Rack Magazine

Down to the Wire

Down to the Wire

By Mike Handley

Two bullets, two years and two MONSTROUS bucks!

Folks who fill their single buck tags on opening day might not complain, but, if they’re honest about it, they’d rather be in a stand than spend the remainder of deer season moping around the house or hunting vicariously with whispering television hunters.

Tracy Atchison doesn’t have that problem. The 44-year-old railroad track supervisor from Kirwin, Kan., inevitably gets his deer right before the season’s final bell rings. And he’s apparently passing on that tradition to his kids.

This past year, for example, his 11-year-old daughter, Ashlyn, shot her very first deer, a doe, on the last day of the Sunflower State’s short rifle season. His 14-year-old son, Alex, arrowed his first buck with a bow on the last day of bow season. And Tracy, mirroring the accomplishment that put him in the pages of this magazine in 2010, burned his tag on the final day of blackpowder season.

The last time Tracy was in Rack, he’d smoked a very close runner-up to the Kansas state-record Irregular. This time, he’s not the bridesmaid. His most recent whitetail is a new No. 1 Perfect among specimens taken by Kansans bearing muzzleloaders.

It almost didn’t happen. And when it did, it was short, sweet and unexpected.

Because Tracy is admittedly picky and hadn’t seen or collected photographs of any bucks over which to obsess, he decided to dedicate most of the year to helping his daughter get a deer and his son shoot a buck with a bow.

On Oct. 3, the last day of blackpowder season, he decided to pay a visit to some new ground where a friend swore he’d seen a 200-incher.

“That’s the only reason I went,” Tracy said. “I had my doubts, but I figured I’d better check it out.”

He was there by 6 a.m., crossed the pasture and was standing at the head of a weed-choked draw half an hour later. The woolly ditch led to a u-shaped cornfield.

Soon after Tracy started into the quarter-mile-long cut with the wind in his face, a 150-class buck stood up in the tall weeds about 150 yards in front of him. Rather than run, it simply melted back into its bed.

Tracy had covered another 50 yards when a much bigger buck stood. The weeds were so high that the only thing the hunter could see was the top of the deer’s back, its neck and head. It occurred to Tracy that he might be looking at the alleged 200-incher, but he wouldn’t have sworn to it.

Down to the WireHe really didn’t think at all. He just pulled up, aimed at its neck and squeezed the trigger. Afterward, he saw two bucks running away, and he wondered how on earth he could’ve missed at that distance. He didn’t have a lot of experience with that muzzleloader, since that was only the second time he’d hunted with it, but 100 yards should’ve been a chip shot.

Tracy looked for signs of a hit anyway, looping through the weeds. And just when he was about to write off the incident as a miss, he saw his dead buck — 20 yards from where it had been standing when he squeezed the trigger. There had been three bucks bedded there, and the one he shot had crawled in the opposite direction its bunkmates had run.

He rough-scored the 5 1/2-year-old buck’s antlers in the field and came up with a gross of 180 inches, which was actually more than four inches low. The rack is a mainframe 5x5 with an 11th irregular point that measures 1 1/8 inches. Thus, because the irregularity comprises only .6 percent of the crown’s official BTR score, it falls into the perfect category.

The curved P-2 makes it look less than perfect, but less-than-straight points aren’t included in the criteria for classifying racks.

With 163 4/8 scoreable inches of antler (not including the 20 5/8-inch inside spread), Tracy’s buck is a new state record. The number to beat was 158 3/8, a deer taken in 2009 by David Prine in Kingman County. Prine’s short-lived record surpassed the previous one by 15 inches.

Hunter: Tracy Atchison
BTR Official Score: 163 4/8
BTR Composite Score: 184 1/8

— Photos Courtesy of Tracy Atchison

This article was published in the July 2011 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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Copyright 2018 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd