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Where Do You Find the Big Bucks At.

The All Day Buck
EDITOR'S NOTE: This week we'll look at the deer hunter's Valhalla. The state of Kansas has produced some of the biggest bucks in the nation, and this week we'll look at the stories and photos of hunters who've hunted with Brad Harris and Tad Brown, members of the Outland staff, which produces Lohman's and M.A.D.'s game calls.
Kevin Rose from Apple Valley, Minnesota, was hunting with Brad Harris when the two spotted a big buck early one morning in Kansas. Harris watched this big buck go down into a little ditch just off the side of a hill next to a patch of persimmons. "I sat on my stand from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m. before I ever saw the buck," Rose says. "The deer stood up out of range, came out of the ditch and went over to some pine trees to work a scrape. The deer stood about 220 yards away working the scrape. So much brush stood between me and the buck that I couldn't take a shot. I watched the buck for about five minutes with my binoculars until he finally vanished into the brush. At about 11:00 a.m., I finally saw the buck come out of the brush and then return to his bedding spot. But once again, I couldn't find a hole to shoot through the thick cover."
Harris checked with Rose at noon to see if he wanted to go in at lunch. But Rose opted to stay in his stand and wait for a chance to take the big buck. A few minutes past noon, a smaller 8-point went in to the same ditch where the big buck was bedded. "I saw another 8-point buck with a high rack at about 2:30 p.m.," Rose recalls. "On any other hunt, I would have taken the high-racked 8-point, but I knew the buck in the ditch was a much bigger deer. He was the buck I really wanted to take."
During the next six hours, Rose kept looking, but he never spotted the big buck. He knew the buck hadn't left the ditch because he could see all the routes the buck would have to take to leave. During the day, saw about 15 does in the area. Some went down in the ditch while others skirted the area. Late in the afternoon about 5 p.m., Harris returned to Rose's stand site, and Rose told him he thought the buck was still in the ditch. "We saw a few more does before dark. As the sun began to fade, Harris explained that if we ever were going to see the big deer, he should come out of the ditch just before black dark," Rose says.
"Five minutes later, I saw the buck moving through heavy brush out into an open field -- about 260 yards away. So I got a solid rest and prepared to make the shot. When I squeezed the trigger, instead of hearing the report of the rifle, I heard a deafening click. The rifle had misfired. I ejected that shell. Then when the second round started to go in the chamber, the bullet got hung in the receiver. Frustrated and aggravated, I dropped the clip out of my gun."
After he dropped the clip, Harris whispered, "I think the buck heard us. He turned around and looked at us. You'd better hurry up and get a shell in your chamber." Rose took one round out of his clip and put it in the barrel with his finger. Then he closed the receiver on his rifle, put the rifle on shooting sticks, leaned back against the tree he was sitting next to, and once again prepared to make the shot. "I was shooting a Winchester Featherweight 708 with a Winchester ballistic tip and 140 grains of powder. As I looked through the Simmons 3X9 scope, I couldn't see the deer. The light had gotten so low that I just couldn't pick up the deer in the scope. So I backed the scope up to 3X, and I put the crosshairs 2-inches high of where I wanted it to hit. When I squeezed the trigger, the buck dropped out of view. I asked Harris if he could see the deer." But Harris responded, "No, I didn't see him. I think the deer dropped straight down."
Rose reloaded, and he and Harris started walking to the spot where he had shot the deer. "The brush stood about 1 1/2- to 2-feet high, so we couldn't spot the deer," Rose says. "I barely could walk because I had been sitting still for six hours, and my body felt numb from my waist down to my toes. However, my excitement built as I walked to the place where I expected to find the buck. As we got closer, I couldn't see my buck. Finally, we spotted the white under the deer's neck, and when I finally got beside the deer, I could see his massive 10-point rack. I was really excited after having sat for 11 hours to try and take this buck and finally complete the hunt. As I looked at the deer, I saw the bullet had hit right where I aimed."
All Rose had to eat all day long was a granola bar and a mini Snickers bar, and he hadn't drunk any water. "I felt as though I had paid the price to take my nice buck, which scored in the 140s on the Boone and Crockett scale," Rose says.
Kansas's Big Deer
EDITOR'S NOTE: This week we'll look at the deer hunter's Valhalla. The state of Kansas has produced some of the biggest bucks in the nation, and this week we'll look at the stories and photos of hunters who've hunted with Brad Harris and Tad Brown, members of the Outland staff, which produces Lohman's and M.A.D.'s game calls.
Brad Harris of Neosho, Missouri, has hunted Kansas ever since the state opened its deer season for out-of-state hunters, and today, he'll tell us why he believes this state has so many trophy whitetails. "The state has a lot of limited-access areas and quite a few big ranches and farms," Harris explains. "The state doesn't have near the hunting pressure that many other states have, and it has quite a bit of agriculture. I think Kansas has an older age structure of bucks than many other states. We have 10,000 acres to hunt. During the season, there only will be about 15 hunts on this land, counting bowhunters and gun hunters combined. We usually harvest 10 bucks a season that will score in the 130 class or better on the B&C scale. Our best buck to date was a nice buck that scored 176 on the B&C scale. We experience such success because when hunters are on stands, we'll usually have two or three other support-staff people out looking for bucks trying to locate the bucks and determine where we need to put tree stands to give our hunters the best opportunity to take a really nice buck. We try and keep people out looking for deer from daylight to dark, while the hunters hunt. When we spot a buck that we see bedding up in a draw or a bottleneck, we'll often go get one of our hunters and bring him to a spot where he can take a shot if and when that buck leaves that bedding region. Oftentimes if the terrain allows, we'll stalk in close enough to the bedded buck for the hunter to take a shot."
Harris and his staff have learned that during the rut, if they can locate a doe in estrus that has a buck trailing her, the buck usually will bed down close to her. If they can get a hunter in to that area, that buck often will stand up two or three different times in hopes of getting the doe to stand. If the hunter is nearby when the buck stands, the hunter usually can get a shot.
"Too, we'll move stands or put up new stands any time a buck is not coming down a path or using a trail where the hunter can get a shot at him," Harris explains. "We've learned that to experience an effective hunt for big deer in Kansas, there really needs to be two hunts happening at one time. The first hunt involves hunters sitting on the stand at locations we've pre-scouted and determined where a big buck should appear. The second hunt occurs as the support staff scouts and looks for big bucks for our hunters who don't see bucks on the stands that day. Bucks will move, and if you do not move with them and look for them in different places, you'll waste your time on unproductive stands."
Immediate Success
EDITOR'S NOTE: This week we'll look at the deer hunter's Valhalla. The state of Kansas has produced some of the biggest bucks in the nation, and this week we'll look at the stories and photos of hunters who've hunted with Brad Harris and Tad Brown, members of the Outland staff, which produces Lohman's and M.A.D.'s game calls.
Carl Allen Mitchell, of Lebanon, Missouri, took one of the first big bucks of our hunt in Kansas. By 9:00 a.m. on our first morning, Mitchell's hunt had ended. Here he tells the story. "I got in my tree stand before daylight, and by 7:30 a.m. I still hadn't seen anything," Mitchell says. "Bob Mussy operated a camera in a tree stand with me, and he spotted the buck first. I saw this big buck go behind some trees and brush and then vanish. I grunted to him with a M.A.D. grunt call. When I looked up from grunting, I saw a doe looking straight at me. I stopped grunting, afraid to move. I didn't want to spook the doe because I knew if I spooked her, she'd probably spook my buck. The doe finally turned and went back away from me and toward the buck. However, the buck didn't follow her. Instead, he turned and started coming right to us. I don't know if the buck thought the doe had seen another buck, but for whatever reason, the buck came out boldly toward us."
The buck ran to the spot where the doe had stood, which was less than 60 yards from the stand. The buck brought his head up high as though he were testing the wind, and when Mitchell saw the buck coming, he mounted his rifle. "As soon as he stopped and raised his head, I fired," Mitchell mentions. "I shot a 270 Remington with Remington core lock shells. I shot a Leuopold scope with a dot reticule. I feel that the dot allows me to aim faster, especially on moving deer. When I fired, the buck went down, and my hunt ended. I had barely hunted an hour and a half before I bagged this really nice buck. I had a dream hunt. Although I had planned to stay for three or four days, I went home that night with a great story and a big buck. Kansas hunting doesn't get any better than that."
A Missed Opportunity
EDITOR'S NOTE: This week we'll look at the deer hunter's Valhalla. The state of Kansas has produced some of the biggest bucks in the nation, and this week we'll look at the stories and photos of hunters who've hunted with Brad Harris and Tad Brown, members of the Outland staff, which produces Lohman's and M.A.D.'s game calls.
I hunted for four days with Mossy Oak pro staffer Tad Brown. Every day I saw bucks, and he had two opportunities to take a really nice buck. For the next two days, I'll tell you what I thought about my Kansas hunt. "I've hunted with Brad Harris and the folks at Lohman's a couple of times in Kansas. I've always seen big bucks, and I've always taken a buck, but I've never taken one of those real Kansas gorillas. I will say, however, on both my previous Kansas hunts, I missed at least one, and on one hunt, two really huge Kansas bucks. So, on this trip, I hoped to finally connect."
The first morning Tad and I hunted together, the weather turned really cold. We climbed into our stand before daylight. "We hunted near a green field and saw some small 4- and 6-point bucks and a few does. Before good daylight, we heard coyotes howl. And, I told Brown that if a coyote showed up, I planned to take him. Then Brown warned, "The guides have spotted a 130-class 8-point coming to this field. You may want to let the coyotes walk if you see one, because you could really take a nice buck on this stand."
I agreed to not shoot a coyote. At about 9:30 a.m., I heard the leaves rustling off to my right. As I turned, I spotted a huge buck not 30 yards away running straight for my tree stand. Before I could lift my gun up, the buck stopped right under my tree not 15 feet below me. I knew if I moved, I'd spook him. But as quick as he had stopped, he ran again and made a sharp left-hand turn after taking only three or four steps. As the buck vanished, I heard more footsteps. Looking quickly to my right, I saw the coyote that had been chasing him. I grunted at the coyote with my Lohman's MAD Twist Deer Call. The coyote looked up, spotted me and ran off. Within a minute and a half, I heard more footsteps. This time a second coyote showed up. This coyote had very little hair on his tail and looked like he had a severe case of the mange. Then he vanished. And for the rest of the day, I saw nothing.
That night I was discouraged knowing I'd had an opportunity to take a big 8-point and couldn't get off a shot. Over the next two days, Tad and I saw bucks almost every day we hunted. Although I could have taken several bucks that would have scored 90 to 110 on the B&C scale, the only trophy bucks I saw were well out of range. However, the night before the last morning of the hunt, Harris said he had two spots where I felt he could take that Kansas buck I'd wanted for so long.
Phillips Gets His Buck
EDITOR'S NOTE: This week we'll look at the deer hunter's Valhalla. The state of Kansas has produced some of the biggest bucks in the nation, and this week we'll look at the stories and photos of hunters who've hunted with Brad Harris and Tad Brown, members of the Outland staff, which produces Lohman's and M.A.D.'s game calls.
"This is the worst-looking deer stand I've ever had in my life," I said to myself as I sat down beside a telephone pole next to a pasture. Apart from a little cover on the lower end, the pasture was as clean as a hound's tooth. Harris had said he'd seen a buck enter a pine thicket in the top of that pasture about 150 yards from his stand site, and he felt certain there was more than one buck in the draw about 200-yards away from the stand.
At first light, I saw a massive 12-point buck that would have scored more than 150 on the B&C scale. Although he stood in the pasture where we were hunting, the buck was 1/2- to 3/4-mile away from us. I watched the buck for a good 15 minutes as he walked slowly across the pasture, spooked some does out of a ditch, then walked up a hill on the other side of a pasture and vanished on the other side. About an hour later, I heard a racket off to my right. Five does came running out of a draw with a nice 10-point buck running behind them in hard pursuit. Even quick-draw McGraw couldn't have gotten off a shot at that running buck. About 200-yards away, the buck ran so close to the does that even if you did take a shot, the likelihood of hitting the does was just as good as the possibilities of taking a buck."
The buck and does vanished into the timber on the other side of the pasture, and for about 30 minutes, the pasture was as still and quiet as a cemetery at midnight. I started grunting again on my MAD twist call. In less than 10 minutes, I saw the 10-point coming out of the timber and even walking down toward the bottom of the pasture. I couldn't tell the size of the buck's antlers since he stood 400- to 500-yards away and had his head down. When he got to the bottom of the pasture and crossed the ditch, I could tell he was a shooter. I rested my rifle on the shooting sticks to prepare for the shot.
Brown suggested, "Let's let him come closer. If he's going to go bed, where Harris said he bedded yesterday, you should get about a 100-yard shot." As I studied the buck through his riflescope, the buck did as Brown had predicted. The buck closed the distance to about 175 yards. Then he turned and started drifting away from us. "You better take the shot," Brown said. "I don't think he's going to get any closer. Aim right at the top of his back." I put the crosshairs on my Kahles scope square on the buck's shoulder and then moved the crosshairs straight up to the top of the deer's back. I set the back trigger on my Mannlicher .30-06 and concentrated on the shot. When I touched the hair front trigger, the rifle reported.
"You shot over him, John," Brown said. "Bolt your gun, put another round in the chamber, and I think you'll get another shot." The buck jumped around a little bit, and then turned to walk back in the direction he'd come. "Are you ready to take the shot?" Brown asked. "Yes," I answered. "I'm on him. I've got the back trigger set. When that buck stops, I'll shoot." Brown told me, "Get ready to shoot. I'll stop the buck." Then, Brown hollered, "Hey, deer." The buck stopped, I put the crosshairs in places, and touched the trigger. I saw the buck take the bullet, and as I bolted my gun and put in another round, the buck vanished behind some cover.
"You hit him good John," Brown said. "Let's wait a little while before we go to him." However, after a 10-minute wait, I suggested that, I walk across this hill a little bit and, "see if I can spot the buck behind the brush." I'd moved about 50 yards from the telephone pole where I'd been sitting. When I looked through my Kahles binoculars, I could see a long shaft of white antlers laying flat on the ground and not moving. When Tad and I walked down to the buck, I found the big Kansas whitetail that scored 142 B&C. I had finally taken my long-awaited big buck. I love to hunt in Kansas with the good folks at Lohman's and M.A.D.

John Phillips

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