. He had been cooped up inside so long that he was coming down with a good case of 'cabin fever', as the oldtimers call it.
"Rena was at work, Shane was at school, and all that was on TV was soaps," Johnny said. "The longer the day wore on, the more I began to look at my bow, standing over there in the corner."
"We have forty acres here," Johnny went on to add, "and we plant milo and soybeans in several food plots down behind the house just for the deer."
A little after 3:00 p.m. Johnny slipped into his heavy coat and gloves, picked up his Bear Whitetail compound, and headed down the ridge. The winter weather was cold, the temperature in the low 30's as he neared his 'stand' site, merely an old metal chair sitting back in a dense honeysuckle thicket, looking out over the largest of the food plots. The strong north wind which had been blowing all day made the temperature seem even colder than it was, and soon a light rain began to fall. That precipitation quickly changed to sleet, the frozen drops bouncing off the metal chair.
"I guess I had been there about thirty minutes, thinking how stupid I was all the time, when I saw deer coming off the ridge on the opposite side of the plot. There were three does and a buck...a BIG buck!"
"They entered the field off to my left, and I would have to shift into position for a shot. But every time I moved one of the does would jerk up her head and stare at my position. They got so close that I could hear the ice crackling as they jerked at the soybeans. By this time there was ice hanging off my bow too, and I could even see it hanging on the buck's horns!"
Johnny shoots fingers, and had slipped the glove off his draw hand when the deer appeared. But with the temperature rapidly falling as darkness approached, his fingers gradually lost all feeling.
"Finally the deer started moving away from me," Johnny said, "and I was able to turn and get the bow drawn. My fingers were so numb by that time I couldn't even feel the bowstring, but I released just before the buck walked back into the woods".
"He jumped when I shot, then disappeared into the trees! I got up and went to the spot where he had been standing to look for blood, but didn't find any. I truly was afraid by then that my fingers were frozen, so I decided to go back to the house and warm up."
Shane had made it in from school, so after Johnny thawed out the two took some flashlights and returned to the soybean field. Working in the direction the deer had gone, they never found a blood trail, tracks, or any indication that the buck had been hit. But just as the whole task began to seem hopeless, Shane located the buck, almost totally covered with sleet, lying just inside a dense honeysuckle thicket!
Officially scored at 215 4/8 net non-typical points, Johnny's 13x11 buck becomes the largest Natural State whitetail ever taken with a bow! It breaks the old Arkansas state record, taken by Gary Powell of Elkins, by almost 30 inches! It is also believed to be the largest bowkill taken in the entire United States during the 1996-97 season.
Oh, by the way...it was Johnny Lockley's first bowkill!!