Eighteen-pointer’s fatal mistake was taking the same trail twice, just a few hours apart.
When the Sunflower State’s 2011 deer season opened on Nov. 30, Greg Tanking’s hunting buddy, Lou, watched the sunrise from inside a blind formed by hay bales.
Many hunters buy imitation hay bale blinds because deer and other animals become accustomed to moving around the large obstacles. The guys thought the real things should work just as well.
Lou saw nothing during the maiden sit in his hideaway, however.
“He sat in the blind for several hours that morning and didn’t see a deer,” Greg said. “It seemed like nothing was happening in that area, so nobody sat there that night or the following morning.”
The hay bales were set up near a creek, positioned so the hunter was facing a deer trail on the opposite side. The trail is about 100 yards from the blind, and the hunter has just a little opening through the trees to take a shot.
The hunter can stand or sit, and the bales protect him from the prevailing, chilly north wind. Greg says the spot is great, even though it’s not a high-traffic area. A person can blink and miss seeing a deer on the trail.
Every little creek is important in Jackson County, Kansas, which encompasses 658 square miles, all but 2 of land. Not only are the creeks a source of water, but whitetails also follow them to get from point A to B.
Still, deer movement is sporadic.
“You’ll have some boredom, with nothing happening, and all you can do is concentrate on keeping still and warm,” Greg said. “We typically don’t have early snow that time of year, but it is always cold.
“The deer are used to them (the bale blinds), and they work pretty slick,” Greg said. “Every year, after the last hay harvest, we redo the blinds with fresh hay.”
After the second day’s morning hunt, Greg and Lou walked in to the bale blind area to check a trail camera set up on the deer trail. They were astounded by what they saw. They were certain the buck was wearing more than 170 inches of antler.
“We’d seen some decent bucks on the trail cameras during the pre-season, but not that one,” he said.
Greg works for the city of Holton’s street department. Fall and winter are typically slow times of the year for that kind of work, so Greg usually takes time off for deer season. His buddies save their off-time for deer season as well.
“Five or six of us have been hunting together for years,” Greg said. “We all grew up together in northeast Kansas.
“Lou and I had decided to go over to look at the camera. After we saw the pictures, we actually argued over who was going to sit there,” he recalled. “For all of us, it’s really a team effort, and Lou insisted that I be the one to hunt from the bale blind.
“I took him up on the offer,” he said. “It was cloudy, with a front coming in. We actually got snow the next day.”
He settled in, cradling his .243 Winchester, at about 3 p.m. With the clouds blocking the feeble winter sun, Greg could tell it would probably be too dark to shoot before actual legal shooting hours ended at 5:30.
The minutes seemed to pass even more slowly than usual until 5:00. Then Greg willed the time to slow as the day darkened.
At 5:10, he saw a buck approaching.
“I really wasn’t sure it was the one from the trail camera, at first,” he said. “The way the rack is, when you see it straight on, it just looks like a regular buck.
“The deer had to turn its head for me to know. When it did, I saw the many points,” he continued. “Fortunately, it all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to get buck fever.”
When the buck reached a little gap in the trees, Greg squeezed the trigger, and the deer dropped.
“Lou was near enough to hear the shot, and he came driving right over,” Greg said.
Months later, Greg still hasn’t taken the rack to a taxidermist.
“My wife hasn’t yet agreed to let me bring a mount home,” he grinned. “Maybe this article will help.”
Hunter: Greg Tanking
BTR Score: 195 4/8
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This article was published in the April 2016 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home. Read Recent RACK Articles:
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