By Jill J. Easton
If Kyle Sims were ugly or mean, his might be the name affiliated with the biggest typical whitetail that hit the dirt in Kansas last season.
Now he’ll have to marry his girlfriend, Rachelle Karl, if he wants to see that buck hanging on his wall.
‘“Go take a hunter safety course, and then we can go out.’ That’s what Kyle told me,” laughs Rachelle. “He was a nice guy and cute, so I figured why not?”
Rachelle, then 18, took the course back in 2009, and she and Kyle became a couple that summer. For dates, he took her to a pasture and taught her how to shoot. When her aim and gun handling skills gradually improved, she decided to borrow a rifle and try her hand at deer hunting.
Her first two seasons ended with unspent tags, but she made up for it in 2011.
“At 5:15 on opening day of the 2011 rifle season, I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep,” Rachelle said. “I was excited about going on a deer hunt, so Kyle and I headed out early. It was warm, around 40 degrees, which made it an especially great morning. I didn’t have to worry about the cold.”
The previous night, Rachelle and Kyle had planned where they were going to hunt, but the wind was wrong, strong and gusting, and it was foggy. Not only that, but Kyle had a feeling they should go someplace else. They wound up going to a ground blind on the hillside overlooking a pasture in CRP.
“As we waited for dawn, I was complaining to Kyle about the poor setup,” Rachelle said. “I wanted to face east to see the sunrise.”
Shortly after 7:00, Kyle was glassing the south end of the field. Rachelle was peering out of another opening when she spotted a couple of deer coming down a draw to the west.
“The second one was a buck,” she said. “The rut had already ended, but he was smelling the doe and not paying attention to anything else.”
The deer were about 300 yards away, heading right toward the blind.
“I got Kyle’s attention, and we both started watching them,” Rachelle said. “The next 15 minutes were the longest in my life. I was so excited. That was my third deer season, and I was determined to shoot one.”
Kyle told Rachelle it was a decent buck and that he would give her the go-ahead to shoot when it was close enough.
“He kept reminding me to focus on the kill zone,” Rachelle said. “He did a good job of keeping it secret just how big the buck was. I think he was afraid of making me nervous.”
At 7:25, the buck was roughly 200 yards out and finally broadside. When he thought it was going to follow the doe into a wooded draw, Kyle gave the thumbs-up.
“I centered the crosshairs directly behind the shoulder,” said Rachelle. “Honestly, I was so focused on the kill zone, I never once realized how tall the antlers were.”
Rachelle calmed herself, took a deep breath and squeezed the .243’s trigger. The buck, obviously hit, plowed into a nearby draw.
“We were already celebrating when it reappeared. It came back out of the timber and was running down the draw right back at us,” she said. “When the buck stopped broadside again, I pulled up my gun. But the deer took off again.
“I finally pulled the trigger as it was running away,” Rachelle added. “Almost simultaneously, Kyle said it was down.”
Rachelle was excited about finally shooting a deer.
“I was dancing around as we headed out to look at the buck,” Rachelle said. “Kyle finally let on that I had shot one heck of a deer.
“I was shocked and in awe over how big it was,” she added.
Her first taste of fame came when a friend posted a photograph of her and her buck on Facebook.
“I instantly became famous in our small town,” she said.
Her second taste came when Rachelle entered the deer in the inaugural Monster Buck Classic in Topeka, which was looking to crown the typical and non-typical “kings” of Kansas for the 2011 season. Initially, her deer came in second place. But then the first-place deer was disqualified (it had been poached), elevating hers to the throne.
“I did a lot of newspaper interviews,” Rachelle said. “I had no idea the impact my deer was destined to cause.”
It was an amazing experience for a 20-year-old, first-time deer shooter.
“Luck was just on my side that day,” she says. “It was just that deer’s day to die. I should have gone out and bought a lottery ticket.”
Hunter: Rachelle Karl
BTR Score: 212 2/8
— Photos Courtesy of Rachelle Karl
This article was published in the Winter 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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