Twenty-six-year-old Ryan Keeter doesn't get many chances to bowhunt during harvest time. But the farmer from Grady, Arkansas, rarely misses opening day of rifle season.
Ryan is a member of a hunting club in Lincoln County, and the property he hunts is a scant 20 minutes from his front door. Even so, he doesn't make the drive as often as he'd like to.
When Ryan arrived at the club about 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 12, 2016, the buck at the top of his wish list was a 10-pointer he guessed would tally in the 160s. His destination that day was an elevated Fiberglas box stand overlooking a plot of clover and turnips.
Ryan began seeing deer almost immediately, but none caused him to reach for his .270 WSM. Several small bucks were continually pestering does. All the activity was in a lane and on the road in front of him, so he mostly kept his back to the food plot.
About 4:40, he glanced around just in time to see a doe cross through the plot. It didn't occur to Ryan, at first, that a buck might've been pursuing her, so he returned his attention to the 15 or 16 deer in front of him.
"When I turned to look back at the plot, I saw a buck cutting across the far corner," he said. "There was no time to study anything. I had about three seconds to pull up and shoot."
Ryan thought he was shooting at the 10-pointer. Only when he stood over it did he realize he'd taken a far bigger whitetail.
He was elated at the size of the buck's palmated antlers, although its stature was disconcerting.
"Its body was really small, only 168 pounds. For a second, I was really disappointed in myself for shooting a 2 1/2-year-old. But those antlers ... We learned later it was at least 6 1/2 years old," he said.
Ryan entered his deer in the big buck contest sponsored by Simmons' Sporting Goods in Bastrop, Louisiana. I'm looking forward to measuring it.
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Lesser Stand: Jeremy Way / BTR Composite Score: 200 7/8