By Mike Handley
Danny's buck isn't eligible for the B&C record book. With only one day remaining in the mandated, 60-day drying period, a cat knocked them off a shelf, breaking the skull plate. Since the BTR requires no drying period and inside spread isn't factored into the official score, the broken skull isn't an issue. Photo Courtesy of Danny Salmon
When the scantily dressed man dropped his children off at the bus stop on Nov. 8, the school bus driver knew better than to ask questions. While the sight of a man in his underwear and flip-flops cruising past a gaggle of youngsters might alarm most adults in Tonganoxie, Kan., the driver knew this 36-year-old father of four.
It was her own son-in-law, Danny Salmon, the man who stole her daughter Angie's heart and the reason the couple's clothes dryer always smells like dirt - or, what he prefers to call "fresh earth."
If her grandchildren were going to be riding the bus that day instead of being privately chauffeured to school, it could mean only that Danny was going deer hunting. His dirt-smelling camouflage had to be stashed in a bag somewhere.
"I guess it's a good thing I didn't get pulled over by the cops," he laughs. "I was wearing only my long johns. I don't like to put on my hunting clothes until I get to the woods."
Even though Danny was saving time by ferrying his amused children to the bus stop versus the school, he still was running late. It was almost a quarter 'til 7:00 when he arrived at the property he'd only recently discovered.
After losing access to the 120 acres he'd come to know well over the years, he was forced to seek new ground prior to the 2006 season. He wound up gaining permission from the widow of a former acquaintance to hunt a 100-acre farm barely 10 minutes from his own Leavenworth County home.
This trophy is particularly sweet for another reason. When Danny was divorcing his first wife, she advertised his two deer heads on the Internet and sold them. He's not sure if the judge was a deer hunter, but Danny wound up with custody of the two children. Photo Courtesy of Danny Salmon
Because Danny didn't have time to explore the property on foot, he decided to rely on cyber maps. As a millwright for the local Owens Corning Fiberglass plant, he doesn't get many opportunities for walks in the woods. Thus, he looked at satellite photographs via Google Earth for a week and a half before going afield to hang a stand.
"I don't get out much, so I do a lot of computer hunting," he said. "It's easy. Go to (http://earth.google.com), type in an address or known road and click on satellite."
Danny was drawn to a funnel between a pasture and a bean field. The first time he saw the woodlot, there wasn't so much as a track. Still convinced that it had to be the perfect travel corridor, he hung a scent dripper before leaving.
One week later, rubs were everywhere, and there were five scrapes. The place where he'd hung the dispenser was pawed out to about 6 feet in diameter.
It was a long 800-plus-yard hike across the bean field to his stand. Halfway across, he realized that he wasn't carrying his cell phone. He almost turned around to go back for it, and he might've if he wasn't already late. Time wasn't all that critical back when he hunted exclusively with firearms.
But ever since Danny's brother had badgered him into trying bowhunting six years earlier, he looked at hunting in a whole new light.
"Now I eat, sleep and breathe bowhunting," he said.
Plentiful and fresh buck sign aside, the main reason Danny was so anxious to get aloft that day was because the North wind was perfect for his setup. So he continued across the field and made short work of scaling the tree steps.
He'd been there maybe 20 minutes when he spied a doe. To lure her closer, he flipped his can call to bleat like a fawn, and he followed that with a tending grunt and more bleats. Five minutes later, another doe approached from a nearby creek bed, followed by a deer with a decent rack.
The buck stopped to rub a sapling 27 yards from Danny's tree, while its girlfriend dipped back down the 30-foot embankment into the creek.
Danny had a 10-inch opening between two trees, and that would have to suffice.
"When I pulled back, I wasn't nervous at all," he said. "But I had no idea how big that rascal was."
After the thwack, the buck whirled and disappeared down the embankment. A minute or so later, the doe emerged - sans boyfriend - and ran off into the woodlot.
Danny wasted little time in descending his stick ladder. He knew the buck had to be in the draw, and it was.
"When I pulled it out of the leaves, (the rack) just kept coming and coming," he laughed.
After gawking at the distinctive triple-beamed rack for several minutes, Danny ran back to his stand, retrieved his bow, and then sprinted all the way back to his truck so he could call Angie and a friend, Spencer Rogers, who lives on the same cul-de-sac.
The two men couldn't budge the deer, so they recruited a couple of Spencer's friends and one of Danny's who owned a four-wheeler. All were eager to help.
When they got back to Danny's house, he called the local Cabela's store, which was sponsoring a big buck contest. They told him that someone had already called to tell them about the buck, and they were waiting for him. The drive to the mega-store, through town, was purposely slow.
"That's probably the only time I've driven the speed limit through there," he said.
"The store emptied when I arrived," he added. "I was there for two hours."
When they tried to weigh the buck, the pole wasn't high enough to lift it entirely off the ground. With head still touching the floor, the scales showed 261 pounds.
"My son, Tyler, looks at me like I'm a superhero," Danny said. "Man, you can't beat that. My wife is even interested in taking up hunting!"
Danny wound up winning a gift certificate and some gear through Cabela's, much to his wife's dismay. Angie wasn't looking forward to more dirt - um, make that fresh earth scent - in her dryer, which is why she wanted her own introduction to hunting to come during turkey season.
Hunter: Danny Salmon
Official Score: 229 4/8"
Composite Score: 246 7/8"
-- Reprinted from the November 2007 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine