Clay Craft is a name that some of you may be growing familiar with and I think we can expect that trend to continue for many years to come. This young man, who recently joined the Heartland Bowhunter team, is on a serious roll this year. With a second monster buck on the ground for 2011, his TV debut is going to be a great one on Heartland Bowhunter Season 5 and I certainly can’t wait to see where he goes from here. Today his father, Bryhn Craft of Whitetail Properties, has shared with us a terrific story of how Clay killed this giant Kansas deer known as the Split G2 Buck. Huge congrats to Clay and keep up the great work! – MK
“This story starts December 2010 in Franklin county Kansas, when the trail cameras showed me a buck we came to know as the Split G2. The reason I had not gotten pictures of this buck before then was I wasn’t looking for him where he lived. Turns out this buck sought late season refuge just 300 yards behind our barn in a small patch of woods that belonged to our neighbor and I did not have permission to hunt. I had heard stories of the big ones getting shot just behind the camp or just behind someone’s house but did not actually expect to find one there!
I managed getting one picture of him early October 2011 about a mile from where he was hanging out late season 2010. But this one picture set things in motion for the 2011 season. Not only did the picture let me know he was alive, but also that he had put on an additional 20+ inches of antler, landing him on the hit list for sure! After seeing this picture, this was the buck Clay set his heart on. He was dedicated, I assure you he passed up some bucks this year that most adult men would love to see just hoping for a chance at harvesting this buck. I admire him for his dedication throughout the season. Especially since we did not even know if he was still around or not. We had not gotten a picture since the one in early October, but I had a good feeling the buck would end up seeking refuge behind the barn late season just as the trail cameras had shown from the previous year, maybe giving Clay a shot at him. But there were no guaranties, this is deer hunting after all.
With no other pictures of the Split G2, I put out a camera behind the barn during the first week of November anticipating he would show and within the first 7 days he showed up just as planed. We were getting regular pictures of him during daylight and decided to try to bow hunt him. Given that I did not have permission to hunt the block of woods where he lived, I was limited to one lone tree in the middle of the pasture where we might have a chance at him as he headed to the wheat field on our property. This long shot stand placement proved unproductive. The deer that were coming out early were picking us out and the buck stopped showing up during daylight and then all together. We just lacked sufficient cover in that lone tree to hide a hunter and a cameraman.
We abandoned the setup and I decided that I would set up something for rifle season and leave it alone hoping we had not pushed the deer off for good. At this point Clay told me it was ok if I hunted the buck with a bow, but if anyone was going to be rifle hunting this buck it was going to be him not me. I know when I am beat, there was no arguing this point and it was settled, he would be hunting this spot and I got the boot!
After a long 10 days without getting a single picture of the Split G2, he showed back up on Nov 26. The pictures revealed he had broken off the Split G2 just a few days before Gun season opened. At least we knew he was still alive and had a chance at the buck. Clay said the taxidermist could fix the broken tine, he wasn’t getting a pass! We had hunted the blind I had set up for 4 days of the gun season so far without seeing the Split G2 buck. December 6th Clay was scheduled for an early release day from School and it looked like everything was lining up to make things happen weather wise. We had a cold front move in on the 5th and brought about an inch of snow and a high temp for the 6th of 28 degrees. Given that we would have a visibly rising moon that day and the cold temperatures it seemed like the perfect recipe to get the deer on their feet early.
I picked Clay up from school and we were at the farm by 2:00 pm. We had deer moving at 4:30, which was early considering they had been coming out at 5:30 the entire previous week. We ended up seeing 7 different bucks come out of that block of timber that afternoon before the Split G2 showed up.
Clay wasted no time making the 200-yard shot. After a few hugs and tears of joy, we finally put our hands on the Split G2. After we stretched the tape on this buck it revealed a gross score of 163”. Had it not broken off the G2 it would have made the elusive 170” mark! Nonetheless it was a magical day watching my 11-year-old son take a buck like that. One I wont forget! Congratulations Clay on a buck of a lifetime! I love you Little Buddy!” – DAD
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