Photo: Mike Walters’ public-land Missouri buck is a tremendous mainframe 4x6 with 10 small extras. Even without the junk, the rack would’ve had a composite (true gross) score of nearly 184 inches. With them, it registers 208 5/8. But Mike was smiling long before he knew the numbers!
Watching deer graze near the runways of the Kansas City International Airport is a bit like being a spectator at a bowling match, only more fun.
Mike Walters was keeping score on Nov. 11 from a treestand within 70 yards of the airport fence. It was his first time to bowhunt that spot, and he loved it. In seven hours aloft, he saw probably 200 deer.
Most of the whitetails were on the airport property, but he liked watching them anyway.
“Whenever planes took off, it didn’t faze the deer. But when one landed close enough, the wash of the jet engines would roll them,” laughed the 43-year-old auto worker from Independence, Mo.
A coworker at the Ford plant told Mike about the managed hunt at the nearly 800-acre, city-owned Tiffany Springs Park. He even told him about a place near the airport where he’d taken a nice buck.
The urban archery hunt was one of five supervised by the Missouri Dept. of Conservation in 2011. Resident bowhunters must apply for the limited slots, are required to take a bowhunting safety class beforehand, and selectees are encouraged to shoot does, using their regular state tags.
Both Mike and his wife, Paula, were drawn for Tiffany Springs, where the hunt was scheduled for Nov. 7-30.
On Monday, Nov. 14, Mike got the jump on Paula. She had to drop off their youngest child at school, so he made the 45-minute drive alone that morning.
He was up the climbing sticks and sitting in his strap-on stand, 100 yards off a main road, early. He’d flagged the area (as required, since the park is also open to hikers) and erected the stand a week before the hunt opened. He’d chosen that area upon his friend’s recommendation, plus there was a heavily used deer trail skirting the hill between his stand and the road.
At 9:00, he rattled and grunted up an 8-pointer. After letting it go along its merry way, he decided it was time to get down and meet his wife.
He’d just lowered his bow to the ground when he heard the rustling of leaves and saw a doe, and the Walters do not pass up a chance at meat for the freezer. Also, from the way she was acting, Mike suspected a buck might be behind her. So he pulled up his bow and did some more rattling and grunting.
Not long afterward, he heard the sound of heavier footsteps, and then the buck arrived. Mike tried rattling again, but the whitetail paid no mind to the antlers’ notes; it followed the doe.
Knowing his wife would be arriving soon, Mike contacted Paula and told her not to come to his stand, that he’d go to her.
When he surmised the doe and buck were not apt to come back, he began lowering his bow again. Of course, that’s when the doe and her boyfriend returned. He pulled it back up posthaste.
The deer were 75 yards away, so Mike — who was coveting a rifle at that point — rattled to get the buck’s attention. That time, it worked. And as the buck drew near, Mike got the Elvis leg. He hadn’t noticed all the kickers and sticker points on the antlers until then.
“I’ve been hunting 25 years, and that was my first real taste of buck fever,” he said. “I had it bad, too!”
The buck came all the way to the dry creek bed near Mike’s stand, not far from a Tink’s scent bomb he’d set out, and when it passed behind a tree, Mike drew his bow.
“All I could think about was the two deer I’d lost earlier in the season,” he said. “I thought, ‘Please, Lord, don’t let this deer run off into the sunset.’”
When he released the arrow, the deer was only five steps from his tree. The buck might have run 40 more before collapsing.
“I was shaking so badly, my fingers wouldn’t work,” Mike said. “I couldn’t text my wife, so I had to just call her.”
Paula thought her husband was speaking in tongues when he telephoned. And later, when he was counting the points to tell her how big it was, when he messed up and had to start over when he reached 16, she thought he was lying.
It was almost noon before they got out of there, and Mike wasted no time in carrying his prize to a taxidermist.
The Walters normally process their own deer, and they do a bunch. Paula hunts somewhere almost every day. They took this animal, however, to a meat locker.
“That thing cost me almost $400 — $393 to be precise — to have processed,” he said. “I got three-quarters of it done in summer sausage, 35 3-pound rolls; the rest was ground into burger, which yielded 40 1-pound packages. It was a big deer (probably 265 pounds on the hoof, if 20 percent of the yielded meat was added fat).”
When Mike arrowed an 11-pointer in the park a week later, which also earned a free ride to the taxidermist, they butchered it at home.
Hunter: Mike Walters
BTR Official Score: 189 1/8
BTR Composite Score: 208 5/8
— Photos courtesy of Mike Walters This article was published in the November 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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