Rack Magazine

Who Needs More Than Five Hours Sleep Anyway?

Who Needs More Than Five Hours Sleep Anyway?

By John E. Phillips

Arkansas gains a new No. 5 Typical in the BTR’s rifle category, and it’s the largest ever recorded from Jefferson County.

Then-16-year-old Kristian Vargas hadn’t planned to go deer hunting on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015.

“I’d gone to one of my school friends’ Sweet 16 party Saturday night and didn’t get home until about 1 a.m.,” said the kid from Altheimer, Arkansas. “Next thing I know, my dad (Luis) woke me up at 6:00.”

Kristian was far more interested in sleep than in shooting a deer, but he rose and slid into his hunting clothes, picked up his rifle and joined his father in the truck. He took comfort in knowing the outing would be mercifully short, since they had church that morning.

They were going just 5 miles from home.

As Kristian crawled into his treestand before sunrise, his thoughts were still more about his comfortable bed. That changed soon after daybreak, when he heard rustling in the CRP land in front of him and saw eight bucks and four does.

“Three of the bucks were 6-pointers, one was a huge 8-pointer, and one a 7-pointer,” Kristian said. “I made the decision to take the big 8-pointer. It was running a doe through thick brush, and the other bucks went over to see what it was doing.”

While this was happening, Kristian heard distant duck hunters going to war. The CRP he was watching extends to a levee that wards against the Arkansas River’s floodwaters. By late November, the winter migration of waterfowl from Canada lures plenty of duck hunters to the river.

All Kristian had to do was wait for the hot doe to lead the big 4x4 or another buck out of the brambles.

“I’d been sitting in the stand for two hours and realized I needed to leave to meet my dad and drive back to get ready for church,” Kristian said. “Suddenly, I caught movement off to my left and picked up my binoculars. I spotted the biggest buck I’d ever seen about 300 yards from my stand. Its 10- to 11-inch brow tines told me it was a monster.”

Agricultural fields where the local deer feed at night are on the other side of the levee. The deer usually return to the CRP to bed. The big buck was right on the edge of the levee and the CRP land, about to walk up the earthen wall and out of sight.

“I knew the 300-yard shot would be the longest I’d ever taken in my life,” Kristian said. “But I nervously squeezed my .243’s trigger, and I completely missed the buck.”

Not knowing exactly where the shot had come from, the huge whitetail never took a step, but it did turn and look in Kristian’s direction. Kristian had time to refocus, get his nerves settled down and prepare himself for a follow-up shot.

“When I squeezed the trigger the second time, the buck dropped,” Kristian beamed. “I’d been aiming for the shoulder. Later, I learned I’d shot in front of the shoulder and hit the deer in the neck. Since I was so nervous, I might have pulled the rifle off target. But my .243 did the number on that huge animal.”

At the second crack of the rifle, all the deer in front of Kristian began running, which took his attention off where his buck collapsed.

Kristian called his dad and said, “You have to come to this stand, because I’ve just taken a really big buck, and I need you to help me find it!”

Kristian remained in his stand for three reasons.

“I was sweating a lot. I was really nervous. And I wanted to direct my dad to where the buck was on the ground,” he said. “I kept pointing to the place where the buck had fallen. I was giving my dad instructions over my cell phone, but Dad couldn’t see the buck. Finally, I calmed down, got down out of my treestand and tried to walk straight to where I’d seen it fall.

“When I found the deer, I couldn’t believe how big it was. Once I put my hands on those antlers and started to count, I realized it was a massive 11-pointer.

“My dad told me, ‘You’ve just taken the biggest buck on this farm. The landowner and I have been hunting on this farm all our lives, and we’ve never seen a buck that big here.”’

Kristian’s dad shot a buck on the same property several years earlier. So they knew it was bigger than 150 inches, at least.

“My dad texted the landowner about the huge deer I’d just shot,” Kristian said. “The landowner texted back: I’m leaving church. I’ll meet y’all and help you load the buck. We took it home, caped it, and the landowner took the deer’s head to a taxidermist in Jackson, Arkansas, for me.

“A deer show was being held the following Monday, so I took my buck’s antlers and had them officially measured. I was shocked at the score. I was really glad my dad got me up out of bed and that those duck hunters were having a productive shoot.

“They spooked the big buck to come over the levee to where I could get a shot at it. Up until that time, I’d only taken does and one little 11-pointer. I didn’t really know what a big deer was until I took this one,” he said.

This article was published in the April 2017 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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