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Big Buck 411 Blog


Calvin Gustus

By Mike Handley

It took only a few seconds last fall for Calvin Gustus to decide he both loves and loathes bowhunting.

The 2012 archery season was the 55-year-old volunteer fireman's first, though he actually paid $50 for a bow in the mid-1980s. After shooting it a few times, he hung it up, forgot about it and, eventually, loaned it to his wife's brother. It took years for his son, Chad (now 31), to convince him that having more than 100 days to hunt is better than the few afforded riflemen in Kansas.

On Saturday, Nov. 17, just about the time Calvin was having serious doubts about his chances of seeing a decent deer within bow range, the biggest buck he'd ever seen strolled within 15 yards of his ladder stand. If it had been rifle season, he'd have smoked it. But squeezing a trigger requires far less movement than drawing a bow, and the deer was staring at him.

Unable to draw, the hunter from Geneseo, Kan., could only appraise the antlers and watch the animal walk out of his life. Afterward, he called Chad, who was hunting the (diagonally) adjacent quarter-section.

"I just seen a 20-point buck!" he stammered.

Chad and Calvin moved the stand that afternoon. They found a tree closer to the deer's trail, but the only way they could put it there was to leave off a section of ladder, which meant the stand would be only about 8 feet high. Chad didn't like the setup, but Calvin was overjoyed.

Four days later, on a cold Nov. 21, Calvin, Chad and Chad's son, Caleb, returned to the property. The plan was to sit until 8:30 or so, but Calvin spotted the familiar buck of his dreams in the adjacent pasture and wanted to stay all day. He called his son and asked him to pick up some root beer and doughnuts and to leave them at the road for him.

Soon after Chad arrived at the store, he missed a telephone call. When he'd finished shopping and the store was half a mile in his rearview mirror, the phone rang again. Calvin was on the other end, hyperventilating. He'd drilled the 20-pointer. The heart-shot buck managed to go 120 yards before realizing it was dead.

Calvin was among the first to bring a deer to be measured at the Monster Buck Classic in Topeka last month. Its BTR composite (true gross) score is 197 7/8 inches. The full story will be published in RACK magazine this fall.

Ashley Bugg Jon Baker Shawn Ouellette Steven Bauer Brian Deleon Bob Weber BTR

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