I’d intended to spend opening day of Kansas’ 2009 firearms season babysitting the south end of a heavily wooded draw where I’d been seeing a very nice, tall and wide 14-pointer. The buck with the striking white rack usually left the area in the early morning and returned an hour or so before sunset.
The temperature plummeted the night before the opener, however, and the wind was roaring. Figuring the neighborhood deer would remain in heavy cover and that walking would be warmer than sitting, I changed plans and decided to stalk the brushy draws and edges.
Soon after parking my truck, I headed into the first east-west tree line and turned north at a fence three-quarters of a mile into my hike. I followed a deep gully choked with tall grass, hoping to see that 14-pointer bedded in it. I didn’t think it would be hard to spot. That huge white rack would surely stick out in the brown grass.
I continued to follow the draws and hedge rows about a mile or so northward, moving slowly past several ponds and small woodlots southeast of where my friend, Ted, was hunting.
About the time I passed the section in which Ted had taken a stand, I heard him shoot. Figuring he’d got himself a deer, I kept going toward the tree line, pausing when I neared the edge to check out a hillside.
A few minutes later, close to 8:00, I heard a deer running toward me. Holy cow, that thing was huge. It looked totally out of proportion – a 200-plus-inch rack atop a fairly small (for Kansas) buck that wouldn’t top 200 pounds.
The buck – every hunter’s dream – stopped broadside about 30 feet in front of me. Picture a deer that knows it’s made a bad mistake and a hunter with an open mouth. I was faster.
I leveled my .308 and squeezed the trigger, but the deer ran. I saw no sign of a hit, and was convinced I’d missed while looking at that rack with all the points – a beginner’s mistake! I had never done that before, and hope I never do it again.
I don’t remember reloading, but I must’ve. Because when I fired again on the fly, I connected and the buck collapsed beside a creek bank.
Afterward, I left an orange hat on a tree limb next to the deer and headed for the road to get my truck. I met Ted at the road and caught a lift. He helped me field-dress and load the buck he’d missed at 80 yards a few minutes before I shot it.
I had never seen a record book buck before that. I’d initially planned to just add the rack to my collection. That was before a bunch of friends saw it in the back of my truck.
They all whipped out cell phones and began taking pictures like crazy. My buck, still warm, was seen nationwide in nanoseconds. A few days after that, we were all getting e-mails from other deer hunters, asking if we’d seen this huge buck – my buck – taken in Kansas. That was pretty cool.
One of my friends, Clint, an avid bowhunter, started making calls as soon as he saw the deer. I can’t repeat the first words out of his mouth, but the look on his face and what he said spoke volumes. While holding up the rack, he announced, “This thing needs to be scored now!”
When I got to his place, it looked like a Willie Nelson concert was about to get underway. His driveway was lined with pickups, and folks were everywhere. None were certified measurers, but several knew their way around a measuring tape. It was all Greek to me.
The scoring process took awhile. There was a lot of arguing about blood lines, typical and irregular points, which point to follow, etc. When they finished, they told me it had 22 scoreable points and tallied 245 and change.
“Is that big?” I asked.
“Off the scale,” they answered.
I wish I could say I patterned this buck, watched it for months and had trail cam photos, but I can’t. That I shot it was pure luck, plain and simple. I should’ve bought a lottery ticket that day.
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View Official BTR SCORESHEET for Troy Henderson.
Taken by: Troy Henderson
BTR Score: 250 6/8
Location: Saline County, Kansas
Date: December 2, 2009