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Long Live Maxximus

Carla Schartz

Kansas bowhuntress re-prioritizes after the king is dead

By Carla Schartz

For 423 days, my husband Lance and I observed a whitetail buck we'd nicknamed Maxximus. Before our eyes, it transformed from a velvet-antlered buck with potential into a true Kansas giant.

This beast of a buck had over 230 inches of massive bone atop its head and too many points to count. 

Lance and I are avid bowhunters and anticipated the epic celebration we knew would follow after one of us stuck the legendary buck.

What we didn't anticipate, however, was our neighbor legally taking Maxximus a mere 300 yards west of where my husband sat in his treestand.  

News travels fast in our world, and we were informed of Maxximus' demise a short time later.

At first, our minds were flooded with shock, anger and denial. This uncontrollable tidal wave of emotion made us question every action we'd made that season. All we could ask ourselves was "why?" and "what could we have done better?"

But upon seeing a photo of the hunter with his trophy, we knew closure could only come after we made a phone call to congratulate the happy man.

After that, only one remedy remained to cure this type of anguish. We headed back to our sanctuary in the woods with bows in hand.   

Hope for seeing another giant like Maxximus was all Lance and I had left, but we were exhausted and doubtful, and knew the odds of seeing another buck the size of Maxximus were slim.

2013 was turning from a season of anticipation into trying to salvage a season of failure!

But less than 24 hours after Maxximus was gone, Lance was reminded of why he loves our sport of bowhunting. 

He made a fantastic 25-yard shot on a massive buck that was chasing a doe past his stand. Although one of its main beams was broken off, Lance couldn't be more proud of his 160-incher, which scores far less than Maxxiumus, and is a true trophy in his eyes.

After Lance's success, I was optimistic and took my turn in the shooter's seat a day later. 

Still, I subconsciously compared each buck that walked by our stand to Maxximus. To my surprise, those thoughts quickly vanished when I heard the sound of another approaching buck. 

With the sun shining through the trees, Lance pointed to the east where I caught a glimpse of a beautiful rack. 

Reaching for my bow, with heart pounding and legs shaking, I watched the magnificent creature make its way down the trail toward me. 

At the time I was unaware that I was tangled in my safety harness and unable to draw my bow when the buck was only 20 yards away.

Again, failure, I thought. 

After I got untangled, re-nocked my arrow and truly settled back in, I found myself making the best 30 yard shot of my life. THWACK!

Adrenaline flooded my body when my arrow disappeared in the ten-ring.

My husband and I shared fist pumps, high fives and the feeling of accomplishment that soon followed the shot.

As I phoned our two little girls to share the news, every ounce of me was filled with excitement!We'd done it, and to top it off, Lance captured the entire hunt on film. 

But wait ... were we successful? We hadn't taken Maxximus, so was this season a failure? 

For days I'd been consumed by a number. A score. Those things were what I'd believed made a successful hunter and hunt.

For days I'd forgotten the real reasons why I hunt.  

As I grabbed Lance's hand and we walked over to recover my buck that only scored in the mid-140s, I beamed with happiness!

I suppose I should thank Maxximus for teaching me a very valuable lesson. 

So, ask yourself, when it comes to being a successful hunter, does size really matter?

Author's Note: Lance and I would like to extend a special thanks to Mark and Matt Royer.

Schartz Bow Season 2013-Kansas Video:

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