Big Buck 411 Blog



By Mike Handley

Kansas yielded its second-ever, 300-inch whitetail during the 2018 season, the first actually felled by a hunter. (The other, a victim to EHD, was found dead in 2012.)

Several hunters were reportedly drooling over the buck when it was alive, but none were more serious about taking it home than Arkansas brothers Mark and Rob Watson.

Though they hunt the same properties, the Watsons don’t usually target the same bucks. Last year, however, they came to a pact.

Since trail camera photographs clearly indicated the massive whitetail favored one spot, the custom-built stand overlooking it – Rob’s – became the go-to vantage point. If Rob couldn’t hunt from it, Mark would.

The guys first became aware of the deer they nicknamed Christmas Tree in 2016. His visits were sporadic, at best, and they could not pattern him.

In 2017, so intent upon increasing their odds and time afield, the Watsons bought a home away from home in which they could stay while hunting. They also hung cellular trail cams attached to external batteries so they wouldn’t have to go in and check the units.

Rob saw Christmas Tree that season, but he didn’t get a shot.

For five weeks going into the 2018 season, Mark and Rob collected photos of Christmas Tree almost every day. They even saw the deer from the vehicle during one trip.

Mark hunted alone on Dec. 2. That evening, he saw a big, antsy 10-pointer on a nearby logging road. He wondered if it was ill at ease because of the much bigger buck in the vicinity.

The 5x5 spotted Mark in the blind from 15 yards, and that was more than enough to send it packing. Soon after it disappeared, a doe led Christmas Tree into chip-shot range for a .270.

He and Rob later chose to call it the Watson Brothers Buck.

The 31-pointer was measured 20 days later by three generations of experienced BTR scorers. Jack, Rusty and Russten Johnson pooled their considerable talents to tape the rack before a crowd of onlookers at a store in Springdale, Arkansas. Their tally: 300 3/8 inches.

Russten is writing the story that’ll appear in Rack magazine, which will include more detail about the Sunflower State’s No. 2 all-time whitetail. It’s 20th in the world, overall, and the 16th-largest, hunter-bagged buck in the BTR.

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