Big Buck 411 Blog

Throwing Smoke

Throwing Smoke

By Patrick Dunning

Pennsylvania native Jason Diamond drove 16 hours for a showdown with a velvet stud during Kansas' 2022 muzzleloader opener. His personal best buck scored just shy of 200 inches at 197 6/8, with 18 countable points more than an inch. It's the second-largest velvet whitetail ever taken in the state with a muzzleloader.

In Kansas, nonresident hunters can apply for a specific season (archery, muzzleloader or firearms) and unit, and winners are drawn by lottery each summer. Every year you aren't selected, you earn preference points that increase your chances of being awarded a permit the following season.

Across all 18 units in the state, the Kansas Dept. of Wildlife and Parks issued 22,134 nonresident permits in 2022. Jason is lucky enough to have had his name drawn for a muzzleloader buck tag four years in a row. He's had success in north-central Kansas before, too, taking a beautiful buck (193 3/8) on the 2018 opener.

Jason credits the folks at Pipe Creek Guide Service, an outfitter based outside of Minneapolis, for stewarding its 15,000-acre habitat well, and consistently producing big-bodied deer with massive racks.

Pipe Creek says they haven't had a velvet buck taken on their property in almost 30 years, though.

The weekend before opening day, Jason and company scouted a wheat stubble field in the southwest corner of unit 8 in Ottawa County where two 10-pointers, both in mid-160s, fed regularly over the summer. Scrapes along a treeline bordering the far end of the wheat field indicated a bigger buck was present, but they still weren't certain when it was showing up, so Jason hoped to encounter one of the 10-pointers.

Monday morning, day one, Jason hunted over a soybean field and passed up a 3-year-old buck. That afternoon, he situated himself on a fence line in an elevated stand overlooking the L-shaped wheat stubble field.

Throwing Smoke“I was overlooking a wheat funnel, and behind a small patch of woods, there's a 1,000-yard-wide bean field I could see,” he said. “So, I'm hunting over this stubble field that looks like an L because it was 700 yards in length and 100 yards wide. I had pastureland on one side and beans behind me, kind of knowing that if anything moved through that field it'd be coming away from the beans in the morning to bed or toward the beans in the evening to feed.”

Both 10-pointers showed up together one-half hour before sunset and fed for nearly 30 minutes. Just after 7 p.m., 220 yards from Jason's stand on the far side of the field, “Fuzz,” nicknamed by Jason's son because of its velvet, stepped from the wood line and started making a beeline for the two loitering bucks.

Jason is confident with his .45 caliber muzzleloader's accuracy out to 300 yards, but he didn't trust the high wind.

“I passed on those two 10's and waited about 30 minutes. Sure enough, this huge deer came out at about 220 yards,” Jason said. “He started to work his way toward the other two bucks, and I had to take the shot before he caught my scent on the constant wind. I didn't want to take a chance on him getting too much closer.”

When the buck got to 170 yards, Jason pulled the trigger and connected with its left shoulder. Fuzz didn't go 5 yards.

Jason hunts mostly with a compound bow on his 200-acre stand next to Wayne National Forest in Washington County, Ohio. He's taken several high-scoring deer there over the last 10 years. In fact, his 2013 Ohio buck measured just a few inches smaller than his most recent trophy.

Another interesting tidbit is that seven years ago, Jason had surgery to remove a benign tumor on his right ear's balance nerve. Doctors removed his inner ear and right balance nerve, and he began to use Tetra hearing aids for sound enhancement – and sound suppression during gunshots. He said he could hear Fuzz wading through the wheat stubble more than 200 yards away!

— Read Recent Blog! Where There's One: Jacody Downey's pre-season prep paid dividends after getting skunked during the 2022 bow season opening weekend in the Bluegrass State.

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