Stolen equipment ruined his first spot, a turkey hunter his second … or so he thought!
The 2009 Kansas deer season held a lot of promise. My trail cameras revealed a parade of exceptional bucks, and deer sign was everywhere!
But a week before the opener, just when I could set my watch by the activity, all the deer disappeared. To make matters worse, my trail camera, bow hanger and various other pieces of equipment were stolen.
Realizing my favorite area had been compromised, I set out to find a new place to hunt.
Navigating every back road in Neosho County, Jeremy Capacosa (my cameraman) and I found an area that looked promising, at least from the road. After receiving permission from the landowner, we decided to scout it. With the rut just around the corner, we knew time was of the essence.
As we ventured through the 80 acres, I began to dislike it. Curious livestock abounded, and there were frequent visits by the landowner via four-wheeler. I was sure the hunting would not go well, but with limited options, we decided to give it a try.
We hung a few stands, and then continued scouting. Each new place seemed less promising than the previous ones.
By the last week of October, my eagerness was at fever pitch. Among the few setups, I chose the most promising.
Oct. 27 came and went with little activity. Only does moved within shooting range, although they hung back in the foliage. Launching an arrow would’ve been akin to shooting through a giant Whisker Biscuit. The following day wasn’t much better.
After rattling a bit on day three, a great looking 10-pointer steamed in, searching for the sparring bucks. It was a huge boost to my confidence.
I harvested two does before the week ended. The rut was on by then, and deer were moving throughout the day.
I was back in my stand an hour before daylight on Nov. 3. Sunrise brought a light fog. Thirty minutes after daybreak, three small bucks cruised in looking for a lonesome doe, another sign that the rut was in full swing. It was a beautiful morning that ended too quickly, but I had a college class to attend.
As I approached my truck, I noticed another truck parked next to mine. I thought nothing of it, at first, but after returning to my spot after class, the truck was still there. As I climbed out of my truck, the landowner pulled up next to me on his four-wheeler, asking, “You see anything yet?”
I told him what I’d been seeing, and then I asked about the truck.
“It’s my neighbor’s truck,” he replied. “He’s out hunting fall turkey today.”
I was disappointed, but I bit my tongue, all the while thinking my hunt was blown. While I was putting out deer scent, I looked to my left and noticed a turkey decoy 30 yards from my stand. I then spotted the hunter, waved at him and continued hanging more scent.
As I readied my equipment and moved up into the stand, I noticed the hunter had already grabbed his decoy and was on his way out of the timber. I settled into the stand to wait out the rest of my disappointing and futile hunt. I was frustrated and sure that I wouldn’t see anything as I watched the hunter lumbering through the woods.
I sat still and thought about the day’s events to that point. In an act of self encouragement, I thought of my grandfather, Elden White, and the best advice he ever gave me: “It takes only the right place at the right time. It can happen when you least expect it.”
That was the only advice I needed. I decided to stay put for the rest of the day. Texting everyone I knew was a great way to pass the time.
Eventually, a loud noise in the brush startled me. A doe came crashing out of the underbrush with a beautiful gnarly-racked buck in tow. They crossed in front of me at 30 yards, but I never had time for a shot; they were too fast. Before I’d caught my breath, I noticed another definite shooter ambling down the trail.
I watched it approach from 70 yards. It grunted continuously during the approach. There was no question that it was the bull of the woods.
I knew the deer would not stay for long, so I gave an aggressive grunt with my buck call. When the big guy stopped behind a cedar tree, I drew and waited. My heart beat so loudly, I had trouble concentrating.
When the buck finally resumed walking and stepped into the clear, I bleated. It stopped at 30 yards, long enough for me to lock my pin and release an arrow for a perfect shot. My knees nearly buckled afterward, and I sat down, awestruck. Words fail to convey the range of emotions that overhelmed me.
Forty-five minutes after that life-changing shot, I got down and began tracking. I was a bit frustrated for a moment as I searched for any sign of blood at the place of impact and found nothing. Five yards from the impact site, I finally saw what I was looking for: lung blood.
I followed the trail for more than 100 yards. The sign was remarkable. My Muzzy MX3 had done a splendid job!
After a bit more tracking, I became distraught and wondered if I’d imagined the bubbles indicative of a lung hit.
Not long afterward, I crested a creek bank, saw the buck and ran to it. My legs stopped working five yards from it. I could not believe what I saw. The rack had more points than my dazed brain could count. I sat there in the brush, crying and thanking God for such a wonderful opportunity at a buck I decided should be named “Titan.”
Hunter: Josh Root
BTR Official Score: 205 4/8
BTR Composite Score: 224 1/8
— Photo Courtesy of Josh Root This article was published in the October 2010 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
Read Recent RACK Articles:
• The State Record that Never Was (Officially): Hunter: Jim Spidle / BTR Composite Score: 240 2/8
• Hunt Hungry: While many hunters were out of the woods, stoking their own furnaces, Jerry Fitzgerald kept to his front-row seat at the whitetail matinee.
• What Shortcoming? Half-Buck has what it takes to shake up the records, as well as the man who tagged it!