By Jill J. Easton
When a man’s tectonic plates shift, only a giant whitetail can stop the quake.
It was a predicament that, sooner or later, everyone who spends time hunting will face. Jason McKenzie’s brush with it came on Dec. 1, 2012.
We’re talking the call of nature.
Jason had crawled into his blind before sunup that morning. It was one of those bone-chilling, freezing-cold days that come complete with winter winds in Kansas. Most locals expect and are prepared for that, but Jason, who’d driven up from Shongaloo, La., hadn’t built up the resistance to cold that Midwesterners have. Plus, his thin pop-up blind didn’t offer much in the way of protection.
There were only a couple of days left on his first Kansas hunt, and Jason hadn’t seen a deer worthy of a bullet since the hunt began on Nov. 28.
Should he leave the blind for a few minutes and possibly spook the colossal buck that had been reported by bowhunters the previous week? Or should he try to tough it out?
He knew full well that circumstances can change in a moment’s notice — or without notice — in the Land of Giants.
“The problem with hunting those Kansas fields is there are so many places for deer to go for food and so few places for hunters to hide,” he said. “The deer travel far and fast up there. Even though those bowhunters in the same vicinity saw a goliath a week earlier, that didn’t mean the deer was still within miles of there.”
Jason was hunting on family land next to a big cornfield and some overgrown CRP land. His blind was nestled in some bushes, and he had a good view of most of the huge field.
Eventually, he had little choice in the matter of answering the call.
Before sneaking out of the blind, he looked 360 degrees. No deer were visible from any of the windows.
Chances were, he wouldn’t spook anything during the minutes he was outside.
Jason left the blind, looking for a convenient bush. Luckily, he had the good sense to take his gun and shooting sticks with him.
As he topped a rise by the field, three does jumped up at 275 yards. And then a buck stood.
“I forgot all about getting to that bush,” Jason said. “All I could see was this monster buck out there, wearing the tallest set of antlers I’d ever seen. Even at that distance, I could tell there were points sticking out in every direction.”
When the buck started running away, Jason, fearing he’d blown his chance, dropped, backed into a briar bush and got his gun into position on the sticks.
“The gun was vibrating against the shooting sticks, I was shaking so badly,” Jason said. “I got off a shot, though, and the buck went down. Then it stood up again and took off running toward the CRP. There wasn’t a chance for a second shot.”
The buck disappeared into the distant weeds.
Jason couldn’t stand the suspense. He had to know if he’d done serious damage with his hurried shot. He had to go out there and check out the location where the buck fell.
“That was just too much pressure. I had to see how badly that mind-blowing deer was hit,” Jason said. “I took off running across that giant field full of stubble and didn’t stop 'til I covered the distance.”
Even out of breath from his rough run and still shaking, Jason could see there was enough blood to indicate the buck was seriously injured. He breathed a heartfelt sigh of relief.
That’s when his cell phone began buzzing like a swarm of bees were inside it. His brother James, who was hunting nearby, had heard the shot and then saw the does run past his stand.
“James asked if I’d shot some little buck,” Jason said. “I told him to get over to my stand. I needed a search party. He came, and we gave the buck time before we started looking.”
The search was short. The buck had ventured only a few yards from the edge of the field.
“When I calmed down enough to look, the deer was even more impressive than when it was half a field away,” Jason said. “The antlers were heavier and higher than I thought, and there was a forest of points I hadn’t been able to see from the distance.”
Looking closer, Jason made a somewhat depressing discovery.
“Evidently, the monster had been a fighter. Five points were broken off, and there was a hole deep enough in one to stick in a finger. The hole was 1 1/2 inches wide and an inch deep,” Jason said.
“If the old boy had been a little less aggressive, it would have been a world-class buck,” he added.
Few would call it anything less, as is.
After they found it, the brothers and a friend spent some time celebrating and looking at Jason’s prize. They took some photographs before loading it.
“Funny thing,” Jason said. “Now I can’t remember if I ever made that pit stop.”
Hunter: Jason McKenzie
BTR Score: 216
– Photos courtesy Jason McKenzie
This article was published in the September 2014 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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