If you enjoyed Episodes #62 and #159 of the Wired To Hunt Podcast with John Eberhart, you’re in for a treat. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be continuing to share a number of John’s successful kill stories here on Wired To Hunt. Today we’ve got John’s story of his 2009 out-of-state trip to Kansas. – MK
By John Eberhart
2009 had been an eventful yet unsuccessful season and even though I hadn’t taken a buck yet, for the first time since 1999 I had seen two Pope and Young bucks in Michigan before gun season.
My annual plan is to bowhunt in the heavily pressured state of Michigan and then leave for an out of state hunt during Michigan’s gun season to bowhunt a lightly pressured state where I’ll typically see five or more bucks in the 125″ to 160″ range in a week and they’re much easier to kill.
Early in the morning on November 15th my son Jon and I took off and we met up with good friend Bryan Schupbach in Kansas that night.
On the last day of our 2008 Kansas trip Jon and I drove around and knocked on some doors for free permission and acquired three new properties to hunt for 2009 but were not able to scout them before we left.
Immediately upon our arrival we quickly prepped some of our old stand by locations and then began scouting the new properties. The new location we were most excited about was a wide draw with a creek running through it. The draw consisted primarily of dense brush, tall weeds, wild cannabis, plum thickets, a lot of locust trees and a few scattered mature cottonwoods.
For miles on either side of the draw there was nothing but picked crop fields, making this draw the only available cover in the area in which deer could bed and have ample security cover to transition through.
We separated and followed both sides of its edges, and about a half mile off the road it funneled down to its tightest pinch point. At the eighty yard wide funnel we found active scrapes and fresh rubs literally everywhere. This was definitely the spot, and to make things even better there was a large multi-trunked cottonwood located exactly in the center.
We spent about two hours getting this spot as perfect as possible because we knew this narrow pinch point was going to offer some opportunities, there were just too many signposts for it not to.
After all the shooting lanes were cut and the brush drug away, we hung a Lone Wolf stand about eighteen feet up the straightest trunk of the cottonwood for Bryan and prepared a location for our sling harnesses about 28 foot up another trunk that was too big a diameter and too crooked for any treestand.
Bryan was in his stand well before first light the very next morning and as it was breaking light a wide racked buck came down the draw as planned and walked right in on him. The buck’s twenty plus inch inside spread rack with many tines was all Bryan needed to see for confirmation as a shooter.
At a distance of 20 yards Bryan made a perfect double lung shot and watched as the buck ran a mere thirty five yards before tipping over. He took out his binoculars and glassed the expired buck. The buck had 12 typical points, but very short tines. Being just after daylight, Bryan decided to sit for a while and enjoy the scenery, after all it was his first morning hunt and he was tagged out.
Within an hour, an absolute bruiser ten pointer sauntered in. Bryan said it would have made an excellent magazine cover photo because it was perfectly symmetrical with tall white tines and he hung around the area and worked a scrape and made a new rub all within 30 yards. The buck caught wind of the downed twelve pointer and bee-lined to him, sniffed him for a few seconds and casually meandered away.
This area was so hot with sign that even though we had disturbed it a couple hours preparing it and dragged a buck out the next morning, I decided to hunt there again the following morning. I would never ever consider doing that at home.
Sitting in my sling well before first light I could hear deer passing through the area, and I hadn’t asked Bryan if he had heard anything prior to daybreak, so of course I thought our disturbance caused the deer to move back earlier than normal and I had made the wrong choice.
That wasn’t the case, as just after daybreak a couple six points came in and began sparring about 40 yards away. They put on quite a show that gave me some brush up points for future fake sparring sequences. I paid very close attention to how frequently they took breaks, how loud they were, how long the quiet gaps were between antler sparring, and how much ground noise they made during the pushing segments. Bowhunting is always a learning experience.
Before they finished, another buck came on the scene. He was walking down the outside edge of the funnel on the other side of the draw from where the bucks were sparring, but he heard them and casually changed course in our direction. I was dead center between the big antlered buck and the youngsters. On the side of the rack I could see there were a couple large tines and his rack was bone white.
This had to be the buck Bryan saw the morning before because it’s just not in my Michigan DNA to even think there could be three big bucks using the same travel corridor. I had a brief lapse in reality and remembered I was not at home, but in Kansas.
The buck moved at a steady pace towards the subordinate bucks and I had totally gone into kill mode and never looked at his antlers again. Within several seconds he was at eight yards quartering to me and I was at full draw. He then stopped and looked up at me and was quartering to me hard enough that it was not a shot I wanted to take. Oh well I thought, this hunt is over. Nope, again I forgot I was not at home, but in Kansas.
Within moments he lowered his head and kept walking and as he passed in front of me offering a more broadside shot, which I took. The Carbon Express arrow tipped with a G5 head launched from my Mathews bow had found its mark and I watched as he ran about fifty yards and collapsed. I packed by gear, lowered my bow and walked over to see just how perfect that 10-point Bryan saw was. The buck Bryan saw may have been perfect, but this busted down antlered buck only had 9 scorable points.
His rack was heavy but he had the most busted up antlers I’d ever seen in the field. There were three points broken off either side, flush at the beam or off an antler point and one of the main beams had at least 6 inches missing and originally there was likely a point or two on it.
For a brief moment I was extremely disappointed because I thought I had taken the perfect ten-point. What an ass I was. I had just taken an old mature buck and the more I looked at him, the more I liked what I had just accomplished. This buck was in fact a warrior and had the head, neck and body scars and busted rack to prove it.
I sat there pondering about all the different bucks he had battled with over the years and this year to break his antlers like that. I’ve taken 27 ten points and all of them are relatively symmetrical. When I look at this 9 point mixed amongst all my other head mounts, he stands out big time and I get asked about him a lot. He’s one of my favorites.
Editors note: John Eberhart is an accomplished bow-hunter that specializes in heavily pressured areas with 29 bucks listed in CBM’s record book from 19 different properties in 10 different counties. John produced a 3 volume instructional DVD series titled “Bowhunting Pressured Whitetails” and co-authored the books, “Bowhunting Pressured Whitetails”, “Precision Bowhunting”, and “Bowhunting Whitetails the Eberhart Way”. They are available at www.deer-john.net, where you’ll also find information about his new whitetail workshops.