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The Buck of a Lifetime! - Kansas, 2008


As a whitetail deer hunter now in my mid 40’s I have always hoped to have the opportunity to
find “The big One”. This hope and dream has been shared by friends, family, and hunting
partners for the last 30 years.

Growing up in West Central Texas the terms “Bullwinkle”, “PAPA”, and “The Hartford” have all
been synonymous with a deer that would fulfill that dream. The scale in which all these deer
have been judged against is the holy grail of the hunting world referred to simply as “The Book”.
Not a religious book in the Christian since, but worshiped all the same. This “book” is officially
known as the Boone and Crockett book of Big Game Records in which whitetail deer and other
big game species have the chance to be recorded. The minimum whitetail entry score for
“ Typical” is 170 inches and for “Non-Typical” is 185.My dream has been to harvest a whitetail buck
with the antler mass that would at least gross this minimum score. To harvest a specimen of this size
would complete my whitetail hunting career and fulfill a lifelong dream.

I am very fortunate that my wife and I own our own business so I get to spend a lot of time in the field.
My wife says that she doesn’t get to spend any time with me from November to mid January. Being in
the real estate business and specializing in recreational hunting properties, I also have a lot of properties
that I am allowed to hunt. These properties are owned by me, family, friends, and customers. I spend a
lot of the fall looking through a pair of binoculars trying to find, “The One”.

At my office, and at home, I have a variety of whitetail mounts that each have a detailed story of “How it
Happened” and kicks my blood pressure up to tell each and every one. These deer are all great
representations from the area in which they were harvested, but fall short of that elusive “Book”
minimum of 170 inches.

In 2007, I ordered a replica of a whitetail deer which scored 178 gross typical and netted exactly 170
inches. I wanted to have a set of antlers that I and my customers could see, feel, and touch, that was
large enough for the book minimum. We all hear people talk of large deer they have seen or harvested
that would meet these requirements, but when you are able to hold a 170” net typical in your hands, it
puts it all in perspective. It takes this moment for you to realize just how large a deer has to be to
accomplish this elusive goal.

In the spring of 2008 I had the distinct pleasure to do some business, and become friends, with a rancher
from Kansas. We were working in my office and the subject of deer came up. I ask him if he had any
hunters on his properties in Kansas or had it leased. His reply was no, but he would like to generate
some income from it if he could. He said it had been hunted by a few family members in the past but
know-one else. My question at this time was,”Do you have any good deer?” He looked at some of my
mounts on the office wall, turned in his chair toward the window in which I had the 170 inch net replica,
and said, “We have deer like that, but are heavier, and may be a little wider”. My heart stopped, this
person is not a deer hunter, just looked at a book deer, and implied he was “AVERAGE”!!!! He said he
had harvested one a few years back while gathering cattle that was probably a little bigger than that.
Then, he made a statement that was unexpected. A slight glint came into his eye and he said, “But we
have a BIG ONE”._______I didn’t even know how to respond.

My next question was if I could work out something for me and a partner to go hunting on their Kansas
properties. He said he would speak with his wife and let me know what they would be agreeable to do.
In a few days he came back to my office and we finished the details. In the interim I contacted the
Kansas Department of Wildlife and found out that we had to go into a drawing to hunt in the state. My
friend had properties in two different units so we sent in for one as our preference with the other as a
backup. When the drawing was complete we were surprised that we had been chosen for both units.
This would allow us to hunt any of the properties that they owned.

Kansas whitetail deer season opened on 12-3-08. This happened to be a Wednesday. On the Friday
before I met with the rancher, we pulled his properties up on satellite and made some detailed maps on
their locations. We shook hands, he said good luck, and I at least I knew what part of the state that I was
going. We had planned to take a horse trailer with living quarters to the ranch for the hunt. Just out of
curiosity I called a local motel to check on their rates. They charged $45/night for two twin beds and had
a continental breakfast to boot. Why take my trailer, I could stay at the motel and have heat and a

My partner and I decided we would leave on Monday, 1st, drive most of the way, and spend Tuesday
finding the properties and deciding how we would set up for the opening morning hunt. We drove to
the motel to unload some of our clothes and get mileage to the properties. When we got to the motel,
the office was closed, but there was a note taped on the door that said,”B. Davis, room #9 is yours, door
is open and key is on the T.V.” Talk about making you feel at home, these people treated us great! We
drove back to the county roads and continued to search for the properties. With good maps and
directions it didn’t take long. We drove by all three, looking at the satellite pictures, and got a feel for
the way the land layed out and spent most of the afternoon making plans.

At about 5:00 we drove by one of the properties and saw some deer on the edge of a small field next to
a large draw. As I looked across the field I saw antlers and realized I was looking at a very large whitetail.
I stopped and got out of the FJ to get my camera which was behind the seat. My partner had his
binoculars out and was looking at the buck. His gasp, “I can see at least 14 points”! I took three pictures
and decided that to get any good pictures I would have to put on my telephoto lens. While I am trying to
change the lens my buddy keeps saying how big this buck is. I get the telephoto on and take +/-20
pictures of the buck before he follows a doe down into the bottom. After the deer was gone we just set
there dumbfounded at what had just happened. We looked at the viewfinder in the camera, looked
through the pictures, and realized just how big the buck really was. Keep in mind, we hunt in central
Texas and our deer run around 130 pounds field dressed. When you see a trophy buck, he looks like he
is all horns. This deer was big but we didn’t even know how big at this time. The buck had a drop tine,
over 14 points, was wider than his ears, had mass, and was tall. There was no question what area I was
going to hunt, and if needed, for the entire 13 days of the Kansas season.

When we got to the motel I put the pictures on the computer and called my wife. The only thing that I
could think to say was, “I saw HIM!” My wife knew what I meant and started trying to settle me down
and let me know that I would find him again. The buck was with a hot doe and I told my hunting partner
that I probably had less than 24 hours to find him again before he moved to another area. This area of
Kansas is made up of properties in most cases less than 500 acres so the deer could easily move to
someone else’s property.

That night I couldn’t sleep and went over the map, over and over, trying to decide how to get back on
this deer. I knew that if I scared him, or the doe, I would move them off the property. My confidence
was not good that the buck would stay on the property we had been allowed to hunt. There was a
canyon which extended on other properties in both directions. I made a decision to make my way out to
a point on the canyon. This would give me the most area to view with glass, I could see both ways, have
the wind, and the sun would be behind me. Sounds good!! Then I watched the local weather and a
cold front was to come in that night, drop the temp to +/-20 degrees, and have winds up to 40 mph. I
would still have the wind in my favor but could make a long distance shot a lot harder. I tried to sleep,
and guess I did, because I went through the sequence of harvesting this buck all night.

We got to the pasture around 6:00 A.M. and set on the road outside the gate and waited on daylight.
We were at least an hour early, so we set in the car and enjoyed the heat. Outside you could hear and
feel the +/-40 mph winds rock the car. The temperature was in the high teens and my mind raced about
what we might find after light.

As it got light enough to see, we used our binoculars to scan the country for the buck. We were about a
quarter of a mile East of the draw in which we had seen him the previous day. The sun was still behind
the horizon when we were confident that we could move forward toward the canyon edge. We would
ease up five or ten yards at a time and make another survey with our binoculars. When we got about
half-way to the edge of the draw, I scanned the tree covered bottom that was just to our left. All the rest
of the canyon was open grass besides this 10-12 acres of heavy woods. This was where the buck has
headed before dark the day before, and where I was expecting to find him this morning. Multiple times I
had glassed the grass covered ridge that was in front of me and to my right. It seamed very open and
wasn’t a place that I would expect to find any deer with the cold wind blowing.

Just as the sun was breaking the horizon, I caught some a glimpse of light color across the canyon in the
tall blue-stem. As my brain focused on what it was, I realized it was the big buck!! He was laying
broadside looking at us at about 450 yards. I also saw the doe which we presumed that was in heat,
standing in the grass to his left. It always amazes me how deer can be in the open like that, and even
with experience, you can miss seeing them.

I have spent a lot of time at the range with my rifles and am very proficient out to extensive ranges. I
sight my hunting rifles in at 300 yards and practice out to 600 yards. It is common for us to shoot clay
targets out to 500 yards, and normally can shoot three shot groups at 600 of less than 6 inches. I bring
this up because in most situations to see this trophy buck at around 450 yards, and to have a tall by-pod
to get a good rest, I could take this shot with confidence. But, I had a couple of “Very” big problems. I
was very cold, was experiencing buck fever like I haven’t known since I was a kid, and was dealing with a
+/-40 mph direct crosswind. At this point I guess my emotions went into overdrive. I was within
comfortable shooting distance of the largest whitetail deer I had ever seen, alive or dead, and I didn’t
want to even consider missing the shot or running him off.

I made the decision that I was going to try to close the distance to the deer. I had the sun at my back,
and the crosswind to my advantage, but was on a grass covered hill and the deer were watching us. I
took a chance, that at the time made since, but could have cost me the chance at this tremendous buck.
I whispered to my partner that we were going to ease forward, straight at the deer, with as little
movement as possible. As the sun was trying to rise the deer would have to look directly into it to follow
what we were doing. Because the deer and I were each on our sides of the canyon, we were at about
the same elevation. I told my partner to watch the doe, I would watch the buck. They were only about
12 yards apart but there was no way either of us could concentrate on both. If the doe broke and ran,
the buck would follow, and they would probably run onto another property. I also new that if he ran, I
wouldn’t take the chance with a shot unless he stopped. He was already at a distance that I didn’t want
to have to try under the conditions.

I ranged the buck at this time at 445 yards. We moved forward and I whispered to my partner every so
often if she was acting OK. At one point he said, ”She’s moving her head”. We stopped and I re-ranged
them and we had closed the distance to 350. I got positioned and tried to put the crosshairs on the
deer’s shoulders. It was a descent hold but I was starting to breath very erratic from the excitement. My
partner grabbed me by the arm and said, “Bryan, settle down. You can do this.“ The buck seemed very
calm so I decided to get a little closer. As we moved forward we didn’t go far and my partner said, “She
took a step and looks nervous.” We stopped, I set up, took a range and it said, “310”. That was good
enough. I was going to give my 280 an 8 inch drift because of the crosswind. As soon as I had made this
decision the buck stood up and took two steps to the left. I placed the cross-hairs what I thought to be
around 8 inched to the right and set it off. When I shoot I concentrate on a spot that I am trying to hit.
When the recoil is received I normally am pushed off target and don’t get to see the hit but can hear the
“ Thump” of the bullet. Even in the strong wind, I heard it hit. I looked over at the other side of the
canyon and could see antlers sticking out of the grass and the white belly of this great deer. My first
thought was that the deer’s body must be small because at 300 yards the antlers were taller than the
grass? My partner put up his hand for a “High Five” and we were so excited that we missed each others
hands!! He said the deer had stood there for about two seconds after the shot and had wilted. I

We went back to my FJ and drove around to the other side of the canyon to where the deer lay. As we
drove up to him I started to realize how big he was. I did not realize the size of the bodies on these
mature Kansas bucks. I had compared his antlers in relation to his head and ears as if he was a normal
size deer. When I reached down and held the antlers of this magnificent animal, it was unbelievable!!
The antlers were far larger than I had ever imagined. At this instant, you could not imagine the euphoria
of emotion, when you realize that not only have you achieved a lifelong dream, but have blown it out of
the water!!

I was able to harvest this deer because of preparation and a whole lot of luck. I was allowed to hunt in
an area that had the potential to grow a deer of this caliber and to be at the right place at the right time.
If we wouldn’t have been on this place the day before, at exactly the right time, we would have never
know this buck was there. The morning I harvested the buck, what we didn’t realize at the time, was
that he was bedded on that ridge in a ditch that was over four feet deep. He was out of the wind,
hidden on a ridge that you wouldn’t think to look, was going to be in the sun for warmth, and could keep
an eye on his doe. When we eased up to that canyon to glass that morning, if we had been 20 yards
either right or left, we couldn’t have even seen him!!

As I shared this story of “How it happened” with my wife, she may have said it as well as it could be said,
“ It was like the stars aligned and you and that deer were destined to meet” All of my hunting and field
experiences allowed for the outcome that played out that morning. This confirmed to me that there is a
time and a place for everything and dreams do come true.

Buckmasters Composite Score of 232 7/8

33 total points

24 scorable points

24 ½ inch outside spread












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