Lehighton’s Kovatch takes down prize buck
Greg Kovatch, Lehighton, downed a super buck while hunting near Jim Thorpe on public game lands. Kovatch scouts year round, and also pays the utmost attention to scent control. LISA PRICE/TIMES NEWS
When Greg Kovatch, Lehighton, isn’t hunting, he’s either scouting or planning for hunting. He hunts all public lands, using maps to study locations, and later verifying what the maps tell him by actually walking the area. In 2015, he shot an 11-pointer with a 25-½ inch spread.
He hangs trail cameras – this past season he had 14 cameras keeping an eye on things for him – and by the time the archery season rolls around he knows all the bucks in the chosen areas.
Well, maybe not all of them.
“Over the winter, I found an area where a big buck was spending time, hung a stand and didn’t go back in,” Kovatch said. “I wasn’t going to hunt it until the rut.”
“But then on opening day, there was a little cold front and a good wind for hunting that stand, so I went,” he added. “There was a buck in that area that I’d been after for three years, but every year he’d disappear when the season opened.”
The buck he saw that day was one he had never seen, or captured on camera.
“I didn’t see anything until 9 when he came out, and he was grunting with every step,” Kovatch said. “I was shocked at the size of his rack.”
Kovatch said he had to look away and tell himself to calm down before getting ready to take a shot. The buck was walking toward an opening which would present a shot at 20 yards. There were other possible shot opportunities, but Kovatch waited for the buck to get to the 20-yard opening.
“But for no reason, he just slowly turned,” he said. “I watched him walk away, and I didn’t think I would see him again.”
Two weeks passed. On Oct. 18, Kovatch saw that wind conditions would be right the next day to hunt the stand. Don’t forget the Halloween parade in Lehighton, his wife reminded him. Kovatch replied that if he got the buck in the morning, he’d be at the parade.
“I got in and settled by 5 a.m., and at daylight two bucks came by me,” he said. “Off to the left I saw movement and three does were running – they came right under the stand and a six-pointer came out too.”
“I heard grunting and I knew it was him,” Kovatch said. “Every step he took, he grunted, don’t know why, haven’t seen a buck do that.”
“He was coming so slow though, kept stopping and looking around,” he added “I wasn’t nervous – I had replayed our first encounter in my mind so many times.”
Kovach said he is very confident with his archery equipment, a Matthews Tri Ax bow and 85-grain Grim Reaper broadheads, set up for him at Andrews Archery, Frackville.
“He (Dave Andrews) is very knowledgeable and gave me a few pointers,” Kovatch said. “All the work, shooting and scouting, comes down to a split-second decision, and there’s so much that can go wrong.”
The first time he got a shot opportunity, which was at 30 yards, he took it. Within a few steps, the buck disappeared into a wall of pines and Kovatch couldn’t see it. He thought he heard the buck fall, but he wasn’t sure. He sat still in his stand for two hours.
“Once I climbed down from the stand, I could see him – there was no tracking,” Kovatch said. “I was blown away by the size of the rack.”
The 14-point buck hasn’t been officially scored, since a 60-day drying period is required before measurement, but preliminary measurements put the score in the high 170s.
Kovatch made it to the Lehighton Halloween Parade.
“I couldn’t do what I do without the support from my family,” he said. “It’s my only hobby, and I spend a lot of time with it.”