Had three deer not crossed the road in front of Jamie Schesser’s truck a couple of days before the 2011 rifle season opened in Kansas, his nephew never would’ve considered sitting in a stand most family members had long written off as a waste of time.
But one of those whitetails wore a very tall rack, so thick at the bases that the antlers looked like a pair of gloves with inordinately long fingers. And the old stand was the only one within half a mile of where the deer were seen.
“It was midday, so my uncle was just driving along, not expecting to see deer,” said Andy Woodward. “But a couple of does and a big buck crossed right in front of him. Although he saw them for only a second, he told me the buck’s rack was unusually tall.”
Unusually tall is hardly a glowing description, but Andy saw the gleam in his uncle’s eyes. The 21-year-old from Topeka had been hunting since he was 12, and he was itching to tag the kind of buck for which his home state is known.
Checking out the abandoned stand seemed like a good idea.
“I think one of the reasons no one had hunted there in a long time was because it’s a long walk, especially for a morning hunt. It takes at least 30 minutes,” Andy said. “That’s a long hike in the dark, and it’s a long way to drag a deer if you get one.”
Dogged by thoughts of a possible monster, Andy set his alarm extra early and made the trek to the Atchison County stand, in and out, twice a day. The weather held at a steady 20 to 25 degrees, and there was little wind.
“I had been out every morning and evening. Dec. 5 was the fifth day of the season, and I hadn’t seen anything,” he said. “I was almost ready to shoot the first deer I saw.
“Finally, after about an hour and a half on stand, I saw a little buck. I had the gun up and was looking at him through the scope,” he continued. “But I decided he was just too small, and I let him go.”
As the saying goes, you’ll never shoot a big buck if you shoot little ones. Andy’s decision to let the little guy walk is one he will never regret.
“I had barely lowered the gun when the other buck appeared. It was so close behind that I now think the big buck was actually running the smaller one off,” Andy said. “The big buck came out sniffing, with its head to the ground.
“When I first saw it, it was between 80 and 100 yards away, but I could see those antlers. I knew it had to be the one my uncle saw,” he added. “It was really big, and I told myself right away to stop looking at the rack and to concentrate on what I needed to do.”
Andy’s biggest buck to that point was an 8-pointer he’d taken with a bow. This buck dwarfed that one.
“It was still at about the same distance, crossing from left to right in front of me,” Andy said. “It would go behind a tree and pop out, go behind another tree and then pop out, still sniffing the ground. I just kept trying to get the scope on it, hoping it would stop.
“Then it did pop out and stop. I think maybe it caught wind of me, because it picked its head up and looked in my direction,” he continued. “I figured I better take the shot.”
Andy was using a 6mm rifle that had belonged to his dad, Richard. Although he had to hurry the shot, he dropped the buck on the spot.
Andy couldn’t wait to get to its side.
“When I shot it, I had no idea it had so many points,” he said. “As I got closer, I saw more and more.”
There were 22.
Andy didn’t have a good cell phone signal where he was, so he decided to leave and get his dad, who was also out hunting. His dad had already dropped a 10-pointer that year and was out for doe meat, so Andy felt comfortable interrupting him on stand.
“He asked me how many points it had, but I just let (the question) hang,” Andy said. “I told him he’d just have to see it.”
Father and son were so pumped that the long walk to and the subsequent drag from the stand no longer mattered.
“It was a great day for all of us, and the season got even better,” Andy said. “A day or two later, my brother, Myles, got a 16-pointer very similar to mine. We think they might’ve been related.
“It was our best year ever, by far,” Andy added. “We were really lucky.”
Hunter: Andrew Woodward — Photos Courtesy of Andrew Woodward
BTR Official Score: 192 6/8
BTR Composite Score: 210 4/8
This article was published in the August 2013 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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