I first became obsessed with this buck three days before my weeklong 2009 hunt in Kansas was going to end. I had seen several small bucks and a couple of nicer ones to that point, but none close enough for a bow shot. I had set up a stand at that spot early in the week and left it alone for a day and a half to allow any scent to dissipate.
It was Friday, Nov. 6, when I spotted the monster paralleling a fence line beside a cut bean field 600 yards distant. Because it was coming toward me and the wind was in my favor, I ran about 200 yards up to a corner and hid in some scrub brush with hopes it would stroll within range.
I peered through the brush while trying to catch my breath and saw the buck at 300 yards, still closing. My heart was racing as I watched it, and it sputtered when the deer jumped the fence and sauntered into cover. Since my only option at that point was to try to head it off, I also jumped the fence and worked my way around the point, hoping to intercept it.
Guessing the buck’s path, I crouched behind a cedar tree and some tall grass, keeping the wind in my favor. I waited anxiously, scanning the terrain for movement. After a couple of minutes that seemed more like hours, I decided to sneak a glance over my shoulder in case the buck had somehow strolled past me.
Much to my surprise, I saw a 6-pointer headed for my lap, and there was no cover between us. I remained motionless with my face turned away, hoping my camo and scent-control products would keep the buck from busting me.
A few moments later, I heard a sniffing sound and slowly turned my head. The 6-pointer had reached the fence about eight feet away.
I remained frozen as it started to walk along the fence, upwind of me, and then across the pasture back toward the woods. It stopped at the edge of the pasture, staring into the woods as though it could see or hear something. Then I heard another buck grunt in there before the 6-pointer disappeared into the trees.
I heard more grunting and scuffling afterward.
Rather than enter the woodlot to return to my stand, I reluctantly called it a morning. When I returned to the farm where I was staying, I told my buddies I’d seen a small 6-pointer and an onion buck.
“What the heck is an onion buck?” someone took the bait.
“A buck that would bring tears to your eyes,” I grinned.
Seeing the Onion Buck was all the motivation I needed. I was no longer just deer hunting; I was after a buck with a name.
I didn’t return to my spot that evening. I saw the same 6-pointer and a button buck the next morning — Saturday — along with another 6- and an 8-pointer. I rattled and grunted, but neither responded.
The Fat Lady Sings
We were supposed to leave for home after the Sunday morning hunt. I made my way to the stand at 6:00. The first hour and 10 minutes passed without incident.
I was considering getting down and crossing the ravine behind me to set up and try to intercept any bucks that might come that way, as the 3x3 and 8-pointer had done the previous day. But first, I thought I’d try a rattle-grunt sequence to see what might show. I rattled the antlers as loudly as I could and grunted in between pauses for about 20 seconds, and then I waited.
In less than a minute, I saw a buck jump the fence and start heading my way.
I thought it was the 6-pointer I had seen several times before, at first, but then I noticed it was an 8-pointer. When it was halfway across the pasture, I saw more movement behind it: the Onion Buck!
The big rascal jumped the fence and followed the 4x4. When the lead buck stopped directly under me, the Onion Buck stopped 45 yards away. Both were looking for the fighters they’d heard. Only I knew there weren’t any.
Just when I thought the window of opportunity was going to slam shut, the 8-pointer resumed walking, as did its big antlered buddy.
As the Onion Buck passed behind some overhanging branches, I drew my bow and waited for it to clear them. I grunted when it did, and the deer froze at 10 yards, quartering slightly toward me.
I leveled my pin in front of his left shoulder, at the base of his neck, and released the arrow. He did a split-second 180 and ran full-out away with my arrow protruding (it had stopped when the broadhead hit the opposite shoulder).
That’s when I came unglued.
Soon after I lost sight of the buck, I heard a crash. Or at least that’s what I hoped it was.
I got down from my stand, followed the trail for about 40 yards until I found good blood at an old fence line, and then I backed out of there. I went to the farm to change clothes and give the buck some time. When I got there, Luke and John were relaxing in the garage.
John agreed to help me search for my deer. When he asked how big it was, I told him I wasn’t leaving Kansas until I found it.
When we reached the old fence where I’d stopped earlier, John took one look at the blood and said, “Oh, we’re finding this buck for sure,” which lifted my spirits.
We’d barely covered 30 yards when John blurted, “There he is!”
When I saw the Onion Buck lying 15 yards from us, all I could do was stare. It’s as if I expected it to get up and run, though I needn’t have worried.
While John and I were admiring the deer, we heard a car door shut. Keith and Steve had arrived to help.
We took a few field photos, loaded the 203-pound (dressed weight) buck in the truck and drove up to Old Man Rice’s farmhouse to show it to him.
2009 was my fourth season to bowhunt in Kansas, but this was my first Sunflower State whitetail. If three seasons of passing up decent bucks was the price of admission to arrow one like this, it was well worth it!
Hunter: Duane Viet
Official Score: 178 7/8
Composite Score: 200 2/8
– Photos Courtesy of Duane Viet
This article was published in the Winter 2009 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.