"Thanks, old man." No, I wasn't talking to my father, but to the white-tailed buck I'd just harvested. As I knelt down next to the remarkably massive animal, I couldn't believe that I'd just killed the biggest white-tailed deer of my life! The buck had been a worthy adversary, but I'd finally prevailed.
During the last weekend of the 2004 Kansas hunting season, I was out doing some chores with my father and our friend, Mike. We were all dressed in blaze orange in the event that we happened to stumble onto a good buck and had just pulled into the edge of one of our fields when suddenly, a huge buck jumped up. Surprised and caught completely off guard, I tried to get out of the truck in time for a shot, but by the time I got out, the buck was more than 100 yards away and on a dead run. The Winchester lever-action .30-30 Win. I was shooting had open sights and held seven shots, and as I levered them through one-by-one, each found a way to miss its mark. The sight of that large buck high-tailing it over the ridge had taken its toll on me and buck fever definitely began to sink in.
Work kept me busy for the first part of the 2005 hunting season, but I finally got a chance to get back into the woods during the last weekend of the season. On Dec. 10, 2005, I rolled out of bed around 9:30 a.m. and drove to my buddy Trevor's house. We both piled into my truck, rifles in hand and blaze orange on our backs. This time I was carrying a bolt-action .243 Win., which I figured would be good out to 300 yards.
The place we went to was where I'd missed the big buck a year before. We looked around for a while, but didn't see anything. As we made our way back to the truck, Trevor suddenly pointed to my left.
"That is a huge buck!" he said. He was right, the buck we were looking at was a monster. I went straight for my rifle and as I tried to get a good bead on the buck, he ran into a draw on the other side of the road.
As Trevor and I made our way to the draw the buck had ran in to a doe ran up the hill just in front of me, and right behind her was the buck! I raised my rifle and as the gun went off, the buck continued to run, showing no signs of being hit. At 300 yards, I shot again and the buck collapsed.
"I got him! I got him!" I yelled to Trevor. I'd made a 320-yard shot on the buck, and Trevor and I made it across the pasture and to the buck at an Olympic gold medalist's pace!
After taking pictures and field-dressing the buck, we headed back to the truck. As we made our way back to ranch headquarters, I couldn't help but look in the rearview mirror. All I could see was the buck's antlers towering over the bed of the truck.
This buck was truly the buck of a lifetime. After the 60-day drying period, his antlers grossed 1822/8 B&C points, while netting 1712/8. He'll always remain in my mind as the buck that almost got away!