This is my biggest buck to date. He was taken on November 3rd, 2003. 2003 was the first year Bayes and I looked into hunting the public land on Ft. Riley. We scouted hard the summer before, walking miles and miles of excellent whitetail habitat all suddenly accessible to us. We printed off a series of aerial photographs and taped them together on our wall to create one big map of the area we would be hunting. That summer we found over 20 treestand locations which we trimmed the shooting lanes for. We would carry in our climbing tresstands to any of these 20+ spots marked on our map. Part of our plan was to limit the pressure on our best spots until the big boys were more likely to be on their feet during the daylight. We divided the stand locations into 3 categories: burnout stands, pre-rut stands, and rut stands. While all of our stand locations looked "good", we knew some would be better than others due to the fact that it was a public area and a lot of our spots were along field edges allowing easy access for the public. These we called burnout stands. Those early October afternoons when we just had to get out and try a hunt, these were the places we could go. The next category was pre-rut stands. We allowed ourselves into these stands starting October 20th I believe. These stands were in places we felt like we were a little more likely to get a shot at a big buck. This took care of our remaining locations, except for our two favorites. We each picked a favorite stand that the other guy would stay away from. And neither of us would sit our "rut" stands until November.
I saw very few deer that year during October. Our burnout stands were just that, burned out. I couldn't wait until November to sneak into my favorite stand. I finally got my chance the morning of November 3rd. I had class that morning, but a cold front had just moved in and I was going deer hunting. I strapped my climber on my back and walked in the mile and a half to where I thought my stand was. It was dark and I realized I was lost. I didn't recognize anything and was just walking around aimlessly scaring off every deer in the country. As dawn broke I could finally see enough to find my stand, I really wasn't that far off. I climbed up my tree and waited. It was a beautiful overcast morning with a slight drizzle every now and then. It wasn't long until I saw a small buck bird-doggin' a doe around the CRP about 100 yards away from me. As I was watching the action, I heard the leaves crunching to my right as a doe was trotting along the ridge towards me with a big buck in tow. I don't know if they caught my wind or what, but the doe froze and looked right at me before turning down another path out of my shooting range. About fifteen minutes later I was standing up looking around when I looked back into the thick trees to my left and caught the right side of an antler. I could count five points and knew it was bigger than anything I had shot before, so I nocked an arrow and got ready for a shot. When the deer finally stepped out of the trees it was further off than I anticipated and it was quartering away, getting further by the second. I had to wait for it to clear a big tree before I had an open shot. I guessed it to be over forty yards away by the time I could finally shoot, and I thought it was too far and nearly let down my draw. But then a "what have you got to lose" attitude came over me and I put the buck's back rib right between my forty and fifty yard pin and let fly. To my amazement I watched the arrow bury ino the buck's side. The fletching looked pretty far back and I watched the deer run up a hill with its tail down. As it neared the top of the hill I thought I saw it starting to wobble then I saw it's rack disappear. Either it went over the hill or fell down, I couldn't tell. I waited until I stopped shaking before climbing down and walking back to the truck. I wasn't going to push this deer, plus I was gonna need some help getting this thing back to the truck over a mile away. When I got home I got ahold of a few naive buddy's and they came back on the search with me. Double-wide spotted the deer's white belly fur on the side of the hill before we even got back to the place of impact. The three of us walked up to the buck and were all amazed. I knew it was bigger than my first buck, but had no idea it was this big! After I field dressed it, Ben and I each grabbed an antler and started pulling. This thing was heavy! We all rotated on drag duty until we got the buck to the end of a long cut bean field. I decided I could drive my truck in that far so I did. For their efforts Ben and Double-wide were treated to a delicious Sirloin Stockade buffet on me. I got a deal.
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