For Jake Steven, assigning most-wanted status to a buck has more to do with predictability than the size of its rack. That’s why his No. 1 target in 2017 was a 12-pointer, even though his trail camera had yielded photographs of a much larger whitetail.
The 26-year-old real estate agent and auctioneer might’ve been overly pessimistic, however, because the deer he ultimately shot – the larger – was the one he never expected to see while in a treestand.
A season spent chasing a ghost with crossed fingers was to blame for the Wichita bowhunter’s lack of confidence. Before Kansas’ 2016 bow season opened, he collected five days of trail cam photos – daytime and nighttime – of the buck. Once the curtain opened, he never saw it again.
The next time he saw the deer with points aplenty was in 2017, through sporadic pics. Meanwhile, a photogenic 12-pointer caught his eye. It stepped in front of the lens so regularly that he was practically clearing his freezer and making wall space.
About 4:00 on Oct. 27, two days before Jake’s second child was born, he headed afield with his brother, Zack. Two hundred yards from his brother’s, Jake’s was a ladder stand about 60 yards into the timber flanking a soybean field.
A lot of deer were on their feet that day.
About 30 minutes before quitting time, Jake spotted his hit-list 12-pointer on a trail about 200 yards distant, heading toward his brother.
The next couple of deer Jake saw, also at 200 yards, were a small 8-pointer followed by the big one that had eluded him throughout the 2016 season. They were walking toward him, following the tree line.
The lead 8-pointer came straight to a doe in front of Jake. They both saw Jake draw his Bear bow when the bull of the woods was at 25 yards.
He’ll never forget the sound of his arrow smacking that deer.
When he and friends taped the rack multiple times later, the average score was 220 inches. They neither weighed nor aged the animal.
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