PSE Pro Corky Richardson Takes World Record Big Game Animals in Arizona with His PSE Bows
Editor’s Note: PSE Pro Corky Richardson of Laveen, Arizona, guide and owner of Richardson Guide/Outfitters, shoots the X Force Dream Season Evo. He prefers the smoothness of the draw, even when he’s pulling 70 pounds. However, this past season, he primarily used the original X Force Long Draw bow, since he liked the speed of this bow and its flat shooting ability. His longest shot for taking an animal was 104 yards. Richardson’s favorite place to guide is Units 9 and 10 in Arizona for elk. He also guides for buffalo. This year, he guided five bowhunters and each one took a buffalo. His wife Cindi took a Boone & Crockett buffalo this year, making her the first person to take the 10 big game animals of Arizona with her bow.
PSE Pro Corky Richardson Takes a Pope & Young Record Mule Deer
Corky, what’s one of the best animals you’ve taken with your PSE bow?
When I first signed on with PSE, I was able to take a 200 inch mule deer. I bought an over the counter tag to hunt an area I’d hunted when I was a kid. We hunted the north rim of the Kaibab National Forest in north central Arizona near Williams, Arizona. The purpose of the hunt wasn’t to take a big mule deer, but to teach my wife how to stalk. While hunting, we saw about 20 different bucks. During the course of the hunt, she whispered to me, “Look, behind us! There’s a really big buck coming.” I was able to take him. For a while, this buck was the number 2 mule deer buck taken with a bow in the world. However, over the years, he’s moved down on the list. The buck was typical and scored exactly 200 Boone & Crockett points with no eighths. When I first saw the buck, he was 80 yards away, and I was lucky enough to stalk to within 16 yards of him.
How did you get that close to a buck that size?
The buck was bedded down near a small ravine. I crawled in the ravine, came up over the lip of the ravine and took the shot at 16 yards. I actually shot the buck right between the legs when he was in the bed. There was a deer on my left and one on my right when I came up to shoot. I had to really thread the needle to make the shot.
How far did you have to belly crawl up that ravine to get close enough to the buck to take the shot?
I crawled about 60 or 70 yards up a ravine about 3 feet deep. I’m 6 feet, 5 inches tall, so when I crawl, I’m still a little high off the ground.
How did you know how the buck was laying once you started crawling through the ravine?
Before I started my crawl, I picked a point where I wanted to take the shot by a stump on the edge of the ravine. I knew that as soon as the buck saw me, I’d have very little time to get off the shot. So, I drew my PSE Laser Mach bow while I was in the ravine. Luckily I had the wind in my favor, so the buck didn’t really know what was going on until an arrow was on its way.
Where was the buck when you took the shot?
He stood up when he saw me. The arrow went through him, and the buck ran off. I found my arrow stuck in a tree. I told my wife, “I can’t believe I missed that buck.” She looked at me, smiled and said, “You didn’t miss him. You hit him dead center.” We went over, found the blood trail and tagged the buck. He’d gone about 80 yards. Luckily, we were able to get our truck right to the deer to load him up and go home. I knew this was a good buck. He was number 2 on the Pope & Young record when I took him.
PSE Pro Corky Richardson Takes the Tallest Antelope Ever With An Incredible Shot
Corky, you took the tallest antelope that’s ever been recorded in 1999. Tell us about that hunt.
I was hunting with the PSE F2 Maxis Compound Bow. I’d watched this antelope for 3 years. He had exceptionally tall horns. Since this area could only be hunted with a bow, the animals there had an opportunity not only to reach maturity, but also to really reach older age classes and large weights. I wasn’t the only bowhunter after this buck. For 3 years, a wide variety of people had been trying to take him. Almost everyone knew about the buck and the height of the buck’s antlers. Although nobody knew for sure, everyone I hunted with felt that this buck’s horns were more than 20 inches long. Up until the time when I took this buck, there had only been one antelope registered in the records that had been taken with a gun or a bow that had horns near this tall. Luckily, I had a picture of this buck standing beside another buck that another hunter had taken. So, we knew the horn length of that buck was 18 inches. I put the picture of the buck that measured 18 inches in a projector and enlarged the picture to measure his horns. Then I measured the horns of the big buck standing next to him. That’s when I knew the big buck’s horns were more than 20 inches long. I talked to other hunters with permits for that area and told them to take this buck if they had an opportunity, because he was a whopper. Although this was public land, you had to draw a permit to hunt this particular region.
There were two hunts on this area, and Dave and Pete, two of my friends, drew tags to hunt the first hunt. Each day of their hunt, they’d call with reports like, “I almost had him today,” “I just missed him today,” or, “I had him bedded but couldn’t get the shot.” So, when my chance came to hunt this buck, I knew that I’d do everything I could to try to harvest the buck that nobody could take. My dad usually hunts with me, but for some reason, he hadn’t hunted with me the 2 previous years when I’d hunted this buck. The year I took this tallest antelope I’d hunted elk at the Navajo Indian Reservation with Dad. After hunting elk for a couple of days, not seeing very many and not having an opportunity for a shot, Dad finally said, “Hey, let’s go hunt that big antelope you’ve been after.” So, the next day we went after the antelope. My dad saw the buck first off in the distance on the horizon. Dad told me, “I see a nice sized 2 point mule deer.” But when I looked in the spotting scope, I said, “No, Dad, that’s the big antelope.” Dad said, “That can’t be an antelope. Those horns are over 20 inches!” When the antelope moved to where Dad could see him better, Dad looked at me and said, “We’re gonna forget about hunting elk. We’re gonna stay here until we get this antelope.”
There was a rule where we were hunting that you couldn’t shoot within 440 yards of a home. Once you spotted an animal, you had to use the range finder to check your distance from private residences. When we first spotted this buck, he was bedded 50 yards from the road, and there was a game and fish officer and a county sheriff there. They had spotted a hunter crawling between a house and the antelope. The hunter was in a good position to shoot the antelope. I saw that he had an arrow nocked, so I backed off and got down in a ravine, hoping that if the other hunter crawling on the antelope missed, or if the two law enforcement officers disturbed the hunter and the buck, the antelope might come by me. I made sure I was more than 440 yards away from the private land, the sheriff and the game and fish officer. After I was in position, Dad went to talk to the game and fish officer. But before he could reach them, the two law enforcement officers arrested the bowhunter crawling on the big antelope. They scared the antelope, and I didn’t get a shot at him.
The next day, Dad and I took up the hunt for the antelope again. I believed that if that buck would just get to this one particular ridge, I could get close enough to take the shot. The ridge was steep on each side and was 80 yards wide, and I knew that if the antelope got in the middle of the ridge, I could crawl up the side of the ridge and have a 40 yard shot. But when we reached the area to look for the buck, he already was on top of that ridge. I ran down and got into the ravine that ran alongside the ridge and started making his way up to the ridge. When I reached the crest of the ridge, I saw the smaller buck, and he spotted me. The big buck came running right by me, so close that I had to lay flat to the ground, and ran the smaller buck off the top of the ridge. Apparently, this ridge was where the big buck was meeting his does. After about 5 minutes, the big buck came back to meet up with his does and stood just over the brink of the hill. I couldn’t see his body but I could see his horns. I released the arrow, it cleared the ridge, and the big antelope went down 35 yards away from me. This buck probably had been the most hunted buck in Arizona.
How did you make the shot over the crest of the hill when you only could see the moving buck’s antlers?
I read a book many years ago by Fred Bear, and he said that his most memorable shot was when he took a stone sheep over the crest of the hill. He could see the top of the sheep’s head, the horns and the back of the animal, but he couldn’t see any more of the sheep. He said that he aimed, so that he’d just miss the ground, knowing that the arrow would fall once it cleared the crest of the hill, and assumed it should drop right into the vitals of that sheep. I remembered the story and decided to try the same shot. Usually this buck was so spooked that when he saw or heard a bow fired, he immediately bolted. Even before I took the shot, I thought that with the ground in between the buck and me, he shouldn’t be able to hear the bow fire or the arrow fly. All I could see when I took the shot was about half of his horns. Because he’d just walked past me, I knew where his body was in relation to his horns. So, I aimed to just miss the ground. When I took the shot, the antelope was 35 yards quartering away. As soon as the arrow cleared the ground, I heard the rear quartering shot arrow hit, and before I could stand and get to the buck, he’d already gone down. This arrow went from his left femoral artery and out his right shoulder. What made the hunt even greater was that my dad was with me through the stalk, the shot and the recovery. He was down the hill just a little when I shot. The only way I could’ve made that shot was with an extremely flat shooting bow, because my arrow had to clear the ground before it could drop into the antelope.
I felt confident taking the shot, because I shoot a number of instinctive tournaments. I had won the World Field Archery Championships before, and to win this tournament, you had to shoot a 9 inch target that’s thrown with a flat side to you out of a machine. You have to shoot this target like you’re shooting trap or skeet, because you have to lead it and shoot instinctively. My teacher and his son were the other two contestants in the tournament, and all three of us had shot 59 targets without a miss. In the shoot off, my teacher and his son missed, and I didn’t. My instinctive eye always helped me to determine distance and arrow flight when I didn’t know the range of a moving target. I’d shot a bow with no sight for many years. On this particular shot, my instinctive shooting coupled with my ability to use a pin sight and the knowledge of the shot that Fred Bear had made all came together when I took the tallest antelope that ever had been taken. He’s the SCI (Safari Club International) world record, and I think he still ranks number 3 on Pope &Young.
PSE Pro Corky Richardson’s World Record Bison
Corky, you hold the world record for bison, don’t you?
Yes, I do. I took my world record bison in the spring of 2001. That year, only four permits were given for bison. I had the max points for Arizona, but I finally drew the tag. I consider the buffalo the most difficult animal in Arizona to hunt. The largest number of buffalo lives in the Grand Canyon National Park, where you can’t hunt. So, you only can hunt them on U.S. Forest Service land. The hope is to find a rogue bull that has moved out of the park and lives outside the park. When I went on this hunt, this area had a heavy snowstorm. The first 7 days I hunted, I never even saw a track, although for the first 7 days, five or more folks used quads and 4 wheel drives to go in different directions to help me find a buffalo to hunt. Finally, a friend of mine found tracks that looked like two bulls. We followed the tracks over the mountain and got into waist deep snow. We didn’t have snowshoes, so we couldn’t go any further.
My dad and I hunted in some non-traditional sections where you normally didn’t see buffalo. We found a spring, with a fence post where a buffalo had rubbed up against it. I tracked that buffalo to a point with a canyon all the way around it. The point had some big cover, and I thought the bull would bear its head there. So, instead of staying on the bull’s track, I did a half circle around the canyon to see if I could find tracks indicating that this 1000 plus pound bull had come out at that point. He’d left a pretty good trail when he moved. After scouting all the way around the point, I could tell that the bull hadn’t come out of that point. I started from the bottom of the draw and moved up the point where I thought the bull would be. When I reached the point, I found the beds still warm where that bull and another bull had bedded down. So, I followed their trails back to the spot where I first started tracking them. At a rock, I found where the bull had urinated. While looking at the rock, two bulls went running past me. I didn’t know what had spooked those two buffalo, because the wind was in my favor. Although I couldn’t get off the shot, I was happy to see buffalo after 8 days of hunting. I really wanted to get a better look at the two bulls. When they went off to the rim of the canyon, evidently they had seen my dad and a friend, I ran to the spot where they had gone down the ridge and spotted them going up the other side of the canyon, I thought to myself, “I sure would have liked to get a shot at that buffalo.” I had no more finished the thought when one of the buffaloes stopped on the opposite side of the canyon from me, turned, looked at me and then stopped below me in the bottom of the canyon.
Once I saw that the buffalo was comfortable on the side of the mountain, I took off my boots and ran about 400 yards in the snow. The bull came up out of the canyon by a juniper tree, 35 yards from me. As soon as I drew the bow, the buffalo looked at me. I had a small stick in front of me, preventing me from taking a good shot. So, I moved my bow to clear the stick, thinking that as soon as the buffalo moved forward, I’d release the arrow, and the path of the arrow would be right on the vitals of the bull when he stepped out. The bull leaned forward and started to take off, I released the arrow. My arrow passed through the bull’s shoulder and lodged in his shoulder. He ran a little distance and stopped. The only shot I had was a rear end shot. I aimed to the right side of the bull’s anus, and when the arrow struck, it cut an artery and went through the bull. The second shot was about a 50 yard shot. Although the first arrow would have put the bull down, anytime I can get a follow up shot, I always take it.
My dad and his friend were on an outcropping on the same side of the ridge as the bull. They were above the bull, and they only could see the bull’s left side. I’d shot him on his right side. So, they couldn’t see the entry point of the arrow, the first shot or the second shot. Now, they didn’t know where I was either, because I had left them when I started tracking the bulls. I started sneaking along to close the distance from the bull to possibly put another arrow in him. I heard, “Pssst!” Then I heard my name and a whistle. My dad asked, “You shot him, didn’t you?” I whispered back, “Yeah.” My dad whispered, “Now I can see the arrow in him all the way up to the knot. You’d better give him some time to go down.” I explained that I’d gotten a low shot on him with the first arrow. About that time, the bull crumpled. Since the road that separated the wilderness from the Forest Service land was nearby, all we had to do was pull up to the spot where the bull was to put him in the truck. The bull buffalo scored 132 4/8 inches, and he’s the world record buffalo taken on an all wild hunt with a bow.
PSE Pro Corky Richardson’s 1 In 200 Bull Elk
Tell us about a bull elk hunt, Corky.
I was hunting in Unit 10 on opening day of elk season. I found a group of bulls feeding on yellow flowers. This region had a dry year, and for some reason, these yellow flowers were really attractive to the elk. About 200 animals were in the herd, with about 60 nice sized bulls that sported branched antlers that were 5x5s or better. However, I really only wanted to take one bull. Several other hunters had found this herd, and they were taking some of the lesser bulls. I passed up 25 bulls before I finally got a chance to take the bull I saw on the eighth day of the hunt. Every day of the hunt, we had had elk around us. The night before I took this bull, he came in to within 10 yards. But because we didn’t have enough light for videoing, I chose not to take the shot. That night, he had all the points on his antlers intact. The next morning, we spotted him in wide open country – a big long basin with 40 cows in it. But he’d gotten into a fight and broken off 20 inches of his antlers. I dropped behind the hill into the next basin. My dad and I jogged for about 2 1/2 miles and then crossed over the ridge to see how far the elk had moved down the other basin. We looked and couldn’t see the elk. We were about to give up when I heard an elk bugle. I could tell the elk was coming toward us and we were still in front of him. We had to let 40 cows pass us without them seeing or smelling us, so that we’d have a chance at the bull. Finally, when the bull was in range, I started to draw, but the bull spotted me. I let the arrow go with my PSE Mach 12. The arrow struck true, and the big bull ran about 100 yards before he piled up. The bull scored 373 on Pope & Young. Because he went down in open country, we were able to drive right to him and load him up in the truck.
PSE Pro Corky Richardson and His Family Take Three Pope & Young Couse Bucks in 20 Minutes
Tell us about the three Pope & Young Coues bucks that you and your family took.
We’d set up trail cameras in an area to find some coues deer bucks. From our scouting and trail cameras, we knew that these deer moved the most between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. On the morning we were to hunt, I woke up with the flu and stayed in bed, while my son and my wife went hunting. At 8:30 am, I thought, “I can be sick in a tree stand as easily as I can be sick in the bed.” From my trail camera survey, I knew that a buck came by a particular tree stand site every other day at 9:30 am. I realized that this day was the odd day that the buck was supposed to come in to that area. I told myself, “Okay, he’ll be there at 9:20 am, and as long as I reach my stand before that time, I can take him.” I got in my tree stand and used my range finder to mark the range of five different places where I thought I could get a shot at the buck. Then I saw the buck standing about 25 yards from me. I picked up my PSE Mach 12 when the buck wasn’t looking, drew and made a hard shot. I loaded up my buck and went to pick up my son. He asked, “Dad, how did you know I’d taken a buck?” I told him that I’d just taken a buck and was headed back to see if he wanted to ride back with me. His buck scored 103 inches, and my buck only scored about 80 inches. When we picked up my wife Cindi, we learned that she’d taken a buck that scored 87 inches. Each one of us had made perfect shots, and none of the three bucks went more than 20 yards after the shot. To hunt with Richardson Guides/Outfitters, call 602 300 4408 or 602 237 3206.
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