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EHD Claims Biggest Whitetail of 2012

Some of you might've seen photographs of the (gross) 316-incher shot in Indiana last season, a buck we're hoping to measure for "Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records."

Or you probably saw the 309-incher from Iowa that HAS been scored for our record book, a deer we posted on Facebook last weekend.

Neither, however, was the largest to hit the dirt in 2012.

'Twas a tiny female fly — not a bullet, broadhead or Buick — that brought down the largest antlered (wild) whitetail in North America last year. And it might have gone undiscovered had a Kansas man not taken a stroll along a creek bank in search of the buck that had dropped off his nephew's radar.

The deer, while alive, was a well guarded secret within the family. Even now, few people have had the pleasure of ogling its rack.

Photographed regularly by trail camera until late summer 2012, the buck with unfathomable antlers (in velvet at the time) simply disappeared. Clearly, it was either dead or had switched zip codes.

Considering that numerous deer throughout the Midwest succumbed to epizootic hemorrhagic disease last year, and since bucks in velvet rarely seek greener pastures unless pressured, it wasn't difficult to connect the dots.

The deer, in fact, was dead, lying next to the creek with no holes in it — an almost sure sign that it died from contracting EHD. Even more convincing is that the skull and 55-point rack weigh almost nothing; having never reached the dense hard-antler state.

An official BTR score of 315 makes it the largest free-ranging buck ever recorded from Kansas, fifth-largest in the world, and it's No. 3 among the world's biggest pickups, second only to the Barnacle and Hole in the Horn bucks. Its composite score (with the inside spread) is 330 7/8 inches.

The rack's most outstanding feature, other than its 55 scoreable points, is its mass: 67 4/8 inches in circumference measurements. That's nearly 30 more than the Hole in the Horn Buck carries.

Before anyone cries foul, the deer is legit. It wasn't poached. It isn't an escaped breeder buck. The property owner has numerous trail camera photographs of the animal. The man who found it, uncle to the young hunter who set out and monitored the cameras, has a salvage tag issued by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Boo-yah and the Boy

When Laura Fischer answered her phone on the morning of Sept. 8, she didn't expect to hear her 9-year-old son's voice.

"Boo-yah's dead!" squeaked Cade, her youngest.
"Really?" she asked, doubtful, fully aware that the men in her life possess a peculiar sense of humor.
"Really," came the confirmation.

"REALLY?" she asked again, her tone implying a raised eyebrow.
"REALLY!" they replied - they being Cade and his father, Ryan.
"The whole really-really thing has become a regular catchphrase with us, sort of a comedy routine," she laughed. "So it took me a minute to realize they weren't joking."

From the get-go, however, Laura knew exactly what "Boo-yah's dead" meant: the demise of a buck she knew all too well from trail camera photographs. She'd even seen the distinctive animal once on the hoof from behind the wheel of her vehicle.

The Fischers have two sons, Cade and 11-year-old Caleb, both smitten with deer hunting. Caleb has shot two great bucks, the biggest a 174-incher from their own 80 acres in 2011, which is why his little brother had dibs on the first buck during the 2012 youth season.

When the nine-day season opened that Saturday, Ryan and Cade were sitting on stools inside a ground blind that resembles a hay bale on Laura's parents' 40 acres near Williamsburg, Kan.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Bowhunting Gains a Convert

It took only a few seconds last fall for Calvin Gustus to decide he both loves and loathes bowhunting.

The 2012 archery season was the 55-year-old volunteer fireman's first, though he actually paid $50 for a bow in the mid-1980s. After shooting it a few times, he hung it up, forgot about it and, eventually, loaned it to his wife's brother. It took years for his son, Chad (now 31), to convince him that having more than 100 days to hunt is better than the few afforded riflemen in Kansas.

On Saturday, Nov. 17, just about the time Calvin was having serious doubts about his chances of seeing a decent deer within bow range, the biggest buck he'd ever seen strolled within 15 yards of his ladder stand. If it had been rifle season, he'd have smoked it. But squeezing a trigger requires far less movement than drawing a bow, and the deer was staring at him.

Unable to draw, the hunter from Geneseo, Kan., could only appraise the antlers and watch the animal walk out of his life. Afterward, he called Chad, who was hunting the (diagonally) adjacent quarter-section.

"I just seen a 20-point buck!" he stammered.

Chad and Calvin moved the stand that afternoon. They found a tree closer to the deer's trail, but the only way they could put it there was to leave off a section of ladder, which meant the stand would be only about 8 feet high. Chad didn't like the setup, but Calvin was overjoyed.

[Read the rest of this article...]

Second Chance in Illinois

A 24-year-old welder from Abingdon, Ill., made short work of dispatching a deer on Nov. 4, but it took the avid bowhunter more than two hours to realize it.

Matt Ford might've pursued the deer earlier, but his stepfather, who was hunting nearby, hadn't carried a cell phone to the woods. Rather than ruin his host's afternoon hunt, Matt remained in his stand, cursing his luck.

Prematurely, I might add.

The hunt began with a 250-yard walk through a Knox County cornfield to reach a narrow draw where Matt had seen some massive rubs. As soon as he was aloft about 3:40, he heard what sounded like antlers hitting saplings.

Moments later, he saw a buck approaching from about 70 yards distant. The left side of its rack was clipping trees and brush.

Matt loosed an arrow when he thought the deer was at 25 yards, but he'd misjudged the distance. It was actually 35, and the arrow sailed underneath the buck.

Fortunately for Matt, who wasted no time in nocking a second arrow, the buck heard the first one hit behind it and actually came down into the draw and closer. When it stopped again, it was at 15 yards.

When Matt released a second time, the buck was standing between two trees and looking at him. The only target was its neck, an iffy shot that he took anyway.

[Read the rest of this article...]

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