I’ve been bowhunting whitetails since 2016 with Tamarack Outfitters in Ashland, Kansas. Over the last several years, I have been fortunate enough to harvest a nice buck every year. I usually hunt the Kansas bow season in early October and rarely get the opportunity to hunt the peak of the rut in November due to scheduling conflicts and family obligations. 2019 would be different as we would be hunting the second week in November when the big bucks were on their feet chasing does.
The week started slow, and the weather was unpredictable. The first few days were cold and clear with temperatures in the low 20s. I was seeing plenty of deer but no real shooters.
On November 10th, the weather warmed up and daytime temps rose into the mid 60s. I had been hunting one particular farm for several days without any shot opportunities at a mature whitetail buck. We decided to change stand locations and hunt a different farm a few miles away. My outfitter chose a stand location referred to as the Lightning stand, named after the cottonwood tree nearby that was hit by lightning. I had hunted this stand several years prior without success. The Lightning stand sits high in an old cottonwood tree overlooking an agricultural field bordered by thick brush and tamarack.
I was in my stand for several hours and spotted a few does and small bucks several hundred yards away working their way into the field. At around 5:00 p.m., I caught movement in the tamarack to my right and saw a heavy, big-bodied deer emerge into the open. The buck was old, past his prime, and on the decline. He was definitely mature. I studied him for several minutes and was unsure if I wanted to take him. A smaller 8-point encroached on his space and caused the old buck to move and offer me a perfect broadside shot opportunity at 25 yards.
Knowing that the temps the next day were predicted to drop into the single digits and having just eaten a tag sandwich the week before in Iowa, my mind was made up and I let my arrow fly. I made a perfect pass-through shot, taking out both lungs. The buck didn’t even realize he was shot. He stumbled a few yards, stood there, and toppled over within sight of the tree stand. Needless to say, it was the easiest tracking job I ever had.
I got down from my tree and was excited to see that the buck had a funky double main beam with one point broken off. He was huge, topping the scales at 300 pounds. We took some awesome photos and loaded him into the truck.
Once I got back to my home in New Jersey, I sent his tooth into deerage.com to determine how old the buck was. A few weeks later, I received a report in the mail and was stunned. The big old buck was 10.5 years old, making him the oldest buck I’d ever harvested. My outfitter had never seen this deer on any of his game cameras on any of his farms. I guess it just goes to show that you never know what’s going to walk under your stand in Kansas.