posted on July 16, 2012 06:23
By Mike Handley
Prior to the 2011 season, Christian Kincheloe, his father and brothers pored over thousands of trail cam photographs, hoping to see the giant buck that had strolled in front of their cameras the previous fall. They salivated over several whitetails worthy of their hit list, but there wasn't a single image of the big one.
Had the estimated 200-plus-incher been among those photographed, Christian would've recognized it. He'd used one of the 2010 photos -- minus the drool stain -- as his computer's screensaver.
Christian chose to see the opening-bell sunrise from a newly hung stand on the family's 145-acre farm in Daviess County, Mo. The wind probably kept many hunters indoors that day, but Christian, a teacher and wrestling coach in the Park Hill School District, wasn't about to let the weekend – his only time to hunt – pass without being afield.
Early into his vigil, he watched a basket-rack 6-pointer and a young forkhorn chasing a couple of does. When the activity slowed midmorning, he decided to still-hunt his way back to the cabin to share a cup of coffee with the guys and to see if they'd seen anything.
When he was within 85 yards of the last thicket between him and a cup of joe, he saw a buck low to the ground, slinking away from him. Christian continued forward slowly, intending to circle the island of trees in hopes of catching the buck in range on the other side.
Just as he'd hoped, the buck was there, along with a doe -- probably the only reason it hadn't left the county. When the lovesick brute stepped into the clear, Christian squeezed the trigger, and he was at the fallen buck's side almost before the shot's echo had faded.
Until that moment, he'd had no idea he was shooting at his screensaver.
A bit later, the Kincheloes settled in front of a computer to compare photos to the nighttime trail shots from 2010. It was the same buck, no doubt, but it had lost several inches from one year to the next.
It wound up scoring 181 5/8 inches (197 7/8 with the spread), No. 30 among Missouri's irregular rifle harvests. You can read more about this fabulous buck (including how its rack came to have a hole in it) in Jeff Lampe's story, which will be published next fall in Rack magazine.