Adam Hays, owner of the popular MoonGuide app, is no stranger to this space. We’ve profiled several of his amazing bucks, including three scoring 200 inches or more. Last week, Hays took another giant whitetail—a main-frame 9-point buck easily tops the gross typical score for the B&C record book. The Illinois bruiser fell on Friday, January 13th and just happens to be is Hays’s 13th Booner. And what does he credit his success to? Well, the moon, of course. But we’ll get to that. First, the buck.
Like many of Hays’ trophies, this buck was one he knew well. “The first pics we had of him were in 2020, when I figured he was 3½ years old,” he told F&S. “We actually had a shed from him from that year. But we considered him a pass-through deer; he lived primarily on a neighboring farm, and we’d just get the occasional pic of him from time to time, and almost all of them at night. Of course, he’d grown a bunch since that first season, and many hunters in the neighborhood were well aware of him.”
At first, all the trail-cam pics Hays had of the buck were at night. Adam Hays
Since the buck wasn’t a regular visitor to the farm he hunted, Hays didn’t spend a lot of time piecing together a game plan. “I was actually after another buck, and that one was quite a bit bigger than this deer,” he said. “But that target buck just disappeared. I have no idea if he was shot, or was hit by a car, or what. All I knew was that I needed to find another buck to hunt. Then on November 13th, I got a daylight pic of this buck for the first time of the season, and suddenly he had my attention.”
Hays got his first daytime pic of the buck on November 13 and started making a plan. Adam Hays
Hays didn’t feel like the buck’s daylight trek was a coincidence. “We had a red moon, directly underfoot, that day,” he said, referring to the top time to hunt according to his MoonGuide. “I had a couple dozen night pics of this deer, and I went back through the conditions of those days—wind, weather, anything I could think of—and compared them to the conditions on the day of the daylight pic. I could not find anything significant other than the moon position. So, like I’ve done with several of my other big deer, I looked for the next red moon and figured I better try for him in that period.”
Although Hays was scheduled to be at the annual Archery Trade Association (ATA) show, that event coincided with the next Red Moon on Hays’ calenda. “The Moon Guide has its share of skeptics, but I’ve only got my experience to rely on,” he said. “I was going hunting.”
Hays traveled from his home in Ohio on the 12th, ignored the ATA show, and was ready to hunt on Friday the 13th. “We had standing beans as a winter food plot, but the deer had pretty much eaten them to the ground by then. I had two tree stands I was ready to hunt, but the wind was dead wrong for them. My only choice was a Banks Blind that we never had a chance to put on a platform. It was just sitting on the ground on the edge of the food, but it was my only chance.”
Hays didn’t have long to wait for the action to start. One by one, deer filed out of nearby cover and into the plot until no less than a dozen different bucks were feeding in front of the blind when Hays spotted his target deer filing in. “I had a pretty dicey wind, plus there were just so many deer on the plot,” he said. “I’d kept the blind windows closed because I knew the minute I opened them, things would probably go downhill in a hurry. When the buck finally got in bow range, I opened the window, then bumped it against the camera mic. (Hays was self-filming for his Team 200 show.) Then I couldn’t get my release clipped on my string for the life of me. A couple of the bucks were getting ready to leave, and my buck was definitely on edge when I finally got the shot.”
Hays’ buck grossed 181 B&C as a main-frame 9-pointer. Adam Hays
Though he feared his hit was back a bit, Hays reviewed his footage back at camp and it looked like a good shot. That analysis proved correct, as he recovered the buck only 100 yards into the nearest timber. The heavy-antlered 5½-year-old sported 7-inch bases and had 12 scorable points, including a split brow and kickers off the G2s. “He grossed 181 B&C, which is pretty nice for a main-frame 9-point,” Hays said. “I honestly don’t care if people believe in the MoonGuide or not; but it’s the only reason I was in the blind to kill that deer on that day.”
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