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"They are HERE!"

By "Trapper John" Schmidt

Whitetail Deer
"Trapper John" Schmidt of Harahan, La., had plenty of faith in Kansas, despite the naysayers who lived where he hunted. Here's the buck he took in 2003 that proved his theory. Photos Courtesy of: "Trapper John" Schmidt

When I arrived in Kansas in 2003, the locals wanted to know what kind of buck I hoped to take back home to Louisiana. I held out my arms like a fisherman describing the one that got away, and they all laughed at me. I told them that even though they lived there, they did not understand.

"This is Kansas," I said. "They are here!"

"Yeah, right," they scoffed. "No deer like that has ever been seen around here."

Oh really?

I hunted an area flanking a river, a large piece of ground with corn and soybean fields spanning 2 miles of low delta-like land. Along the river were tall grasses and willow trees - a corridor between crops (the corn had already been cut) and the hills where many deer spent the days. The hills were mostly hardwoods with some apple, pear and persimmon trees.

I walked for miles trying to find big rubs, and I did not find any until I looked on telephone poles. This provided some incentive. The fields had plenty of big tracks, but then all the bucks I saw were big. Even young deer looked like 200-pounders.

Whitetail Deer
When the 23 4⁄8-inch inside spread is added, King's composite score tops 186 inches. Photos Courtesy of: "Trapper John" Schmidt

After five full days of hunting in 80-degree weather, I noticed a pattern while sitting on the ground next to a narrow grass line between the corn stubble and the still-standing brown beans.

Deer would routinely come out of the hills (500 yards away) about an hour after daylight and head toward the river. Turns out, some of the deer chose to bed down in the bean field or high grass rather than in the woods. These are the ones I set up to intercept.

I was waiting for that first wave of whitetails on Oct. 23.

First, a doe appeared and walked down the cut corn line close to the standing beans. She came near and wanted to pass by, but she saw me, blew and fled. She made a wide turn and continued on her way.

A few minutes later, three more does came out of the hills. They followed the same trail and busted me as well. They ran back toward the hills before cutting into the beans where they disappeared.

A few minutes later, I saw a buck. Even at 400 yards, it looked huge.

Two other deer were with the big buck. One, an 8-pointer, started my way down the all-too-familiar trail. I did not pay much attention to it, however, because I could not take my eyes off the big deer. When the smaller buck spotted me, it started stomping and blowing. I did not look at it, though the deer was only 25 yards away.

It did not know what I was and, eventually, resumed feeding.

The big deer was just standing out there in the open, alone, not moving an inch. I don't know where the third deer went.

Today!About the time the 8-pointer wandered off, three does emerged from the beans, headed my way. Once again, they saw me and ran back the same trail. I saw that as my opportunity to close the gap between me and the buck that just stood out there like a statue. I hunkered down and ran behind the does. When they went into the beans again, I sat down at the edge of the bean field. The big buck just stood there.

I was about 300 yards away from the buck after my jaunt.

Suddenly, a doe appeared next to the buck, and they started down the same trail all the other deer had taken. I watched their progress through my riflescope, from 300 to within 25 yards.

The doe saw me first (big surprise) and turned. When the buck stopped to look, I fired. It ran 40 yards into the open field and dropped. I'd made a perfect heart shot!

The deer was so big that I could not budge it.

When the local cowboys came to help me load it, they could not believe their eyes. They started laughing and named him "King," joking that he could whip all the other deers' butts.

Read More Stories From RACK MagazineCenterfire Rifle
Official Score: 162 7/8"
Compound Score: 186 3/8"

-- Reprinted from the October 2006 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine

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