By Mark Huelsing
I am excited to share today’s story with you! My buddy, Alex, is a hard-working hunter that had an opportunity to hunt Kansas this year. His hunt didn’t go as planned, and he faced some pretty wild situations, but perseverance and luck proved to be a deadly combo, and he was able to tag a giant buck! – MH
“The day had finally arrived. It was time to head to Kansas for a do-it-yourself whitetail hunt on a farm I’d sub-leased from Abilene Outdoors Adventures. Driving to Kansas, weather was in the low 30’s, and I’d seen tons of deer activity off I-70. Things were looking promising.
In the first four days I saw tons of turkey, coons, Pope & Young fox squirrels, two does, one small buck, and a 150” class buck – but he was on the neighboring property! To make things worse, the weather turned sour – gusting winds of 20-30 mph, temperatures as high as 72 degrees – the kind of weather that hunkers down all activity, especially mature deer.
Between the days 2 and 3, I decided to relocate one of my stands based on some aerial scouting I did with my phone’s map app. I identified a pinch point that was in an hourglass shape, surrounded by a few fence lines. BINGO! “I’ll take my chances there!” I thought to myself. I approached the area with extreme caution, picked a tree off a dry creek between two trails, set up the stand, and left as quickly and as quietly as I could. I chose not to hunt it until the wind was right.
Although I had hope for this new spot, I was frustrated after four long days of hunting with little action. I sent some texts and tweets, releasing some of my frustration. And in response, four people were an inspiration and a reminder of how blessed I am. The constant thought of my son, and best friend, 2 ½ year old, Marko, was a reminder that I had to try my best, make it count – or else why be away from him so many days? My sweetheart, Kimberly, who kept checking up on me, giving me words of encouragement and support. Deer Passion’s, Elizabeth, reminding me on this very same day how beautiful Kansas weather was for those that lived there. Then there was Mark from Sole Adventure, giving me a boost via moral support with his blog, “Winner’s (And Hunters) Never Quit”. Their words of support were just what I needed!
Finally, on Tuesday, October 30th, the wind was right to hunt the dry creek bottom. The evening hunt passed quickly. Then, with just 20 minutes of legal shooting light left, I let out a rattling and calling sequence. I heard movement and glassed in front of me, but was depressed to see nothing but cows! I lowered my pack and bow, thinking the hunt was over.
My plan was to head to the edge of the field to see where deer, if there were any, may be exiting. I started to undo my harness strap when I heard something disrupt the leaves behind me. I turned to take a look, and to my surprise, what I saw was a giant-bodied buck.
I immediately made up my mind that was a deer I wanted to shoot. However, my gear – yes, even my bow – was on the ground! With desperation, I reached for the cord and pulled my gear up as fast and as carefully as I could. Of course, my bow hit my climbing sticks, which made quite a bit of noise, but something unexplainable occurred – this old, wise, and mature buck let me get away with it.
It seemed as if it took forever to get my gear up, even though I was only 15 feet off the ground. All tangled, I managed to undo the knot, separate the pack from the bow, hang the pack on the bow hook, and nock an arrow. (Thank God I had my release on!) I turned at full draw to look for the buck on the trail behind me. My heart sank – he was in the middle of the creek, crossing at FIVE YARDS from the base of the tree! I knew I had to stop him or he’d cross downwind of me in 5-10 yards.
He stopped. I settled my pin behind his shoulder. However, he looked behind him and his rack was blocking his vitals. I waited him out, he looked forward to continue his journey, and the arrow took flight, finding its mark. He ran 30 yards and stopped momentarily. I grunted softly, and he walked away slowly.
After the shot, my legs “went noodle” and I felt faint! I called my wife, Kimberly, to let her know I’d just shot a giant! She thought I was joking, because just minutes before I had texted her about the cows. Then I called Dave, the owner of the lease. I told him that he needed to come get me because the buck had gone toward my exit path, and I DID NOT want to take any chances on pushing him. Dave arrived, got the lights out, did some minor blood trailing, and “OMG”, what a sight! There he was!
All I saw was his back and his spread. There are no words to describe the emotions. The biggest buck of my 16 years of bowhunting – the score didn’t even matter! A Kansas giant fell to a humble arrow, from a humble hunter.
This hunt came with mixed emotions. I followed my passion. I respectfully celebrated a successful hunt. I was complimented by the other hunters for my discipline, perseverance, and relentless will as a hunter. I celebrated the love for my children, a beginning of a new personal life, the memory of a wonderful neighbor who passed.
The owner of the farm, Debb, congratulated me, respected me, and understood the hunter’s way of life. She extended future invitations to hunt her property and thanked me for the respect I gave her land, her animals, her home. This hunt, beyond the kill, will forever live in my heart. On this day, when my emotions bundled up, when this wonderful deer fell and gave his life to this hunter’s passion, it also gave his life to nourish others, it happened to be a day when the stars lined up.” – Alex Tagle, Hunting Freakz Adventures
– Mark Huelsing is a regular guy with an irregular passion for bowhunting and the outdoors. If he is not bowhunting, then he is planning towards it, training for it, and writing about it at SoleAdventure.com