It’s no wonder Kurt Werth was eager to go home shortly after sunset on Sept. 6, the second day of Kansas’ 2020 youth season.
He and his daughter, Paslie, had endured five hours of triple-digit heat inside a deer blind, hoping a particular buck with a gnarly rack would stroll past. To be honest, she was the hopeful one. Dad had serious doubts.
Kurt and 14-year-old Paslie were hunting from a different setup than the one they’d used on opening day. The Plan-B blind was near a bedding area that had yielded numerous bucks.
They got off to an early start on Day Two. They reached the family-owned tract at 5 a.m. and stayed until about 10:00. Rather than drive the hour back home to Cimarron, they went to Paslie’s grandparents’ house for lunch.
“Paslie started asking to go back out around 2:00,” Kurt said. “But it was 102 degrees out there!”
An hour later, he acquiesced.
“It just kinda hit me,” Paslie explained. “I said, ‘We need to go, Dad. We have to get out there!’ I just knew something was going to happen.”
Her enthusiasm never waned.
“That evening, I was wide open. I sometimes get sleepy and take a nap, but I was determined to hunt to the last minute.
“I kept telling myself, He’s going to be here,” she added, referring to a giant Kiowa County whitetail the family had been monitoring for three years.
Paslie’s big sister, 5-year-older Jaeden, saw the deer while hunting with their father in 2018. She wanted to shoot it, but Kurt said they should let it grow.
“She gave me that are-you-crazy look,” he laughed. “I figured the deer for a 4 1/2-year-old, with lots of potential.”
Kurt passed the animal up himself the next year only because it had broken off a few of its 27 points. He believes the intact rack might’ve hit the 240-inch mark.
“I’m not saying I didn’t think about that decision more than once,” he admitted.
Most of the trail camera photos they collected prior to the Sept. 5-13, 2020, youth season were nighttime shots, another reason Kurt wasn’t eager to return to the sweatbox.
That they went anyway is testament to the girl’s persuasiveness.
“My dad and I parked about a mile from our blind,” the high school freshman began her story.
They followed a draw across CRP, and then walked a fence line next to an overgrown cow pasture. They pretty much watched grass grow for the next five hours.
When daylight began waning, Kurt began gathering their gear. Paslie remained alert.
“I had a gut feeling something was going to appear that night,” she reiterated.
With only 10 or 15 minutes of shooting light remaining, Paslie saw a buck stand at the only cedar tree in the grass field she was facing. That meant it was only 25 yards from the blind. The tree was one of their pre-ranged yardage markers.
Kurt had stationed the homemade plywood blind there for Paslie to hunt it with a crossbow after the youth season ended. He and her grandfather had built it on a small boat trailer, so it was portable.
Before announcing the deer’s presence, Paslie stuck the bolt-action .270’s barrel out of the blind’s window and acquired the buck in her Bushnell’s crosshairs. That was the first time for her to hunt with the Savage rifle her father had won at a Pheasants Forever banquet.
As soon as the crosshairs floated over the animal, she recognized it.
“Dad, it’s him!” She whispered.
“I thought she was joking me around,” Kurt said. “I didn’t think we’d see that deer, since the camera card indicated it moved only at night.”
The shot dropped the buck, but it got back up as Paslie stepped out of the blind. It remained on its feet for at least 30 yards before disappearing.
Paslie went straight to where she’d lost sight of the whitetail. Moments later, she was the first to see the fallen animal’s pale belly.
“It’s a good thing she marked where she saw it last, because I never saw it get back up,” Kurt said. “Otherwise, we could’ve searched forever. Some of that grass was over our heads.”
He never doubted she’d hit the deer where it counts, though.
“Both my daughters are good shooters. They’re deadly,” he added.
“As soon as we found it, the jitters came,” Paslie said. “I really wasn’t nervous when I first saw the buck. All I knew was I had to get the gun out the window and get him shot.”
Paslie has shared her story many times.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of telling it,” she grinned.
Her classmates saw photos of the deer on the Internet. The first few days, every time she turned a corner at school, someone asked her, “Are you sure it was 40 points?”
“I think they were surprised someone from a small town got such a nice deer,” she said. “Plus, not many girls get into shooting like I do. All kids should learn to do outdoors stuff.”
She credits her father, her mother Dionne, who owns a hair salon, and her grandparents for instilling a love of the outdoors in her.
Paslie has taken four bucks now. Before this one, her best was a 178-incher she shot in 2019. She wanted to shoot it the previous season, when it was a 150-inch 11-pointer, but her dad, a deer-savvy agricultural extension agent, said it was too young.
“She also gave me that look,” he smiled.
Kurt rough-scored his daughter’s buck at 282 6/8, 40 or so inches bigger than it was a year earlier. He says the deer’s tines were shorter in 2020, but there were a lot more of them. The antlers carry more mass, too. It was officially taped at 283, eclipsing the previous record for a whitetail harvested by a woman.
The buck had only recently shed most of its velvet. There was some remaining on the rack’s backside.
Size aside, the Werths rarely see deer like this one.
We don’t have many true Non-typicals here,” Kurt said. “We have a lot more typical deer with the occasional flyers and stickers.”
Editor’s Note: Want to read more tales about the world’s greatest whitetails? Subscribe to Rack magazine.