My quest to shoot a big buck began when I first hunted in Kansas in 2001. I harvested an 8-pointer that scored 148 inches, and I was hooked.
I like hunting in my home state of Virginia, but it’s nothing like the Midwest. I have always had a passion for hunting whitetails. I have been so drawn to and obsessed with it that I pursued an education in wildlife and fisheries management.
I continued to harvest 130-inch deer almost every year in Kansas up until 2011, when I asked some buddies “What do I have to do to kill a monster?”
The two guys had both taken bucks with between 170 and 180 inches of antler, and they offered the same advice: If I wanted to harvest a true giant, I needed to hunt at least three full rifle seasons, holding out for a giant, and be willing to eat my tag rather than settle for less.
They told me I would never harvest a giant if I continued to shoot the first 130-inch buck that came around the corner. Who can argue with that logic?
The next three years were very frustrating. I passed up some pretty good bucks. I truly believe that I would have been successful if the deer herd there had not been devastated by Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD). There were rumors that seven out of every 10 bucks died from it.
One of the bucks that I had been hunting was found dead next to a pond. I had chased that deer for several years. It was heartbreaking to see it go out like that.
Though the hunting was very difficult, I was determined not to give up because I wanted at least a 160-incher. I knew they were there. I hunted whether it was hot or brutally cold, and I had some close calls.
In 2014, I decided to change up my hunting and schedule my vacation to coincide with the rut. Instead of waiting for the December rifle season, I took my crossbow. The trail cameras were yielding photographs of some really good bucks.
After two and a half days of hunting, I finally had a giant in front of me – broadside – at 45 yards. I aimed my 40-yard pin at the top portion of the lungs.
I watched the arrow smack the deer; watched the buck kick before running away. I knew I had nailed my first true giant. I also thought I heard it fall, but I waited 30 minutes before getting down the tree.
The buck did not go far. When I reached it, I was astonished at the size of its antlers. I knew I was lucky and blessed. The journey had been long and hard, but eating three Kansas deer tags was worth it!
The deer’s BTR composite score is 165 7/8 inches, a whole ’nother class compared to the others I’ve harvested.
I often tell people “Kansas where dreams come true.” I have even more proof now.