Two weeks ago I had the incredibly good fortune to take a world class buck in the Sunflower State. In over 25 years of hunting, I’ve never had the luck and circumstance to have an opportunity at taking such an animal—here is the story:
On the 20thof September, I was checking my trail cameras and discovered the presence of a huge non-typical deer on my lease in Northeast Kansas. He was quickly named “DUDE” as that was all anyone could say when looking at the picture.
I only got one other picture of him, on the 5thof October, hitting some Extreme Whitetail Solutions Big Buck Mineral. I’ve had lots of pictures of good bucks over the years, but over 90% of those bucks never made an appearance…until this year.
I took to the stand on Veteran’s Day Weekend with my teammate, Dave Ruiter. The first day was unseasonably hot, so we did some in season scouting to confirm a hunch I had about a particular ridgeline adjacent to a CRP field and a freshly cut cornfield below. We were both amped to find the ridgeline completely torn up with scrapes and rubs. Quickly hanging a set, we would hunt it as soon as the hot weather passed.
Dave and I took the stand 2 days later. With temps in the 20’s, the conditions were set. As the sun broke the horizon, the action started. 7 bucks in the span of 4 hours. One 140’s class bruiser with only half a rack stood broadside at 5 yards–taunting both of us. We kept telling each other that things happen for a reason.
Just before noon, we were thinking about climbing down so Dave could take his son for an evening sit. We were watching a bedded doe and shooting the bull when Dave froze and said “DEER!”
I turned to see a 150” 10 point homing in on our bedded doe. We had no time to react. I grabbed my Elite, drew and touched the release just as the buck entered a small opening 30 yards away. The arrow flew true—until the last 10 feet, skipping off an unseen twig and shaving some hairs off of his back.
I wanted to unhook my Hunter Safety System and jump out of the tree. I hadn’t seen but this one shooter all season. Dave tried to console me, but his words fell on deaf ears. Things happen for a reason–I thought.
I hunted that night with only one small buck that showed itself. Dave would be unable to film for me the next day, so I decided I would hunt and film solo…not the preferred technique, but I didn’t want any of my vacation days and awesome weather to go to waste.
The next morning I headed in early so I could get the camera equipment set up and let things settle. The wind was perfect. The woods were still. You could hear a pin drop.
As soon as dawn broke, the action once again started. 3 does appeared behind me, dogged by a little forkhorn. A small flock of turkeys worked their way by. Spooked, they jumped into the trees around me and proceeded to putt for 45 minutes. On the edge of my sanity from the ruckus, I heard a branch snap 80 yards away. As I pulled my Nikons to my eyes, I had to pull them away and look again. The DUDE buck was on the ridge.
As I settled the camera and rehearsed the scenario in my mind, I worried that he wouldn’t come by. He was definitely on his own agenda. I grunted with my Primos’ BuckRoar and snort wheezed. The most reaction I could manage was an occasional head turn—he was the biggest deer on this farm and seemed to fear nothing.
He moved along at a snail’s pace, taking a few steps, stopping. Enough to drive a hunter insane. My heart was working overtime. I had to just tell myself to keep trying and be ready. 45 minutes later it happened.
I heard a crash, followed by a train of 9 does moving directly toward my stand. They stood directly underneath my tree for over a minute. A bit uneasy from the scent of my Code Blue Drag rag suspended from the bottom of the tree, the pod of flatheads moved off. The DUDE buck didn’t like this, and began to move my way.
I arranged the camera, framed the buck in my shooting lane, grabbed my Elite and shot in a span of 10 seconds. I don’t really remember it. I remember my arrow streaking home when AGAIN it was deflected by a twig. Only this time it hit the deer high in the shoulder, the Rage Extreme punching the Easton Bloodline arrow completely through him.
The buck only ran 40 yards, then stopped. I strained through the Nikons to identify the hit. Blood was streaming down his side, but he acted almost like a liver hit deer. His tail was down, and he looked up, then down, up, then down. After about a minute he ambled off.
I waited the longest hour of my life. It was very tempting to get after this monster, but I knew I had to back out. Sometimes a single lung hit deer will travel a ways—didn’t want to push him onto adjacent property, so I went and found my arrow and marked first blood. I was heartened by the wide spray of red, but still nervous. Didn’t want to get my hopes up.
I returned later that evening with Dave in tow. We found the first blood and trailed the great buck another 50 yards where he lay. He had bedded down only 40 yards from first blood and expired at some point after. No blood from the nose, so we surmise the Rage cut the artery below his spine. Crazy.
He has the most amazing headgear I’ve ever had the privilege of holding. Subject to official scoring after the 60 day drying period, he will have 21 scoreable points and in excess of 200” of hard antler. We estimate he was between 8 and 9 years old, but will have him aged by a biologist soon. I will have an extremely difficult time ever finding or taking a better whitetail deer—but that won’t stop me from trying!
Countless hours of scouting, chigger bites and poison ivy have paid off huge for this happy hunter. When you have to work for every facet of taking a trophy, killing a monster whitetail is all the sweeter. That’s what Working Class Whitetails is all about!